ITB China 2018: Bigger and Better

2018 edition of the show goes well beyond expectations – for attendees and exhibitors

The goal of organisers at this year’s ITB China to simply make it “bigger and better” was met – in all respects.

Visitors, exhibitors and buyers all claimed to be satisfied with ITB China 2018. In its second year, the success of ITB China is reflected in the heavy demand for floor space and a significant increase of visitors. Compared to the inaugural event in 2017, gross exhibition space as well as the attendees rose by 50%, underpinning the fact that ITB China is continuing its success story.

“With its 700 exhibiting companies from 80 countries, 15,000 attendees participating, and China becoming the driving force for the growth of the global travel industry, ITB China is establishing itself as the must-attend event for anyone looking to establish a strong presence here. The results are remarkable considering it is only the second show. The performance is a strong base which promises even more growth next year”, said Dr Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin.

The organisers extended the hosted buyer program this year. In all, there were around 800 buyers at the event this year, an increase of over 30% over the 2017 edition. Diversity was very high again with Chinese buyers coming from over 300 different companies throughout the nation, representing the full range of China’s largest industry players. 73% of the Chinese Leisure, MICE and Corporate buyers came from mainland China (outside Shanghai), 24% from Shanghai province and the remaining 3% from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. More than 15,000 prescheduled appointments maximised business opportunities of both exhibitors and buyers. The organisers also launched a completely new matchmaking system perfectly catering to the needs of both exhibitors and buyers using desktop, mobile, APP or WeChat interfaces.

TRAVEL PROS LOVE THE EVENT
Leading trade professionals present at the show were singing its praises. Lu Jun, Managing Director, China Travel Group Shanghai said, “ITB China was very well organised and set high standards in terms of the quality of both exhibitors and buyers. The show displays set off the exhibition and conference just perfectly. As a member of the China National Travel Service, I felt honored to attend this year’s show. I believe that this will surely lay a solid foundation for our future communication and cooperation with domestic and foreign counterparts, which we expect will come very soon.”

Expectations for the event’s future are particularly bullish. Lin Yan, Senior Vice President, Utour Group stated, “As one of the largest travel operators in China we have gained a lot from ITB China. We expect and believe that ITB China will become the world’s largest and most successful tourism exhibition. The reason why ITB Berlin is the largest travel show to date is that Germany was the largest source market back then, with 70 million German travellers going abroad every year given its population of 80 million. Since 2016, China has become the world’s largest source country, so ITB China implies exceptional potential. ITB China expanded 50% over the last year and the event has developed rapidly. Both exhibitors and buyers are highly dedicated, especially buyers, which shows that the organizers of ITB China boasts in-depth knowledge on the Chinese market. Exhibitors presented highly differentiated products.”

ITB China focuses exclusively on the Chinese tourism industry with International companies and Chinese companies meeting with Chinese trade visitors. The exhibitors came from 80 countries as far as Argentina, Brazil, Chile or the Middle East, such as UAE as well as partner destination Finland.

EUROPE UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT ITB
China was an official partner event of the EU China Tourism Year, a major initiative launched jointly by the European Commission and the Chinese government. The exhibition featured a high number of individual national pavilions from across Europe. In addition, the European Travel Commission had a strong exhibition presence on the show floor showcasing a multitude of European destinations. Eduardo Santander, Executive Director, European Travel Commission was present at ITB China for the second year running, stating, “Unity is strength. Europe needs to remain competitive in China. Only through deeper cooperation with Chinese authorities and an increased commitment of the European tourism sector supporting targeted joint public-private marketing initiatives, Europe will succeed in fostering more travellers from China. The strong cooperation with ITB China will help us reaching these goals.”

STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS
Finland was the partner destination of this year’s show. Director, Head of Global Sales Promotion, Visit Finland said, “We expect this co-operation with ITB China to further strengthen our position in China. This year Finland was represented at ITB China by 28 companies around Finland with a delegation of 45 Finnish travel industry professionals. Our goal at ITB China is to promote Finland as year-round destination and to introduce for example Finnish Lakeland Region to Chinese travellers. Travel from China to Finland has been growing too rapidly. We expect this growth to continue also during the coming years.”

