This year was a tough one for travel fairs. First, ITB Berlin had to be cancelled last minute in February. And that was only the beginning! Yet, big travel events like WTM London and the Phocuswright Conference in the US tried to offer industry peers a space to come together and take stock. This is how we experienced these last two weeks of online travel fairs.
This time online
Before each event, especially if you are exhibiting, there is always plenty to do. Who would have thought that it is not so different when you "only" exhibit virtually? That's what we did at this year's WTM London. True, you save on travel time, but there are different challenges to be met. In-person, it is much easier to get talking on a fair, where people buzz by and stop to hear more what your product is all about. Surprisingly, it also worked virtually - to some extend. As the coincidental passerby fell away this year, you had to even more proactively than usual search fo your discussion partners.
Phocuswright Conference, as every year, impressed with the very high quality of their interviews with the industry's top level executive. In addition, we found the industry roundtables on intermediaries and on mobility & ground transportation very inspiring and a good way to meet interesting people from the industry all over the world.
Our take away: It is not so easy to get into discussion with passersby in a virtual setting, but it is not impossible! And it was great to get talking with industry peers which we would have otherwise not met.
At this year's WTM London, our CEO Manuel Hilty was featured on two panels: One that discussed what the future of the Tours and Activities sector may look like and the second how we will be able to create the connected trip in the near future - and what still our biggest obstacles are.
As Manuel put it: "To succeed, we must only give the customer the choices they want to make. They don’t need to see everything and we strive to automate as much of this as possible."
And as we have written before, we try to make this as fast a reality as possible.
A success, but not a replacement
Despite of these unusual forms, Travel Forward as well as Phocuswright Conference have been a success. That said, we are still looking forward to hopefully be able to meet our customers and partners face-to-face again some time next year.