Every year a travel trade show takes place in Berlin called ITB Berlin. Some of you may be aware of it? It’s deemed the world’s leading travel trade show. Anybody and everybody in the travel industry is at it, regardless of what sector. This includes the TrekkSoft team!As a result of travelling to ITB Berlin myself every year, I’m sharing a few tips for those of you who are going too. To those of you who aren’t, here’s the link to the show’s website which might make you think twice about missing it.
I’m sharing these tips with you because ITB Berlin is huge. It’s essentially a little - actually, big - town of people from the travel industry spaced over a series of halls. Due to its size you need to plan a lot. Hopefully these tips will come in handy…
1. Make sure to let people know you'll be there
ITB Berlin is about many things, but it’s primarily about one thing – networking. The event is three to four days of telling people what you do, how you do it and (hopefully) how you can help that person. Similarlly, it’s four days of people telling you the same thing. That’s what it’s meant to be like.
So make sure to tell people you’ll be there! This means telling your LinkedIn network, Facebook business page (and perhaps your personal one too), add it to your email signature, tell people over the phone you’ll be there, and whatever other ways you can think of sharing the news.
2. Have lots of business cards
Due to the aforementioned networking, you’ll need business cards. Lots of business cards, in fact. Make sure you get them printed before you go.
3. Plan your meetings in advance
I've been to another trade show, WTM, every year now for the last five or six years, and I find that you can have meetings that are more or less ad hoc and unscheduled. ITB isn’t like this though. Due to its sheer size, most people have certain places to be at particular times. Be one of these people!
Get in touch with people who are going to be there in advance and organise your meetings good and early. If you follow my advice from the first tip, you might not even need to organise any - everybody will be contacting you!
Another good way to organise meetings is by having your profile filled out properly on the ITB Virtual Marketplace…
4. Fill out your profile regularly on the ITB Virtual Marketplace
After you’ve registered for ITB Berlin, you will be granted access to the ‘ITB Virtual Marketplace’. This is where you can see who’s going to be there, where you can fill out your profile, and more. Make sure you complete your profile and your company details here.
You’ll also need to set your main contact person up as the ‘ITB Networker’ of your company, as the ITB system doesn't automatically do it for you. But once you do, it will increase networking exposure.
5. Take a look at the map before you arrive - Messe Berlin is BIG!
I’ve been to quite a few trade shows over the years, but I can safely say that Messe Berlin, the venue for ITB, is the biggest trade show I’ve ever been to. If you’ve been to WTM in London, imagine something around eight times the size of that. Maybe even 10. It’s huge!
It’s also very difficult to navigate. Making your way from Hall 4.1 (the Youth and Adventure Hall) to Hall 6.3 is a lot trickier than you might think. So if you’re not an exhibitor in the same spot for three days, that means you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Due to this, do your utmost to plan your meetings by region. So if you have meetings in and around halls 10-15, try to have them close together to save time going back and forth between halls.
6. Print out your badge before you arrive
This might seem obvious, but you'd be amazed at the amount of people who don't print their badges before travelling to the show. You can get your badge printed at ITB, but it's hassle. Save yourself some time and print it before you get there.
7. Check the schedule to see if there any talks you want to attend
ITB is a fantastic conference as well as a trade show. To see what talks are taking place, visit the ITB Berlin official website and browse 'events'. As one example, you could kick off your visit with "How Airlines, Hotels And Tour Operators Want To Become The Next ‘Amazon Of Travel‘" at 14:15 - 15:15 on Day 1.
8. Download the ITB Berlin official app
At time of writing, the ITB Berlin 2015 app (which was available for both iOS and Android) wasn't updated to a 2016 version. I envisage this to change though. Once it is updated I advise downloading it. It will help you get around (a bit!), let you know what talks are taking place, and more.
9. Buy your lunch every day nice and early
If you don't want to waste time every afternoon waiting in queues (or lines, depending on what part of the world you're from), buy your lunch a couple of hours before you plan on eating it. You'll save yourself a lot of time this way as queues at ITB are long. Very, very long.
10. Leave time for some informal networking also
As with many trade shows around the world, there's as much networking at night as during the day. Before the event and while you’re there, you’ll hear about drinks receptions taking place at the show or at venues in Berlin later in the evening. One of the most popular is the Travel Massive Opening Party which is the unoffiicial opening party of the entire event.
If you're also going to be at ITB Berlin 2016, why not arrange a meeting with our TrekkSoft team? We'd love to meet you!
Written by Colm Hanratty
Colm is Founder and Managing Director of digital marketing agency Sixtwo Digital. After running Hostelworld.com’s content and social media for almost 11 years he felt it was time to branch out on his own, using all his experience to educate others in the travel space.