ITB Berlin Convention: Think tank for the topics of tomorrow

ITB Berlin Convention: Think tank for the topics of tomorrow

Once again, topics including tourism, marketing, technology, politics, the economy, sustainability and health await visitors to this year’s ITB Berlin Convention. From 7 to 9 March 2012, for the seventh time, experts, scientists and practitioners will meet at the world’s largest tourism convention to discuss innovative solutions and best practices in the travel industry and related sectors. The agenda focuses on the latest topics, including the Arab Spring, the challenges facing the cruise industry, as well as problems such as oversubscribed tourism destinations, human rights in tourism and the shortfall in qualified employees and management staff in the hotel industry.

In his keynote speech on 7 March 2012 Prof. Dr. Dres. H.c. Hans-Werner Sinn, president of the ifo Institute in Munich, will talk about “global economic developments and the situation in Germany and Europe“. A leading economist, he will discuss the problems surrounding the EU bailout plan and highlight the consequences for future economic developments in Europe and the world. Matthias Hartmann, CEO, GfK Group, will examine consumer behaviour and travel patterns in times of financial crisis and analyse the effects of a recession on spending. The discussion round entitled “The Arab rebellion: an Arab Spring or tourism ice age?“ will focus on the impact of the political upheavals in Tunisia and Algeria. The boom in the cruise industry raises questions concerning safety on board and protection of the environment. Taking part in the Executive Cruise Panel will be leading figures from the cruise industry: Michael Bayley, Executive Vice President International, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Larry Pimentel, President & CEO, Azamara Club Cruises, Peter Shanks, President & Managing Director, Cunard Line, Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO, MSC Crociere S.A., Enzo Visone, CEO, Silversea Cruises, and Richard J. Vogel, CEO, TUI Cruises.

Technical progress as the travel industry’s driving force
The example of a new trend, collaborative consumption, shows how greater involvement in e-commerce and online networking can result in the emergence of new business models. Arne Bleckwenn, CEO of Wimdu.de, explains how, based on his web portal for private accommodation, the internet facilitates sharing one’s possessions.

Markus Barnikel, CEO, carpooling.com, pursues a similar concept. In his session entitled “Ride Sharing – the smart transport alternative of the future“, he will be showing how the combination of sharing transport over the web and smartphone use has triggered a mass phenomenon and also benefits the environment. The tsunami in Japan in 2011 once again showed how dramatic the consequences of natural disasters can be on this country and on tourism demand. On 9 March 2012, together with other panel members, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Reinhard F. J. Hüttl, science chair and board spokesman of Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ, will discuss what lessons can be learned from the example of Indonesia’s tsunami early warning system.

At the ITB Berlin Convention a wide range of discussion rounds awaits visitors interested in sustainability. Koen Olthuis, Chief Creative Officer, and Paul H.T.M. van de Camp, CEO, Dutch Docklands will present a far-reaching innovation. The Dutch company is the market leader for floating facilities - a solution for destinations threatened by rising sea levels. Its representatives will talk about the floating hotels currently under construction on the Maldives. This year’s Studiosus discussion round will debate “human rights in tourism“. Panel members will include Jürgen Büchy, president of the German Travel Association (DRV) and Markus Löning, Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid.

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Thought-provoking ideas for marketing heads
On 9 March 2012 at the ITB Marketing and Distribution Day, a paper entitled ”New Trends in Luxury Travel“ will address the fact that for many travellers luxury no longer means extravagant wealth. Marc Aeberhard, President & Managing Director, Luxury Hotel and Spa Management Ltd., will show how hotel owners and destinations can satisfy their guests by successfully exploiting a current trend that embraces self-discovery, simplicity and slow movement ideals. The award-winning travel journalist Doug Lansky will raise some laughs when he presents ”the biggest mistakes in travel marketing“, including the worst tourism slogans and hotel names. In order to prevent these pitfalls he will be offering some thought-provoking ideas for innovative marketing strategies and measures. By contrast, the question Dirk Beckmann, managing director of artundweise GmbH and author of the eponymous book, will ask is “What would Apple do?“. What is Apple’s recipe for success and can lessons be drawn for the tourism industry? On 7 March 2012 another market giant will address the revolutions in global tourism. Dr. Bernd Fauser, Head of Travel Top Accounts, Google, will talk about the Google products impacting on the travel industry and what other innovations lie in store.

The topical issue of health also concerns the ITB Berlin Convention. On 9 March 2012, at the ITB Health Tourism Panel, the focus will be on the health tourism market. Among those taking part in the discussion will be Ralf Baumbach, proprietor and managing director of the MediPlus Group and Dr. Andreas Gent, chairman of HanseMerkur Krankenversicherung AG. Afterwards, at the push of a button, audience members can decide on the winner and losers of the first ITB Health Tourism Battle. Nine panel members will have an opportunity to make their point and the winner’s prize is an air fare to Berlin.

A trade visitor pass to ITB Berlin is valid for admission to the ITB Berlin Convention.