Editorial: ITB Berlin 2019

Looking back at last week at the ITB Berlin

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

Dear readers,

The biggest show on earth is behind us. ITB Berlin 2019 welcomed 113,500 trade visitors, 3% more than in 2018 – and we had the chance to communicate with many of them.

The WTCF panel discussion “How to Market Your Destination’s products and services to Chinese Outbound Tourists” was well visited to and brought a lot of insights. The representative of Sevilla Tourism shared with the audience the fact that his wife is regularly woken up at night when he receives a WeChat message from China, but still loves him. More to the point was the razor-sharp analysis of Roger Qiu of Ctrip that there are WeChat accounts “without traffic”, like most accounts set up by DMOs, which only reach a few hundred Chinese already interested in the destination. They are only becoming useful if other accounts and platforms with traffic of millions of user pushes some of them to look up more detailed information on the DMO account.

The audience was able to send questions via sli.do to the panelists and it turned out that many still hope to find inexpensive single channel to all Chinese customers – a dream which unfortunately will not become reality. I tried to explain that especially for smaller companies the first step needs to be a careful analysis to find which market segment could be targeted and inside which network that is possible.

The next day, after recovering from the ITB China Night, COTRI presented on stage the General Manager Europe of Alibaba, Mr. Terry von Bibra, who explained the ecosphere of Alibaba to a packed standing-only audience, with many seeing for the first time the myriad of businesses connected to the company beyond Fliggy and AliPay. As could be expected, when I opened after some questions on stage to Terry the floor for questions from the audience, the first question concerned Data Protection laws. The GM of Alibaba in Europe answered very clearly that his company is obeying to all laws in all countries they are operating in.

During the traditional PATA lunch COTRI was given kindly the opportunity to present the CTT China Tourism Training. My personal highlight of the ITB Berlin however was the opportunity to have breakfast with Dr. Taleb Rifai, former Secretary General of UNWTO, and still one of the most eminent thought-leaders of global tourism.

ITB Berlin 2019 is over, but CVS 2019 in Dresden in April and ITB China in May in Shanghai already on the horizon.

Best wishes for a peaceful and profitable week!

For the COTRI Weekly Team – Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt