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ITB Asia - Interview with Dr. Martin Buck, Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore)

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Next month, the inaugural ITB Asia will take place in Singapore between 22-24 October in Singapore. Up to 5,000 travel delegates from more than 50 countries are expected to attend. So what can you expect from the show? ASIA Travel Tips.com recently posed some questions to Dr. Martin Buck, Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore), which is organising the ITB Asia and ITB Convention.

Q- ITB and Messe Berlin have toyed with entering the Asian marketplace before. What makes you feel that this latest attempt will be successful?

A- Asian demand for travel products, not just in Asia, but around the world, has grown strongly over the last 10 years. Travel has become a new necessity for millions of people around Asia. We also have a dynamic partnership with Singapore which is a formidable partner. Singapore is the most convenient location for organizing an international trade show in Asia.

Q- With so many shows around the world, including shows here in Asia, why should delegates attend the inaugural ITB Asia?

Dr. Martin Buck, Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore), organiser of the ITB Asia and ITB Convention

A- ITB Asia’s exhibitors represent a travel product variety that has rarely, if ever, been seen in Asia. Whether your interest is the leisure market, corporate travel, MICE, technology or the hotbed of issues and trends, we deliver it all within four days. Delegates will have access to the ITB Asia show floor, the ITB Asia Convention, the Web in Travel technology event, Meeting Professional International’s Asian Meetings and Events Conference 2008, and two morning sessions by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives. That is a formidable value-added line-up. Our ambition is to deliver a promise to the Asian travel market that so far has been exclusively connected to the ITB Berlin brand.

Q- What was the reasoning behind holding the ITB Asia in October?

A- Throughout much of Asia, October is an off-peak period, when senior management and sales teams can clear some diary space to attend a trade show. And we wanted to keep a lot of time between ITB Berlin and ITB Asia. Buyers and sellers have the viable option of attending both.

Q- Is there a need to attend both the ITB Berlin and also the ITB Asia, or could the latter eventually allow delegates to skip the long and costly journey to Europe in March each year?

A- Exhibitors and buyers know what works best for them – the trade shows where they get results. Of course we would love exhibitors to attend both ITB Asia and ITB Berlin. And some will. It’s more a question of ITB Asia meeting a need in Asia and delivering excellent value and networking to everyone that attends.

Q- Do you have any other ITB's planned for other region's around the world? If so, where and when?

A- The travel industry is fast moving. We will keep all options open.

Q- What made you choose Singapore to host the inaugural ITB Asia?

A- Numerous reasons: marvelous airline access, 5,000 quality hotel rooms with a few minutes walk of Suntec, high quality infrastructure, especially hotels, transport and telecoms. And STB’s commitment to attracting global trade events, especially those such as ITB Asia which is a catalyst for the high yield MICE industry, which Singapore is keen on.

Q- Do you envisage the show rotating between host cities in the future? What is ITB Asia's commitment to Singapore? Are you locked in for a number of years etc?

A- We have a three-year deal with Singapore which will be hard to beat as a host city. At the same time, it’s important for us to make sure the ITB Asia show itself works really well. After the first show we will make internal adjustments depending on buyer and seller feedback. Ideally, we would stay in Singapore after our initial three-year deal.

Q- What new technology will ITB Asia be using to enhance the user experience for delegates whether media, buyer or sellers? Smart delegate badges, RFID, enhanced security, intelligent exhibitor buying/matching technologies?

A- Our focus is on creating a comfortable and professional environment for good buyer-seller relations. We will use proven technologies that work well and bring advantages in comfort or transparency to our exhibitors. We also want to keep the cost-benefit-relationship as favourable as possible for buyers and sellers. 

Q- What is ITB Asia doing to reduce the massive amount of waste that is generated by such shows? Is ITB Asia offering any incentives to buyers or sellers to use more environmentally friendly methods of distributing information?

A- We are encouraging as much use of electronic communication as is viable. For example, our online Virtual Market Place is helping our buyers and sellers make contact and showcase their products online.

Q- Suntec has quite an impressive Green Strategy in place, but how will the ITB Asia be making a difference? Will media be bombarded with tons of paper and brochures that many do not actually need. Or is there a strategy in place to address this and if so what?

A- Media will have access to all important information online, electronic press kits on USB sticks, and an online event calendar. Delegates should only take print materials that they will use – and then recycle them when finished.

Q- How many visitors to the inaugural ITB Asia do you expect? Who will be auditing the visitor statistics?

A- In all, we are expecting up to 5,000 delegates including buyers, sellers, media and support staff. Messe Berlin Singapore will announce full numbers at the start of the event. We are still in the process of selecting an audit provider.

Q- How do you expect these numbers to grow over the next 5 years? What are your projections?

A- We’d be happy with single-digit percentage increases year on year. It’s not ultimately about the size of the event, but the quality of the buyer-seller interactions. We want ITB Asia to be synonymous with good business results for both buyers and sellers. That is more important than size of the show per se.

Q- Will ITB Asia 2009 still be held in Singapore in October?

Yes, ITB Asia II will be in Singapore in October 2009.

Q- Do you have a full list of confirmed exhibitors?

A- All exhibitors who have confirmed attendance can be found on the ITB Asia virtual marketplace at www.itb-asia.com. They cover all sectors of the industry such as destinations, airlines and airports, hotels, resorts, theme parks, attractions, inbound tour operators, inbound destination management companies, cruise lines, spas, venues, other meeting facilities, travel technology companies, media and consultants.

Q- What support have you received from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and what are they doing to make sure delegates receive a “Uniquely Singapore” experience?

A- The STB’s Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau helped by overall facilitation to ensure the staging of a successful event. ITB Asia has benefited from the bureau’s “BE in Singapore” scheme which enables the Singapore MICE industry to bid for major events. ITB Asia is part of STB’s strategy to attract renowned MICE events to the city.

Q- Do you have a special pricing strategy in place for delegates who want to exhibit at both ITB Berlin and ITB Asia? Are there discounts available to exhibitors of both events?

A- If you look at our price-benefit-ratio compared to other shows you might notice that we offer a very competitive package already.

Q- Which countries are your hosted buyers coming from?

A- The buyers are primarily from all the major markets in Asia. The buyers have been very positive as they know and trust the ITB brand. They have been very pleased with the large number and variety of exhibitors from around the world.

- end interview

With ITB Asias big brother being the largest travel trade show on earth, and with STBs creative pulling power combined with Singapores ever-growing number of attractions and outstanding infrastructure, the ITB Asia has all the key ingredients to make this event not only a huge success, but also potentially one of, if not the, biggest and most important shows in the region. It is definitely a show not to be missed.

Online booking at www.itb-asia.com/registration qualifies trade visitors for the special pre-event price of US$ 80 (on-site price US$ 120) and saves valuable time at the badge pick-up counter.

See other recent news regarding: Airlines, Aviation, Flights, HotelsPromotions, New Hotels, ITB, ITB Asia, Singapore, Travel Trade Shows

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