Katrina Leung, Executive Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore)
“India is a key growth market”
As the ninth edition of ITB Asia, one of the most highly talked about travel trade events in Asia awaits a curtain raiser, Katrina Leung, the Executive Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore), the organisers of ITB Asia has a candid conversation with Media India Group.
How is ITB Asia shaping up? Would you like to share some of the exciting features that participants will witness this year?
Katrina Leung: We are very excited to present the ninth installation of ITB Asia, ‘Asia’s Leading Travel Trade Show’. We are a platform that brings together three key segments of the travel industry – leisure, MICE, corporate companies and travel technology, and preparations are well underway for this year’s show. This year, we return with new collaborations with industry heavy weights including the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), Crescent Rating, Travel Massive, Singapore Outbound Travel Agents Association (SOTAA), Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) and many more.
ITB Asia 2016 will kick off with speakers from Google and Facebook at our opening keynote panel. For the first time ever, our keynote sessions will also be running across all three days of the show. The second day’s keynote, held in partnership with MasterCard, will present a panel of experts from Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), featuring representatives from Expedia and Agoda. Expect to see keynote speakers from prominent Chinese corporations including Ctrip, Tuniu and Yiqifeion on day three.
Another conference highlight this year is our inaugural MICE day- a full day programme with representatives from leading companies such as Amway China and Oracle Corporation. They will be looking to share the latest news and innovations in the sector.
We will also hold our first “Halal in Travel – Asia Summit 2016” conference and various workshops, in partnership with Crescent Rating, the world’s leading authority on halal travel. Delegates attending event can expect to gain in-depth insights on how to strengthen their position in the halal tourism industry.
How important is the Indian market for ITB Asia?
Katrina Leung: India is a key growth market, and over the years we have received strong support from Indian exhibitors and partners from all segments of the travel industry. We will be welcoming new organisations from Tamil Nadu Tourism Government of Tamil Nadu and Odisha Tourism as well as returning companies such as India Tourism and IBS Software, whom we are very appreciative of for their ongoing support. We are also expecting growing interest from not only our Indian buyer contingent, but also from our host of international delegates who continue to be drawn to the dynamic business possibilities emerging from India’s tourism market; those who want to learn more and build meaningful business connections at ITB Asia.
Would you like to share your ideas about the potential of India emerging as a promising MICE destination?
Katrina Leung: With India’s economy projected to grow by 7.3 pc this year, according to the UN’s World Economic Situation and Prospect report , there is huge potential for India’s travel industry, and in particular their MICE sector.
To shine a spotlight on potential opportunities and key trends in this fast growing sector, we will hold a dedicated MICE Day this year to help bring our delegates up to speed on the latest happenings. Together with our esteemed partners including SITE, SACEOS and Incentive Conference & Event Society Asia Pacific (ICESAP), this year’s programme will see in-depth and insightful conferences tailored towards understanding the needs of MICE customers, including sessions on incentive travel programme management as well as a co-located workshop helping to build capabilities among delegates.
ITB Asia focuses a lot on innovation and travel technology. Would you like to share the highlight of this year’s travel innovation?
Katrina Leung: Each year, with our delegates in mind, we plan our conference programme around the latest trending topics in the travel industry. This year’s edition focuses on the theme of creating a better customer experience through innovation and technology. Movers and shakers from the travel industry such as Facebook and Google will share what this means to them in the opening keynote, highlighting the significance of travel technology in the industry, spotlighting trends on mobile technology and the impact of mobile on the travel industry. This is in addition to the keynote sessions that will run across all three days helmed by speakers from Expedia, Agoda, Ctrip, Tuniu and Yiqifei. Delegates can also visit the Travel and Technology showcase within the exhibition hall which will feature speakers from Revinate, SiteMinder, Peakwork AG and more. Speakers will share the latest technological advancements and trends, as well as how it plays a key role in changing customer experiences.
The new era of business travelling – would you like to describe your plans for the event to showcase new ideas in sector?
Katrina Leung: With the growing focus on Muslim travel as a whole and the increasing number of Muslim business travellers, our partnership with Crescent Rating will shed light on the challenges and opportunities in this evolving sector.
Given the international nature of business travel, it is particularly vulnerable to changing political, economic and health conditions. We recognise the importance of equipping our delegates with the necessary information as part of our trade show’s core programme. This year we’ve partnered with leading medical and travel security services firm- International SOS to deliver just that. Leveraging on its in-market expertise, International SOS will hold workshops to help delegates understand the risk exposure for business travellers during medical and security incidents and the positive financial impact of preparedness. The workshops will also touch on how to mitigate emergency events through risk management as well as how organisations can help fulfil their duty of care to travellers through risk identification.
Would you like to add a few words about our new media partnership and express your future plans to initiate further collaborations?
Katrina Leung: We are very glad to have Media India Group (MIG) on board with us this year. Our partnership will result in a dedicated publication for this year’s show as well as a special edition of India&You magazine, where delegates can learn more about the opportunities that the Indian market has to offer here at ITB Asia.