March 21 2021: As customers step out after almost a year of forced inactivity, the travel industry is getting set to meet and plan its strategy -- at trade shows and other business-to-business events.
And for the first time in 12 months, it is possible in some pockets to meet in person, even as global travel restrictions, inhibit wider participation. So, a new format for tourism trade shows is evolving: that combines a physical event with live, virtual sessions.
It’s called a hybrid event or expo.
Says Martin Barth, President & CEO, World Tourism Forum Lucerne: “We’re going to have to live with the effects of the pandemic for a while longer. We’ve drawn our lessons from it. Our physical events are smaller now, but we’re giving more people the chance to participate than ever before, thanks to an online interactive platform. Hybrid events are the magic formula. With our upcoming event, Moving Forward, that means 150 people attending physically in Andermatt, Switzerland and 50 in Beni Mellal, Morocco. Plus, hundreds online from around the world. It’s less about glitz and glamour, more about quality than quantity.”
GITEX, the Middle East’s biggest tech trade show tried this formula last year – now tourism shows are following the hybrid route, but sometimes, local challenges make it difficult:
For its inaugural Indian edition, organisers, Messe Berlin, who host ITB, the world’s biggest travel industry show, announced a hybrid physical-plus-virtual event in Mumbai. But with Maharashtra remaining a high-risk state, they have just announced that ITB India will be a purely virtual show on April 7, 8 and 9.