With about five weeks to go for this year’s ITB Asia, we had a chance to catchup with Katrina Leung, Executive Director at Messe Berlin (Singapore), the organisers of ITB Asia. Excerpts from our exclusive conversation with Katrina on what lies in store.
TravHQ: ITB Asia continues to be ASIA’s leading B2B travel-trade over the years. What’s the reason for this unparalleled success?
Katrina Leung: ITB Asia has become the primary event for the Asia Pacific travel space. It is an industry think tank that has become a premier meeting place for all those in the travel industry chain to build business connections – from tour operators, hotels, destinations, airlines right through to booking engine companies. Last year alone, we connected almost 10,300 attendees from 108 countries.
Our success is attributed to always being able to bring fresh and new content to our delegates. Each year, attendees look forward to listening to the latest trending topics in the industry which empowers them make the best decision for their businesses. In a world where content is king, we’ve been able to deliver 4,710 minutes of high powered content from movers and shakers internationally.
We are constantly innovating and changing the way we bring ITB Asia to delegates from around the world. In our 9th year, we have now extended our keynote address across three days and introduced new sessions such as our inaugural MICE Day.
Our strong relationships with partners and exhibitors has also contributed to our continual success. We consistently engage with our exhibitors to obtain their feedback and maintain high standards, as well as ensure the quality of buyers. This year, our partnership with Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) will also pave the way for our delegates to drive additional MICE activities to the country.
TravHQ: In a nutshell, what lies in store for the travel-trade industry at this year’s ITB Asia 2016?
Katrina Leung: We have lined up an exciting array of conferences and sessions for our delegates, introducing our daily keynote sessions which will focus on the growing online travel sector. The show will kick-off featuring speakers from Google and Priceline sharing their thoughts about the impact of digitalisation and the importance of utilising tools in the most efficient way to fulfil their business needs. On Day 2, our keynote session sponsored by MasterCard will also feature top Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) including Expedia, Agoda, Zuji and Ctrip. Prominent Chinese corporations like Yiqifei Travel, Tuniu Corporation, Dida Travel Technology and Shanghai Jin Jiang International will be speaking on Day 3.
Taking into account recent trends, our esteemed partner CrescentRating, the world’s leading authority on halal travel, will also address opportunities and best practices to tap on the growing Muslim community through workshops and discussions. We will also hold our first-ever full day Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) conference featuring informative workshops and dialogue sessions delving into the latest developments in incentive travel and events.
On the exhibition show floor, delegates can also look out for our expanded Travel and Technology Showcase featuring presentations by SiteMinder, Revinate, Easybook and more. Speakers will touch on the latest technological advancements and trends, as well as how technology is playing a key role in changing customer experience. In addition, attendees can expect a new segment focusing on destinations featuring various National Tourism Organisations sharing about destinations including Austria, India and Thailand.
TravHQ: India and China are the most prominent nations among exhibiting countries. How has India’s participation changed over the years?
Katrina Leung: We have seen the number of exhibitors from India and China grow from year to year. Today, they represent a significant percentage of our exhibitors, and we expect this sizeable number to increase in the coming years. Exhibitors across all spectrums of the travel industry, from tourism organisations to even software companies, see us as a platform to learn more about the Asian travel market and also as a partner who helps them open their doors to the global travel players.
We are very appreciative of their support through the years and are most delighted to welcome new states and exhibitors this year including Tamilnadu Tourism Government of Tamilnadu, Odisha Tourism, Madhya Pradesh Tourism, Kerala Tourism and more.
TravHQ: Travel-technology has emerged as a strong segment over the years in ITB Asia. Which companies and travel startups are expected to showcase their offerings in this year’s edition?
Katrina Leung: Delegates to this year’s show can look out for our Travel Technology Showcase, which is double the size of last year’s showcase. It will feature exhibitors who will address the practice of creating better customer experiences through technology, and we have already confirmed key exhibitors including Oracle, TripAdvisor, Peakwork, Revinate, Expedia, SiteMinder and more this year.
TravHQ: At ITB Asia, you have been a witness to some game-changing travel industry innovations. If you had to pick one, what would that be?
Katrina Leung: In just two short years with ITB Asia, I have had the chance to see a wide range of exhibitors who have showcased their offerings on the show floor and see first-hand how the show facilitates optimal face-to-face interactions. One of the most memorable innovations I have come across includes robots taking on the role of a bellboy and housekeeper in hotels. With the advancement of technology, robots are now able to assist the travel industry in combating issues such as manpower challenges while maintaining high service standards.
About Katrina Leung
Appointed in November 2014, Katrina Leung is the Executive Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore), the organisers of ITB Asia, the ‘Trade Show for the Asian Travel Market’. In this role, she is responsible for spearheading ITB Asia and developing Messe Berlin’s business in Asia. Prior to this, Leung was Country Managing Director of conference organiser, Terrapinn Asia where she was in charge of a broad range of industries including capital markets and finance, biomedical, power and electricity, enterprise technology, transport and logistics and real estate. Leung holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a minor in International Business from Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines where she was a university scholar.