Back in the inbound heyday, about 15 years ago before the industry in Europe consolidated into four main travel companies, ITB was the show to find new operators and agents needing help building product to North America. As we walked the around Brand USA pavilion at this year’s show, it became clear that the way suppliers and destinations approach the market has evolved in different ways depending on the size of one’s budget.
The primary destinations—California, New York, Florida and Las Vegas—all had large branded booths populated by individual suppliers seated on stools behind a counter set up in a ring around the perimeter where they could meet with walk-ups and meet with appointments at conference tables set up in the center of the booth. Those that were not able to use a German rep to arrange appointments had a great deal of idle time.
Meanwhile, second-tier destinations such as Utah, Colorado, the Great Lakes Region and the Deep South, seemed to employ a more collaborative model, where in-country reps arrange appointments with a smaller number of qualified buyers many of who were USA specialists and media–who met with teams of 6-10 DMO’s and suppliers to update their itineraries and brainstorm new promotional ideas.
Trade Traffic in the USA pavilion was strong the first two days of the show, dropping off precipitously the third day, especially in the afternoon. Overall, we heard mostly positive remarks about the show.