ITB Berlin Convention – From a travel blogger’s viewpoint

A few days ago, I’ve been to the ITB convention in Berlin, one of the world’s largest conventions in this field. So far, I’ve been to blogger-only conventions – TBEX, but this time I’ve decided to go to the public convention and see what that’s like. I’ve tried reading about it and about what to expect as a blogger but didn’t find much information online, which is why I’ve decided to write a post about my personal experience, as well as logistic matters.

Blogger Sign-up

As it turns out, bloggers may receive free entrance to the convention if they uphold certain criteria (I hadn’t known it originally, and had already purchased a 60-euro three-day ticket… But that’s just me being impatient and not reading the instructions properly :)).

The advantage of signing up as a blogger is the ability to take part in “speed-dating” with companies in the tourism field, which can prove a great business opportunity for a blog.

Acceptance criteria as a blogger

To receive an entrance ticket as a blogger, you need to meet the following conditions:

  1. Operate a blog for over half a year
  2. Have upwards of 4000 monthly views of your blog

You’re asked to mail screenshots of analytics to prove the number of monthly visitors.

Following my registration, I received an e-mail that my sign-up was being processed, and that if I pass the requirements – I’ll receive conformation within a few days.

And so, a few days later, I receive an e-mail telling me I met the criteria, with a printable ticket attached. Additionally, I received a username and password for the system where I had to fill out my blog’s profile to later be used for the speed-dating sign-up, as well. Put effort into your profile, as it’s the profile the companies will see when setting up speed-dating meetings – Their decision whether to meet with you or not will be based on it.

Speed-dating sign-up

I signed-up for the convention in January. Early during February, I received an e-mail beginning the speed-dating sign-up process.

The speed-dating meetings get snatched up quite quickly, so I’d recommend starting the sign-up process as quickly as possible upon receiving the e-mail, looking for companies fitting your blog’s niche and sending them a request for a meet.

It’s important to note there’s only an hour and a half available for speed-dating and only 9 companies you’ll be able to meet during that time. As soon as there’s a match for a meeting, you won’t be able to cancel it – so it’s important to only approach companies you’re interested in meeting with, and not trying your luck with as many meets as possible randomly.

I’d recommend attaching a short letter to every request, since many bloggers will be approaching each of these companies – so it’s important for you to address why you, specifically, could be a good match for cooperation with them (Don’t write a generic letter to all of them either, try and be personal). If the company green-lights the meeting, you’ll receive an e-mail confirming a match.

If it comes to it, you’ll receive an e-mail declining a meeting, usually accompanied by a letter explaining their reasoning. I’ve received several such letters, for example from a company aiming at a German speaking audience while my blog mainly caters to an English or Hebrew speaking demographic.
If you’re not approved, the system will advise searching for another meeting.

Preparation prior to the ITB convention

This convention is the largest I’ve ever been to. On arrival, I just stood there in reverence and had no idea what to do – So It’s important to do some preparation beforehand, to get the maximum out of your time at the convention. It hosts representatives from 180 countries, each one setting up many stalls by many companies. It’s crazy!!!

I’d recommend thinking of which countries interest you in terms of cooperation and checking where their stalls are to be located. There’s a map of the convention on the ITB website, there you can see where each country’s stalls are.

Moreover, there are many lectures (Some in English and some in German). Since it’s not a blogger-only convention, many of these aren’t relevant for bloggers. You should definitely go over the timeline of lectures and see when and where they take place.

I’d recommend getting to lectures 15 minutes early as well, seeing as spots get filled quickly, and you won’t be allowed inside if there aren’t any seats open. This happened to me, the lecture was already full, and the employees didn’t want to let me in – but one saw I had a blogger’s tag and let me in anyway (I’m not sure how often they allow that, so it’s much better to arrive early. Also, I had to sit on the floor, which is less pleasant).

It’s vitality important to bring visiting tickets, media kit and the ticket you were sent via e-mail printed out.

ITB Convention

General, good-to-know facts

The convention has free wi-fi. There are many restaurants and stalls for coffee and street food. Prices at the convention are reasonably priced, but water is really expensive – About 4 euros for a small bottle, So I’d recommend buying water outside.

You need to bring a printed ticket (I recommend color-printed) and you can head for the press entrance to ask for a chain to hang the ticket around your neck. The convention offers coat and bag storage, at 2.5 euros for a coat and 4 euros for a bag.

Since the convention is so big, there are shuttles outside as well as many information desks where you can ask for help and direction, so you’ll know where to go. You can ask for a map to help you orientate, as well.

The ITB convention to a blogger

As I’ve mentioned, this convention is huge! I was there for five days, a few hours each day, and still didn’t get to see all of it. On the first day I was too stunned and just wandered between rooms. On the next day, however, I came focused and went to specific rooms based on the countries I was interested in. The speed-dating took place on the second day, as well, which was very impressive and quick 🙂

Since so many people pass each station, the representatives don’t have much time for talking and aren’t always readily available. If you’re visiting the convention planning on creating cooperative ties, you’ve got the active, head for the stalls and introduce yourself.

The ultimate goal is to leave with the PR/Marketing calling card of the stalls you’re interested in, so that you may be able to address them privately by e-mail and discuss working together. At several stalls, the one available happened to be the person in charge of cooperation with bloggers and I got to converse with them for a few minutes and not just trade business cards.

I also got to listen to a lecture about SEO by Fili Wiese, a former google employee who’s been in the business for 14 years. The lecture was highly professional and productive, and I even got to ask Fili a couple more questions at the end of it. There were many other lectures but as I mentioned, I was in a bit of a shock, and only later found out I’ve missed another lecture that could have been of interest for me.

The ITB convention in general

Beyond being a wonderful opportunity to associate, it’s also very impressive and interesting. I felt as if visiting the entire world over the course of a few days. Every country had fitting décor, and some even had different sets for different regions. There were also shows and costumes, and even little souvenirs you could take.

Some countries served little treats of local food. There were also plays, games and unique exhibits. It was very demographically diverse, there were businessmen, families, bloggers, couples, singles, youths and adults. The convention allows you to see destinations you’ve not thought of or had known before and might fit your blog.

In conclusion,

If you’re bloggers – I’d most definitely recommend visiting the ITB convention, especially to those who’s blog is their business and not just a hobby. The speed-dating is very productive and allowed me to meet companies and hadn’t known previously (And creating a connection face to face is much better than through e-mails). I left the convention with different possibilities for cooperation and ideas for new destinations, and I’m excited to see what might come of it. At any rate, I’m eagerly waiting for new year’s convention 🙂

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