With close to 800 exhibiting companies from 60 countries from all aspects of the Asian travel industry participating in the show, ITB Asia ‘The trade show for the Asian travel market’, is set to break all past records at this year’s event. TTN caught up with NINO GRUETTKE, executive director - ITB Asia to find out what’s in store.
This year’s edition of ITB Asia was sold-out four months ahead of the show. What are your expectations now?
Four years ago, we set out to establish ITB Asia as ‘The trade show for the Asian travel market’ and since then the show has grown exceeding our expectations, both in terms of quality and quantity.
This year, all available booth space for the show was completely sold-out four months ahead of the event and the number of attendees is expected to surpass that of previous years, with close to 800 exhibitors from 60 countries participating. Despite being one of the youngest regional trade shows, we have grown to be one of the largest.
We have achieved major success so far but, at the same time, we have our work cut out for us. Moving forward, our aim is to continue improving and growing the show to meet the evolving needs of the Asian travel market. Our partners have high expectations for the show and we have to constantly keep our finger on the pulse to keep up with their needs.
At 100-per-cent exhibitor participation, what’s the main focus?
Our focus is to grow and establish ourselves strongly in the Asian travel market. As a leading platform that facilitates the exchange of quality travel products and services, ITB Asia needs to attract a high standard of exhibitors and also a wide range of buyers in order to establish a successful show. We have always maintained a strong focus on the quality of buyer-seller experience and dedicate our resources to ensure a well-balanced mix of geographical markets and sectors such as Mice, leisure and corporate travel.
What kind of hosted buyers/visitors can we expect to see this year?
ITB Asia’s hosted-buyer programme is renowned for attracting top-quality buyers and effectiveness in generating genuine business leads.
Potential hosted buyers are evaluated based on their calibre and experience and it is through our stringent assessment process that we are able to guarantee a quality group of hosted buyers each year.
In response to the programme’s success, we have also introduced a brand new partial hosted buyer category to accommodate buyers with demanding travel schedules. More than 600 top quality buyers will be invited this year.
As for visitors, ITB 2010 attracted more than 6,600 attendees - this represents a 7.4 per cent increase on 2009’s numbers. This year’s show is to be our largest yet in terms of exhibitor numbers and conference programme line up and we expect the number of visitors attending to reflect that growth.
Which exhibitors will debut at the event? Will we see more participation from the Middle East?
This year, more than a third of our participants are first time exhibitors, including international names such as Guam Visitors Bureau, Wyndham Hotels and Majestic Hotel Group. In particular, first time exhibitor Hilton Worldwide, the leading global hospitality company with a strong portfolio of more than 10 award-winning brands, was named the first ‘Official Partner Hotel’ for ITB Asia 2011.
The Middle East is definitely well-represented with the participation of a number of national tourism organisations. This includes the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority, the Egyptian Tourist Authority and Qatar Tourism Authority.
What new initiatives can we expect to see at the event this year?
As mentioned earlier, we have introduced a new partial hosted buyer category for buyers who want flexibility and welcomed Hilton Worldwide as our first Official Hotel Partner.
The conferences component is another key element of ITB Asia and this year’s programme will be the largest line-up yet with new conferences such as the inaugural TTG Travel Agent Conference, the Asia for Asia Conference, organised by Singapore Tourism Board and the second instalment of ITB Asia Association Day. In addition, we have also introduced specialised discussion forums focusing on current industry topics.
We also launched a ‘Best Booth Design’ award to celebrate the creativity and innovation in booth designs and express our appreciation for the effort that goes behind the amazing exhibitor stands.
Still only in its fourth year, the show has clearly grown significantly. Is this indicative of the growth in the region? What are the travel trends emerging from the Asian travel industry?
Asia is booming and everybody wants a piece of the pie. The Asian travel industry is currently experiencing unsurpassed levels of growth and part of the success of ITB Asia can definitely be attributed to that.
With China and India positioned as the top growth markets in Asia, there have been huge increases in both inbound and outbound travel throughout the entire region.
Based on the findings of the ITB World Travel Trends Report 2010/ 2011, Asia’s outbound travel rates had a reported growth of 15 per cent for the first half of the year, with end-of-year projections suggesting at least at a 14 per ecnt rise from last year.
Markets to keep an eye on are China, South Korea, and Malaysia which are all currently increasing at more than 20 per cent with Singapore, Taiwan and India not far behind with double-digit growth rates.
Asia’s Mice industry is also proving to be an important component of the tourism sector, generating millions of dollars in revenue each year. The industry is currently experiencing a period of great expansion and robust growth and regional competition is going to heat up even further as Mice tourism booms in developing countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia.
Last year you introduced the Association Day. How successful was it and what’s in store this year?
The debut of Association Day last year was extremely well-received and the second instalment will expand on the success of last year’s conference.
In addition to last year’s successful features, this year’s event will see the introduction of new expert speakers and forums dedicated to understanding and growing the association meeting sector in Asia. There will be sessions headed by leaders in the field discussing the most up-to-date and relevant issues that the industry is facing and focusing on the opportunities and outlook of the industry in the next five to 10 years.
What will be the key topics of discussion at this year’s conferences?
Aside from the previously mentioned Association Day and travel agent conference, other key conferences such as the Asia for Asia Conference and WIT Conference include an exploration into the macro trends of the Asian travel industry as well as entrepreneurship and innovation in the travel distribution, marketing and technology industry.
In addition to our conferences, this year’s show will also present discussion forums touching on the cost-value balance of loyalty programmes and the rapid increase and sustainability of boutique hotels in Asia.
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