In 2019 I was an official blogger at ITB Berlin and it was the second year I did that. ITB Berlin is the biggest travel fair in the world with more than 10000 exhibitors from 180 countries, so all the big players in the industry are here. I learnt some things from last years’ experience and this year it was even better. There are tons of opportunities so all you must do is go there and be prepared to reach them!
What is ITB Berlin?
ITB Berlin stands for Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin and it is the biggest travel fair in the world. It takes place every year in March and it is organised in Berlin at Meese Berlin, a gigantic expo centre. The expo centre has 3 floors, over 25 halls and several restaurants and cafes. Sometimes to get from one hall to another it can take more than 30 minutes and that is why there are some shuttle buses for transport. To help visitors find their way faster, on each hall there are maps of the centre and there is even an app you can download. I still got lost 2 times.
There are 2 main entrances in this big expo centre: South Entrance (5 minutes from the Messe Süd S-Bahn station) or the East Entrance (around 10-15 minutes walking from the WestKreuz S-Bahn station or 10-15 minutes walking from the Messe Nord S-Bahn station).
And once you are in, the fun begins! The fair usually lasts 5 days: the first 3 days are for those that come with business, the last 2 days are also for public. If you are not an exhibitor, you can visit the fair buying a visitor ticket or getting a press badge. Visitors can buy a one-day ticket or a permanent trade pass (for all 5 days). The price is lower if you buy the ticket in advance, online.
How to get the accreditation as official Blogger at ITB?
If you are a travel blogger and you want to visit ITB Berlin, you can get accreditation as official Blogger. Your blog must be travel related, at least 6 months old and it must have certain statistics. All the accreditation process starts in November for March next year and the steps are described on ITB’s website.
I applied in November on their website and in days I received the answer, with a code and a link to my press badge. I printed my badge afterwards and enjoyed all the benefits coming from being part of the press team.
What benefits do you have as an official blogger at ITB?
Accreditation as a Blogger comes with different benefits. First, you can enter the fair half an hour before the rest of the public. This way I could take some great pictures with no people in them. Second, you have access to the press room (a room designed for those that bring their laptop with them and need a place to work). You also have access to several events available only for the press. You have a free wardrobe and parking places. And last, but not least, you can apply to Blogger speed dating.
How was ITB Berlin 2019?
In 2019 I visited only the stands I was interested in. I also set up some meetings with the Tourism boards of the regions I had plans to explore. People were open to talking about their region. They gave me a lot of materials and I even closed some agreements. Besides visiting the stands I attended some events (conferences and workshops about travel themes).
I created a profile online, on their Virtual Market platform, contacted the persons I wanted to meet at the fair and sent them a meeting proposal. I had a very tight schedule, but this way I took the best of the fair and had time to enjoy the city. I had a long walk and visited the main attractions in Berlin and one evening I saw the amazing VIVID show at Friedrichstadt Palast.
Blogger speed dating at ITB 2019
After you get your accreditation as official blogger, you can apply to Blogger speed dating. Blogger speed dating is a meeting with companies that are interested in working with bloggers. After your application is approved you have access to a platform where you can see all the companies that will be there.
You can invite on a “date” the ones you want to work with or you can receive invitations from them. Once they say yes to your invitation or you accept theirs, it’s a match! You must have at least 2 dates confirmed to take part at this event. I had 9 dates confirmed, but 2 cancelled in the last minute (they were very polite and sent me a message before).
The event took place in CityCube Berlin. I had to register before it and after that, I entered the big room. Each company has a standing table and the bloggers move from one table to another, according to the meetings they planned. I used the time before the start to locate the tables for my meeting. We had 8 minutes to discuss and 2 minutes to find the next table and a gong let us know when we should start or move forward.
I took a bottle of water (we had water and snacks at the entrance) because I spoke a lot and I needed to drink water from time to time. I prepared an introduction phrase (who am I, what is my blog about etc), I offered them my biggest smile and we started to discuss. I tried to focus on what I can offer them and why is my blog special.
I met people that actually want to work with bloggers and some of them even had projects on their minds. They didn’t ask for my media kit, but I sent them as a follow-up. At the end of the event, I was exhausted but happy with how things worked out. In August I will have the first project with a person I met at ITB Blogger speed dating, so now I get to see the results of my meetings.
For my activity as a travel blogger, it is not mandatory to participate at ITB Berlin. For my professional development, it was a plus. I met people from different countries, I saw what is important for them and I learned how to “sell” my blog better. And I saw again how important human contact is, especially in the travel business!