Further key partnerships included China Tourism Association, the largest industry association for China’s travel and tourism industry with 4,000 members, the China Tourism Academy, a research institution directly under the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) with a focus on studies in the tourism industry, and Wyndham Hotel Group as the official hotel partner.

ITB CHINA CONFERENCE: THE INDUSTRY THINK TANK
The ITB China Conference was confirmed as China’s travel think tank, having hosted around 70 sessions featuring 120 high-level speakers. With a total of around 4,000 attendees, up from 2,700 last year, the keynotes, lectures and workshops proved to be major visitor attractions again. The Conference featured sessions on Customised Travel, which has become an important and fastgrowing segment for Chinese travellers, with dedicated sessions devoted to sports tourism, Revenue Management for hotels or animal friendly tourism.

The new Business Travel Day and the Education & Job Day were also very well followed by attendees. On 17 May 2018, the ITB China Conference offered everyone working in the business travel market an ideal platform for training and networking at the Business Travel Day. Practical workshops with up-to-date information on methods and strategies provided both career newcomers and corporate travel managers with first-hand knowledge and updates. This year’s exclusive partners were CITS American Express Global Business Travel, Carlson Wagonlit Travel China and BCD Travel.

For the first time ITB China dedicated the last day of the ITB China Conference, 18 May 2018, as ‘Education & Job Day’ in partnership with Fudan University & Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Tourism management students and jobseekers attended the morning sessions of the Education Day, checked the job wall and were able to make immediate contact with personnel managers in the fully booked Job Area with more than 40 companies, institutions and universities, such as Ctrip, JinJiang, Sabre, Carlson Wagonlit Travel China or Wyndham Hotel Group, exhibiting.

STARTUP AWARDS – TIMEKETTLE AND TRAVELFLAN TAKE HONOURS
The ITB China Startup Awards took place for the second time this year. The awards acknowledge outstanding new products and services that were introduced less than two years ago and which anticipate major market potential. For the first time, there were two equal winners: Timekettle, a Shenzhen based company, convinced the jury with their WT2 translator, a smart and wearable real-time translating earphone. The Hong Kong-based travel platform TravelFlan won over the jury by providing travellers with a personalized and hasslefree travel experience with the use of AI Technology.

IT’S MY WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS
For the first time Qyer and ITB China co-organised the IT’S MY WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS, honouring Chinese key opinion leaders (KOL) as well as global destinations across all sectors of Chinese outbound travel. Among the winners, were the famous Chinese actress Huang Lu, who won in the category “Travelers of the year” or Chinese actor Xia Yu winning in the category “Pioneers of Travel & Tourism”. The award honours companies for their innovations in order to help all those involved in the industry meeting the needs of the Chinese travellers. The ceremony was followed by an exclusive Gala Dinner. Exhibitors to ITB China were able to talk and meet with China’s most influential KOL’s, in order to promote their destination.

MARKET INTRODUCTION PROGRAMME
The ITB China Market Introduction Programme made its debut this year. The newly launched programme was designed for international travel industry professionals who had no or little experience with the Chinese travel market. Companies or institutions who aimed to gather first experiences with the Chinese travel industry, could easily establish first contacts and got useful information about this dynamic industry and market. Inaugural partner, VIR (Verband Internet Reisevertrieb, Germany’s leading association for the online travel industry) sent a delegation to China for the first time.

MEDIA ATTENDANCE UP OVER 70%
The number of registered Chinese and international journalists reporting from ITB China this year was 260, up from 150 in 2017. The event offered numerous opportunities for networking and making new valuable industry contacts during numerous events, such the Opening Dinner on the eve of the show, the ITB China Cruise Night 2.0 sponsored by Ctrip, the Party Like a Finn evening, hosted by the partner destination, Finland, the ITB China European Night, powered by the EU-China Tourism Year as well as numerous late functions.
DATE SET FOR 2019
The date for ITB China 2019 is already set: Wednesday to Friday, 15 to 17 May 2019 at Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre.