It’s been one month since I visited one of the coolest trade fairs I have ever been to. I flew, together with two classmates, to Berlin to visit ITB. Now for the tourism students among us, you might have heard of it. It is the biggest tourism trade fair in the world, and it is held in Berlin every year. As a Dutch person I have some experience visiting tourism trade fairs. In the Netherlands we have a very large one in January called the ‘Vakantiebeurs’. Literally means holiday fair. However, the Vakantiebeurs is focussed on consumers, whereas ITB is focussed on businesses. This blog is a bit about my experience and my recommendation to visit next year if you have the opportunity.
The reason for going to ITB was initially to see ‘what’s out there’. I’ve been studying tourism for quite some time, yet I had never been to a B2B trade fair like this. We were also hoping to find some good contacts for our thesis topics. From the moment I set foot inside the building I felt like a fish out of water. Now that might sound negative, but read on. Here I was, just having a look around and all around me people were literally working. Everybody seemed busy and focussed and super nicely dressed. Hands shaking and small talk was being held all around. It was amazing. As I said before, I had never really seen this side of the tourism business. All my tourism jobs were in the field and never really in the office. Let alone networking at such a large event. So even though I felt a bit out of place, I loved walking around and seeing what was going on. It’s a bit hard to give you an idea of the scale of the event but it was huge! My feet really hurt at the end of the day from all the walking around. The entire venue was divided into continents and specific areas, plus it spread out over several floors. There were so many destinations represented. From close to home, such as Sweden, to some future dream holiday destination like Tahiti.
Now as I wrote before, it wasn’t all fun and games. Although it was mostly really fun. We did each have our own missions though, either connected to the thesis or future jobs, and so we went our way trying to find the contact person who could help us the most. I think in the end, all our efforts were quite fruitful in helping us with our thesis topics and networking in general.
If you plan on studying TDD next year, or the bachelor tourism program, I would definitely recommend putting some money to the side for this trip. Not only is ITB a great place to network, perhaps even find a future job amongst all the companies there, it’s in Berlin as well. We went for two nights and spent a full day at ITB, but other than that we had plenty of time to have a look around Berlin as well. It’s always nice to have a change of scenery every once in a while. Plus, I’m a big believer in investing in my future, and that is exactly what I did.