I’m a small tour operator. Is ITB for me?

Marijana Lovric

Marijana Lovric

Marketing Manager at Orioly
Marijana is a passionate web design and visual communicator who specializes in sales and internet marketing. Privately and professionally immersed in tourism, she owns her own blog ‘Kod sata’ (Engl. At the clock) where she writes hot tips and reviews of the best places to visit in Zagreb, Croatia and gives an extra grasp in their historical significance.
Marijana Lovric

We’ve just got back from ITB – The World’s Leading Travel Trade Show. We’re still excited about all the new things we’ve experienced. In this article, we’d like to share our ITB experience with every small tour operator worldwide. 

This year was special because the first ITB was held back in 1966, exactly 50 years ago. Since then it has become the largest travel fair. 

In 2015., a total of 10,096 companies and organizations from 186 countries exhibited their products and services to 175,000 visitors. I bet that 2016. will have even bigger numbers.

A lot of people think that this is reserved for “big shots”; tourist boards, big hotels, agencies and other big businesses. But that’s not true. Everybody can benefit from attending ITB. Here you can read all the benefits a small tour operator gets from attending as an exhibitor.

First things first – preparation!

ITB takes place in Messe Berlin in March and lasts for one week.
First, decide what do you want to accomplish there and accommodate your strategy accordingly.

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Secondly, according to the chosen strategy, select which days you want to be there. Monday to Friday everybody from the tourism is there to establish business contacts, close deals, get information about the latest trends or to get inspired. The weekend is opened for the general public when the exhibitors present their offers to customers.

Then you need to see how much money you can invest. Here you can calculate your stand costs. We understand that you’re small and maybe this price seems to be a little bit high for your budget, but… You can share a stand with your friends that have similar agencies, or you can contact your country association and ask them to be a sub-exhibitor at their stand. There are ways to reduce costs.

Remember that you need to buy a stand at least 6 months before fair.

Exhibitor benefits (and some tips)

Here’s what you get out of it:

Profile on Virtual market Place and ITB Networking Tool

These are online platforms where all exhibitors stay listed for a year. Potential partners and customers can find you there and contact you directly. You can add your company information, contacts, business interests and goals.“Matchmaking generator” finds your potential partners and customers accordingly to your goals so you can contact them and arrange a meeting.
Tip: Remember to refresh your website. It’s a mirror of you and what you’re doing. Adjust the site languages towards your target partners.

A small tour operator should participate in speed meetups

1. Buyers Circle Speed Networking – in 5 minutes you can present your product to every potential buyer and if they’re interested you can set up a later appointment.
2. Blogger Speed Dating – As we all know, today’s customer ignores paid ads so bloggers have a huge impact in destination promotion. Here you can select among 350 travel bloggers for further cooperation.
3. Responsible Tourism Networking Event – find like-minded people with whom you can cooperate in the field of sustainability and social responsibility.

Get in contact with media representatives

ITB gathers more than 6 thousand media representatives. Your info and press releases get published in the ITB Media Center so journalists could find and contact you more easily.
Tip: In order to get coverage provide interesting stories for journalists like: “new tourist attractions”, “unusual destinations”, “modern customized tours for specific generations”… use celebrities and fascinating announcements.

Event organisation

A small tour operator can organize an event at their stand. If you want to organize a press conference, background talk, product presentation or party, you can announce it on the official Event calendar where is visible to every visitor.

Direct sales

Sell your product and services direct to the general public. Find out what kind of customers are attending ITB Weekend, so you can adjust your stand and offer to them.
Tip: use special offers, tastings, music and dance performances, mascots…anything that’s going to be catchy.

Find employees

Lots of students and young professionals are coming to find information about study programs, internships, and job offers in the travel industry. You can reach them at the ITB Career Center.

Education at the ITB Convention

Attend lectures, discussions, and workshops and find the latest news in the tourism industry. Use them for future strategic decisions.
Tip: check out innovations in the tourism industry and find out what we’ve learned at the convention in our next posts.

Exploring and enjoying

As an exhibitor, you’ll have better access to all events and after parties. Take advantage of this opportunity to connect with people in a casual environment.

As is said: “You get what you pay for” – so you know that you can get a lot by attending ITB as an exhibitor. But don’t worry. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a stand, you can always go to ITB as a trade visitor. There are lot’s of opportunities, too. In the next article we’re going to highlight all the benefits that a small tour operator gets from attending ITB as a trade visitor.

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