ITB Berlin 2018 kicked off today with its gaze turned toward the future of travel and hospitality.
And what a promising and exciting, if challenging, future it appears to be.
“Global tourism growth speeds up,” headlines the latest ITB World Travel Trends Report, prepared by IPK International. This extensively researched annual publication reports that with 6% growth worldwide in outbound trips and a robust 7% increase in international tourism arrivals, “The global travel industry has grown faster in 2017 than for several years.”
And the tourism consultancy firm is forecasting that “2018 will be yet another year with positive growth rates in worldwide outbound trips,” with an estimated increase of around 5%.
The goal of many here at ITB Berlin will be to determine how best to capitalize on the new business opportunities that will come with this healthy growth and globalization of the industry.
And of course, ITB Berlin is hailed as a convention where the groundbreakers lead the industry into the next stages of its evolution through innovation, advances in technology, and seismic transformations of old standards.
With that in mind, here’s a look at highlights from day one of this influential event, aptly dubbed ITB Future Day.
The future of travel is digital
“Travel starts well before the act of traveling. It starts with the inspiration, with the search, with the booking,” explained Dr. Bernhard Rohleder, CEO of Bitkom (Germany’s digital association) at his press conference earlier today.
And no matter how or where the inspiration to travel strikes, when the traveler goes to gather information, compare options, and complete their booking, they’re shifting to the digital sphere.
Which is why it’s so crucial for hotel companies to have an online presence, a way to connect with customers in the digital world. And just as important, a way to process bookings online.
The future of overtourism is concerning, but manageable
With growth comes growing pains. IPK International found that 25% of tourists in 2017 felt that their destination was overcrowded. This year’s ITB Berlin will in part be a forum for the industry’s thought leaders to tackle the issue of overtourism, to come up with new strategies to manage increasing numbers of visitors — without restricting growth.
Because as the industry grows, overtourism will become more of a burden on the environment, local cultures and peoples, and on the tourists themselves. It could even adversely impact the steady growth the industry has enjoyed over the years.
Destination associations and businesses in the tourism industry will be working in 2018 (and beyond) to find ways to redistribute the heavy surges of visitors more evenly throughout the year, rather than stagnate tourism in their areas.
If managed well, this could mean an overall increase in bookings and a steadier month-to-month revenue stream for hotels.
The future of disruptive technology is AI . . . and yes, blockchain
Several of today’s workshops and discussions revealed that AI is already working its way into the fabric of hospitality. It seems to be the natural solution to the question of how to imbue the guest experience with greater personalization, from intelligent search engines that provide spot-on hotel recommendations to individualized upsell offerings, digital concierge services, and more.
And of course, we can’t talk about the future of hotel technology without mentioning blockchain.
We keep hearing two opposing opinions on blockchain technology. On the one hand, we hear that it’s the most revolutionary technology to come along in years and will completely transform the industry. On the other hand, we hear that it’s overhyped and it will be decades before it enters the travel and hospitality scene.
The reality of what blockchain means to the industry is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, Norm Rose, the president of Travel Tech Consulting, Inc., tells us in a panel discussion. Yes, we’ll see blockchain entering the industry and influencing areas such as hotel pricing transparency, loyalty building, and solutions for overbooking. But as a young emerging technology still largely misunderstood, it has some barriers to overcome before the industry adopts it fully.
At booth 315 in Hall 9, we’re right in the thick of this exciting conference. trivago’s market experts from across the world are here speaking with hoteliers, OTAs, and connectivity providers about how trivago can help them reach — and further — their business goals.
This year, we also have our team of product developers and designers here at the booth, and they’re inviting hotel professionals to come to their trivago Lab to try out and give feedback on new features.
So if you’re attending the event, be sure to stop by!
If you’re not in Berlin but would still like to learn about the technology trivago provides to hoteliers, we can help. Follow the link below to fill out a short contact form and someone will be in touch with you (it’s free):
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