Messe Berlin had been circulating press releases indicating record participation numbers, however many ITB exhibitors were disappointed at ITB 2017 in Berlin this year.
The largest travel industry event in the world had record visitors from Berlin on public visiting days, but business overall on trade days appeared to be more quiet.
On Thursday many exhibitors and visitors left Berlin early due to an airport strike canceling almost every flight leaving from both airports in Berlin.
Taxi drivers told eTN business is by far less compared to years before.
eTN talked to 50 exhibitors. 45 told eTurboNews ITB 2017 was less busy and it was not worth their investment considering the very high rate ITB is charging to exhibit. With ITB Asia, ITB China in place, with WTM having regional trade shows in Africa, South America, and Asia- there may be too many events to compete for the same market.
Visitors said hotel rates are kept high, even though many hotels were not fully booked during this year’s ITB.
Many exhibitors told eTN, quality buyers were missing. As it has been for decades the number one complaint was: Long walks to get from point A to B. It made on time appointments impossible.
Visitors, journalists, and exhibitors were unhappy with the new event venue City Cube. City Cube events had low participation. Long walkways, confusing signing made it less attractive to attend events, press conferences, and seminars.
Some journalist were displeased with ITB public relations management making it a challenge to obtain accreditation. An eTN reporter was interrogated to give details of articles he presented to get media accreditation.
Many see ITB Berlin as a monopoly – and it may still be one, but competition is obviously getting stronger.
ZImbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality sums it up for eTN:
The biggest beneficiary is Germany which hiked accommodation rates three-fold. I think ITB should not come out as a cash cow, but be the premier global meeting point, otherwise it starts loosing it’s value. Stakeholders at all costs should not blackmail ITB visitors through unhelpful strikes which scare traders prematurely out of the destination before deals are concluded. Otherwise our stand reported brisk business, and we in for the long haul