ITB Berlin – the biggest tourism trade fair in the world – is coming up in March, and with it come many questions. This guest post by Yvonne Zagermann is a beginner’s guide for all of you travel bloggers who never been to ITB and/or Berlin.
What is ITB, and why should travel bloggers care?
- ITB is the world’s biggest tourism trade fair. It’s not a conference, it’s a B2B platform for trade visitors. Destinations, tour operators, booking systems, carriers, hotels, and all other suppliers in the worldwide tourism industry are going to be there. Their main goal is to do business with their business partners – and this could also be you. There’s no other opportunity to meet and network with so many people from the tourism industry than ITB in Berlin.
- 2013 is only the second year travel bloggers can register for ITB. While in 2011 all I got when mentioning my travel blog was a weary smile, last year’s ITB started the “honeymoon phase” between the tourism industry and travel bloggers.
- This year even more travel bloggers are registered, and with events like the ITB speed-dating sponsored by TBEX, the possibilities for travel bloggers to connect with industry people are even better than in the years before.
- Here’s a listing of all ITB events recommended for travel bloggers.
When is ITB?
- ITB is happening from March 6th until March 10th.
- For you as a travel blogger, the first three days (March 6th – 8th) are the most important ones, as these are the ones during which business is made. On the weekend, ITB is open for everyone, which means not only crowded halls but also that many PR and marketing managers won’t be there anymore.
- The best thing would be to plan your trip from March 5th until March 10th to get the most out of ITB and Berlin.
- ITB starts on the evening of March 5th with the Travel Massive event at ITB Berlin.
Where should I stay during ITB – and how do I get there?
- As ITB is held at the Messe Berlin trade show grounds, it would be best to stay close to the “Ringbahn,” two S-Bahn lines (S41 and S42) circling Berlin (each in one direction), or somewhere in the Western part of Berlin like Schöneberg, Wilmersdorf and Charlottenburg, best would be close to S-Bahn lines S7, S75 or S5 and U-Bahn line U2.
- Many hotels/hostels are already fully booked, as not only travel bloggers from all over the world are attending ITB but also (it seems) nearly everyone else from the tourism industry. If you can’t find an hotel room, check on whether apartments are available through Housetrip, Airbnb, or similar websites. To save money, you can also share an apartment with other travel bloggers attending the show.
- To find the best transportation connection from your accommodation to ITB I recommend downloading this app. Some hotels offer a free shuttle service, which may impact your accommodation choices.
- Please note: ITB is huge. So make sure you know in which hall you need to be in order to choose the right entrance and arrival station. You’ll find more transportation information here, and you can download a hall plan for ITB. And yes, there’s also an app for that.
Where should I eat at ITB?
- Food at ITB is very expensive and normally you will be very busy running around from one meeting to the other so you won’t have time to leave ITB to go for lunch somewhere else. Here’s a tip: Eat as much as you can for breakfast, bring a Bretzel or some other snacks, or plan an extra budget for lunch at ITB. Some exhibitors also offer some samples for free – for example, you can get really good (free!) coffee at the Columbia stand, or ice cream during lunch time at the Hertz stand.
- For dinner, it’s best to find a nice restaurant close to where you’re staying, or crash one of the many ITB after-show parties. There will be also many press breakfasts. Most of these events, however, are invitation only. Ask your PR contacts if their clients are planning any such events and if they are interested in having bloggers attend. This is also a good opportunity to talk to possible business partners, if they may not have time for a separate meeting.
How should I prepare for ITB?
- Set your appointments now! If you missed registration for the ITB speed-dating sponsored by TBEX you can also set up a profile here and contact industry people directly to ask if they are interested in working with bloggers.
- Prep for your speed dating appointments with these tips.
- Use networking events like Travel Massive on Tuesday evening and the tweet up on Wednesday evening to meet up with people, or tell people they can meet you there.
- Think about what you want to pitch and how.
- Pimp up your media kit and bring plenty of business cards.
- There are a few more “how-to ITB” tips you’ll find here.
What else is there to see and do in Berlin?
If this is your first time in Berlin, better plan some extra days before or after ITB as you won’t have time to explore this gorgeous city during the trade show. The best option would be to stay over the weekend after ITB, as some more bloggers will be still in town, you’re done with business talk, and you can enjoy exploring Berlin. Here are some visitor’s tips for newcomers to Berlin:
And if you want to find the perfect place to celebrate your new business partnership, there’s always the ClubMatcher!
Author bio: Yvonne Zagermann is the publisher of JustTravelous, an award winning travel blog in German and English. She’s also a member of iAmbassador and co-founder of Reiseblogger Kollektiv, a travel bloggers network for the German tourism market. She’s based in Berlin.