ITB Berlin


The travel industry gathers in Berlin for its annual show, a truly global event with 10000 exhibitors and 220000 visitors. Its a great place to meet contacts and clients and see what the key driving factors are in the industry. For sure the key trends this year are global health tourism, with people seeking alternative therapies and fitness holidays. The rise of the luxury chain boutique hotel offers and new markets pitching their tourism credentials, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. The power of the brand in a world of generic travel proposition really defined the show for me.

The Middle eastern halls stood out from the clutter, overloaded brochureware and bad branding, across many countries in the European and Asian zones. The UK was uninspiring to say the least, only saved by a pub scene and the odd pair of tartan trousers! As always a few exceptions, Finnair, Dusit and Accor, each with a clear story, well executed. The Maldivian stand remained me of the Portobello market on Saturday morning! However, their tourism numbers continue to rise and the number of uber luxury resorts continue to redefine 6 stars.  Perhaps the chaotic street style approach is what buyers really love at ITB?

The Middle eastern brands showed power branding on steroids, clear propositions and highly slick visuals and interactive presentations. Emirates, Sharjah, and Qatar being the stand out brands. In complete contrast to many other regions of the world, the Middle Eastern brands understand that less is more, provide less clutter, use stronger, bolder visuals and clever interactive brand experiences (hats off to Qatar again). They really won the day for the HMS16 team. 

Expecting to find VR everywhere, it was not being overly used to engage to pitch the buyers, Indonesia and Finnair delivering a great experience. The lasting thought in my mind as i climbed aboard the plane to my next meeting in Stockholm, was a real sense of meeting people who love what they do and frankly love the pitch!

Wheels up

-Richard Hammond