We Love Travel!: Despite the coronavirus people still keen to travel


From 16 to 18 October a total of 90 exhibitors and more than 75 speakers appeared before an online audience and representatives of the travel industry and the general public

As a result of the crisis the tourism industry now has a better understanding of the risks, but has also recognised the potential for new opportunities. Travellers are displaying greater environmental and socially responsible awareness, for example. That was the takeaway from all the discussions on the Friday for B2B visitors at the virtual We Love Travel! event. Providing organisers, service providers and customers draw the right conclusions, the potential exists for a future with profits, highly satisfied customers and a long-term positive effect on source countries and destinations.

From 16 to 18 October a total of 90 exhibitors and more than 75 speakers appeared before an online audience and representatives of the travel industry and the general public. The presentations and discussion rounds were live-streamed from Arena Berlin. Selected presentations from the Friday for B2B visitors are already available as videos free of charge at itb.com/virtualconvention. Individual events from the programme on Saturday and Sunday will be released soon on the Berlin Travel Festival YouTube channel.

The show jointly organised by ITB Berlin and the Berlin Travel Festival demonstrated that it is already possible to hold events attracting widespread public interest. However, concepts have to be adapted to the new situation. We Love Travel! was originally planned as a hybrid event with exhibitors and in-person visitor attendance. Due to the latest coronavirus developments in Germany the organisers decided to change the concept from a hybrid to an entirely virtual event at short notice. “Ever since the first ITB in Berlin in 1966 our mission has not changed. ITB has been gathering the international travel industry and with it people from all over the world for over 50 years. That continues to be our mission, whether at in-person, hybrid or virtual events. Despite the industry now finding itself in probably its worst ever crisis, We Love Travel! showed the importance of exchanging information and good networking, especially now“, said David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin.

Bernd Neff, the founder and director of the Berlin Travel Festival, noted how important is was to keep looking ahead: “One could say that We Love Travel! was therapeutic. It recognised the symptoms, diagnosed the problem and prescribed a treatment. We saw that the industry was longing for an opportunity to talk to one another – so we established a networking platform for exchanging information. We invited professional experts to diagnose the problems. And ultimately we provided inspiration and motivation to help both the industry and travel enthusiasts keep looking ahead.”

Viewers, speakers and exhibitors praise the format
Viewers were full of praise for the event being transformed so quickly into an entirely virtual event in response to the current Covid-19 situation in Berlin. Live-streaming the We Love Travel! not only made it possible for viewers to follow the three-day programme from any location, it also gave them the opportunity to chat with other viewers and put questions live to the speakers and moderators.

High-level networking platform
ITB Berlin has always provided the travel industry with a successful platform for business, content and networking. Even if face-to-face meetings naturally offered the best chance of establishing successful partnerships, the entirely virtual event had to feature networking as well. Thus the We Love Travel! platform provided an opportunity for AI-based, virtual networking with industry representatives and invited the participants to a total of three online networking sessions. With the networking platform attracting more than 650 users, the event jointly organised by ITB Berlin and the Berlin Travel Festival can count as a success. Exhibitors, buyers, speakers, trade visitors and representatives of the media arranged some 1,000 individual meetings with each other. Overall, more than 700 new business ties were established between participants, with over 98 per cent giving positive ratings.

Martina von Münchhausen, a tourism expert at WWF Germany, who took part as an exhibitor and in the programme, “WWF Germany reported on the state of the planet and the challenges facing tourism in the future at the virtual event. As a tourism expert I was able to respond to the questions from the audience. The networking platform provided an additional opportunity to make direct contact with important industry players. Many thanks to the We Love Travel! team for a successful event.“

Olaf Lieberwirth from TMB Tourismus-Marketing Brandenburg GmbH particularly liked the new approach to targeting travellers and said “for us, the virtual We Love Travel! Festival offered an exciting and fascinating alternative for addressing our future guests and visitors. The amount of technology involved was impressive.”

On the weekend alone more than 40 speakers told their stories about stormy seas in South Africa, the bars in Tehran and coast of South America. High points included a multivision show by Ulla Lohmann, a photojournalist and filmmaker, who gave a passionate account of how she had fulfilled her life’s dream to be the first woman to explore an active volcano. Hitchhiker and globetrotter Stefan Korn’s stories about crossing 56 countries in two years also kept viewers glued to their screens. The lecture given by Anselm Pahnke, who travelled 3,000 kilometres by bicycle across the Kalahari Desert on his own, was also one of the best-attended weekend events for the public.