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ITB Berlin Convention: a big boost for one’s knowledge

The programme of events at the forthcoming ITB Convention features a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from humanoid robots, migration and integration to career advice for the next generation of tourism professionals. From 9 to 12 March 2016, at discussion rounds and lectures, speakers will be offering their candid views on examples of best practices and thought-provoking suggestions and ideas. Anyone who is interested can obtain an initial overview of the programme by visiting www.itb-convention.com/program/. The list of speakers will follow in early 2016. For trade visitors at ITB Berlin admission to the international travel industry's leading think tank is free.


On 9 March events will kick off with the ITB Future Day, which examines the mega trends and key topics of the global travel industry, including digitisation and sustainable tourism. In 2016, taking place for the second time, the World Legacy Awards will be presented by National Geographic and ITB Berlin. Costas Christ, chairman of the National Geographic World Legacy Awards and editor of National Geographic Traveler, will host the prize-giving ceremony which will be honouring winners in five categories. These include the implementation of eco-friendly business practices, the promotion of cultural authenticity and the preservation of nature.


On Thursday, 10 March, the ITB Hospitality Day will be welcoming ’Mario’. Once again, hospitalityinside.com is the exclusive media partner of this event. Mario is the youngest employee at the Ghent Marriott Hotel in Belgium, speaks 19 languages and is the first humanoid robot to work in a hotel. His inventors and the hotel director will be explaining how he came into being, as well as his tasks at the hotel. On Friday, 11 March visitors to the ITB Marketing and Distribution Day will be able to witness a live demonstration of robots in action. AikoChihira, a humanoid robot, will be showing what tourism might look like in the future. The luxury travel market is currently undergoing a paradigm shift. Tourists are now in favour of authenticity, self-discovery and unforgettable experiences rather than excessive luxury and opulence. On Friday, 11 March, a discussion round will be examining this trend. Following a motivational speech by abbot emeritus Daniel Schönbächler of the Benedictine monastery of Disentis, a discussion will take place with Brett McDonald, managing director of Flame of Africa; Dr. Ute Dallmeier, managing director of Windrose Finest Travel, and Thomas P. Illes, a cruise analyst, university lecturer and journalist. Marc Aeberhard, proprietor of Luxury Hotel & Spa Management Ltd, will moderate the event.


The EU’s new package travel directive will also be the subject of intense debate. The directive raises many as yet unanswered questions for conventional travel agencies and online portals. At what point does tour operator liability affect travel agencies? When does a “click- through booking“ become package travel and what regulations will there be to protect against bankruptcy? Prof. Dr. Ernst Führich, professor of Travel Law, formerly at Hochschule Kempten; Stephen Mason, senior partner in Travlaw LLP, and publisher of Travel Law Quarterly; Dr. Georg Koch; Prof. Dr. Klaus Tonner, emeritus professor of European Law at the University of Rostock; and Klaus Siebert, partner in Siebert Rechtsanwälte, will be discussing the status quo and the impact of the new directive. Nadine Kasszian, editor of fvw, will moderate the event.


In his paper on 11 March at the ITB Marketing and Distribution Day, Prof. Dr. Martin Lohmann, managing director of New Insights for Tourism (NIT), Kiel, Forschungsgemeinschaft Urlaub und Reisen e.V., Kiel, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, will be talking about happiness levels and the latest findings of this new branch of research, which the travel industry would do well to exploit. Besides relaxing, more and more tourists want to experience happiness and well-being on their trips. The latest travel analysis findings illustrate how tourism products and marketing communications can be optimised to achieve this.


From 9 to 11 March at the ITB Destination Days, topics will include refugees, migration and tourism. The influx of refugees across Europe also poses major challenges for tourism destinations such as Turkey, Greece, Italy and Austria. On 10 March, Prof. Dr. Harald Pechlaner, president of AIEST and Tourism Faculty chair at Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt; Prof Dr Jürgen Schmude, president of DGT and chair of the Faculty of Economic Geography and Tourism Research at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, as well as Dr. Dirk Glaesser, director of the UNWTO Sustainable Development Programme, will be presenting their international findings and shedding light on an up-to-the-minute topic.


Climate change also poses a challenge for tourism around the world. On 11 March at the ITB CSR Day, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and one of the world’s most acknowledged researchers, will be among those talking about the tourism regions most at risk, and the developments and results of research in this field. Aziz Abu Sarah, founder of Mejdi Tours, tour operator, and a multi award-winning, highly regarded keynote speaker, will be explaining how tourism can help to prevent violent conflicts, and how promoting peace and achieving success in the tourism industry can go hand in hand.


On 9 March, the ITB Young Professionals Day will be offering advice for the next generation of tourism professionals. Jasmine Taylor, CEO of JT Touristik, will hold the ITB CEO speech. She will be highlighting career paths in tourism and explaining how young people can achieve success in their new jobs, providing their general attitude is right. Jochen Mai, economics correspondent and author of career books, will be explaining correct business etiquette, i.e. the customs to observe and pitfalls to avoid at the workplace. In an interview, Michael Buller, chairman of Verband Internet Reisevertrieb, will have tips on how students taking tourism courses can improve their career chances by acquiring technological expertise.


Once again, the ITB Berlin eTravel World in Hall 6.1 remains one step ahead. By offering lectures and workshops on travel technology, mobile solutions and social media in the travel industry this platform has already made a name for itself with established companies and up-and-coming startups. Next year, the topics for discussion in the eTravel Lab and on the eTravel Stage will include digital nomads, influencer marketing and responsive web design.


 Furthermore, experienced specialists will have information on the latest developments regarding big data and the sharing economy. To mark the 50th anniversary of ITB Berlin the story of travel technology will also be told, with a look ahead to the future. Sponsored by Traffics, the centrally located ITB eTravel Lounge in Hall 6.1 will once again offer a place to network in 2016. 

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