Just days back from Berlin, we’re still on a tourism and travel high from joining the Arival and ITB conferences. Both of these events brought exhibitors representing every corner of the world under the roof of one amazing city. Our expectations were exceeded when we were joined by the 160,000 attendees who all gave us some serious insight into our industry and current travel trends.
In between logging countless miles (or kilometers) walking the exhibition halls, the FareHarbor team held it down in Berlin visiting with partners, clients, and new and old friends alike. As we keep expanding into Europe and other areas of the world, it’s important to stick to our FareHarbor roots and develop those genuine connections we were founded on, and we were very happy to find that those came very naturally during our time in Berlin. From visiting with tourism boards, tour operators, and sitting in on different segments, we noticed a few trending topics emphasizing sustainability and overtourism in the travel space, technology continuing to expand for operators but not at the cost of exceptional service, and bridging the gap between all in the tourism industry.
FareHarbor’s Top Takeaways from Arival and ITB
Operators in all areas of the travel industry are putting a higher emphasis on sustainability and overtourism. Areas such as Costa Rica, South Africa, and Venice who have relied heavily on ecotourism in the past have have come forward and began to take new approaches into preserving their rural populations and increasing environmental protection. Costa Rica themselves are sustaining their energy sources by using 99 percent renewable energy and have recently undergone massive reforestation efforts to counter the overtourism in ideal areas for European hiking and beach holidays. Other’s have joined in the sustainability efforts including the home to FareHarbor headquarters, Colorado, asking all who travel to the outdoor activity focused area to leave all plastic bottles at home, or better yet, get rid of them altogether. The main question to come from these discussions: Who will be the ones to take responsibility and be the agents of change?
Technology continues to build on the ease of travel and areas of booking – and not at the cost of good service for their customers. People are excited about the advancements of tech in travel and that definitely showed at a conference as massive ITB with the introduction of the Technology, Travel, and Activities forum, the eTravel World area growing by 20 percent since last year, and in our experience, technology and activities being the most talked about topic throughout the conference. FareHarbor’s own, Drew Barrett, took the stage at the Tech, Tours, and Activities forum and was able to give some insight into why a mobile friendly experience is crucial for booking activities and tours online with one important statistic. 70% of travelers use their phone while traveling. The people booking last minute, or two days ahead of time make up 63 percent of all activity bookings which is moving mobile friendly reservations to the top of a lot of operators to-do lists.
Celebrating International Women’s Day while in Berlin presented a great segway into how the tour and travel industry is making strides in bridging gaps across the board. Being the worlds leading travel trade show, ITB has opened a number of doors for voices around the world. As a company who supports the utmost inclusive environments for all, we were excited to be apart of an industry that across the globe, more women work in than men and income disparities are smaller than other industries. Also coming from the Global Report on Women in Tourism, our industry offers women a better chance of reaching executive positions and further, becoming successfully self-employed. The LGBT+ tourism community has also not only made strides in the ITB space, but the tourism and travel world as well, noting that more and more countries are legalizing or embarking on recognizing civil partnerships between same gender partners. This has lead to a boom in LBGT+ travel in a number of countries.
And for all of those tour operators asking for FareHarbor to make a move into your area of the world, we’re coming for you and we’ll be there soon! In the meantime, we’re so glad to have been a part of ITB and Arival in Berlin and we’ll be back next year with more stroopwafels! Many of the speakers on these discussions mentioned above recognize the travel industry still has a lot of room to grow and improve, but as a whole, we are headed in a great direction. We believe this is the case for everything we took away during our time in Berlin, and we can’t wait to see what next year brings! Find all of these highlights among many other discussed at ITB by visiting the ITB eLibrary.