Curiosity at the Heart of Demand

Dr Martin Buck, Vice President of Competence Centre Travel & Logistics Messe Berlin GmbH, on ITB China 2018

Looking back at the 2018 edition of ITB China, what have emerged as being the key elements of motivation for travellers from this part of the world? We put the question to Dr Martin Buck.


The curiosity of the Chinese traveller is very important, and it is a great trigger for travel. This was already activated in a way here at the show by another innovation that David Axiotis (eds. General Manager, ITB China) introduced this year, which is our co-operation with a company called Qyer. Qyer, together with ITB China, invented the “It’s My World Travel Awards”. This is about incentivising people and products that are important when it comes to usergenerated content. Qyer is basically a user generated content platform with more than 88-million registered users. They distributed 50 awards for the most innovative traveller, the best travel product, and so on, and the room was packed. It was also really a partnership; not only about having Qyer as an exhibitor and us being the venue provider, but it’s a partnership, because they know perfectly well that we are the access to the products and they are the access to the demand so everything comes together very well, and we obviously are a very good platform to reflect it which is the reason for happiness.

Anything particularly interesting that stood out for you this year?

Event wise, what I found very spectacular was the big screen – the big backdrop – that we had at the opening ceremony, because this for me epitomises our capability to do a very impressive marketing activity embracing the local specifics, creating a “wow” effect, and I have to admit I’ve never seen something like this since I’ve been working for ITB. Another thing that impressed me was the presentation by the Chairman of Ctrip, James Liang. I asked the question how come China has a negative trade balance when it comes to incoming tourists to China versus outgoing tourists from China, comparing this balance with the US, UK or Turkey or even India. I asked what might be the reasons for this and what we might be able to do to change the situation. It was impressive how he represented the problem and how he explained the possible solutions, which shows the competence and expertise and the power a company like Ctrip has. So, having seen the presentation, you do not wonder why the company that was founded only in 1999 now has more than 10,000 employees and a market cap that is five times higher than the market cap of TUI in Germany. It shows that it’s not only about the size, it’s also about intelligence, and this guy walking around in sneakers and blue jeans shows you within five minutes what’s going on. This is a brilliant guy, and I have the feeling he’s not the only brilliant guy here at the show. You could say it’s our privilege coming from a country like Germany, just seeing how things are being developed in a new market like China.

So, it’s the cultural and business exchange… It’s an exchange not just one way?

No, exactly, it’s an exchange. It’s going in both directions, and I find it emotionally really very touching being a part of that process. I don’t want to compare it with the launch of the Saturn 5 rocket flying to the moon, but it goes in that direction. It also shows how humble we have to be compared to such a company. It seems evident that the Chinese are always eager to learn, and perhaps it would be good for us also to be more eager to learn in general. That’s also one of the secrets of why this show is going so well so far; because we are eager to learn. Both sides have to contribute something. We are very excited, and we are very happy, and we are looking very optimistically into the future here in China and indeed around the world.

Photo: Dr Martin Buck – Senior Vice President, Competence Centre Travel & Logistics, Messe Berlin GmbH

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