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Network it!

Last week saw the world’s largest travel trade exhibition Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin known commonly as ITB Berlin. If you aren’t familiar with it, think of the UK’s very own tourism trade show World Travel Market but on steroids!

There are numerous exhibitors, some instantly recognisable such as Visit Aberdeen and Zurich Tourist Board; and others less so including Zlataritca in Bulgaria and Dalian in China.

The official country partner, Mongolia, made sure that exhibitors and visitors to the trade show would not forget them anytime soon by wowing them with a spectacular show-stopping opener. To top it off, onlookers were given a pashmina to keep.

After meeting with the Ghana Tourism Authority in one of the four corners of the venue, I decided to meander along the Middle East stands and headed to familiar territory in the European hall. I was overwhelmed by just how big the world really is.

Not only are events like ITB Berlin and WTM a great opportunity for exhibitors to show the rest of the world what they are about and what they are made of, but it’s also a great platform to meet and network with international media and bloggers. The very fact that in ITB Berlin the press room has its own hall says a lot about the scale of the exhibition – it’s no mean feat! Like a modern Babel Tower, a lot of journalists were attempting to converse with each other - German or English being the main vernaculars.

With networking firmly in my mind I decided to attend a workshop aptly entitled: Do we engage in too Much “Navel-Gazing”? Perspectives of Networking Beyond Industry Boundaries. To summarise the speakers discussed how academia, tourism and hospitality industries can learn more if we stepped out of our networks and worked together. They added that globalisation and digitalisation would require a re-thinking of traditional network structures. The discussion reminded me of our own relationship outside the world of travel and I have to say I think we do a pretty good job of looking at the bigger picture. Not only do we represent a number of networks such as Discover Ferries and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, we work with several others like CLIA and APRO. The success of these industries depends on networking and sharing best practice and we are definitely leaders of the pack. Work it team!


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