More customisation, more technology, more opportunities: a true relaunch can only happen if we open ourselves up to discussion and embrace new solutions. For this reason, the International Travel Exhibition expands on its content and services to support firms in the sector as they journey towards the “new normality”.
The tourism market looks to relaunch, with various measures gradually allowing the travel sector to prepare for a partial recovery following a lack of activity in recent months, while incentives present consumers with new opportunities. To solidify the relaunch, the sector nevertheless requires a new level of awareness and a context in which to develop new solutions.
BIT International Travel Exhibition organised by Fiera Milano and scheduled to run from 7 to 9 February 2021 at Fieramilanocity thus starts the countdown to its next edition, positioning itself as a platform for discussion, so important for the sector during this delicate phase. A vehicle with which to recount and promote tourism during the post COVID-19 period, the exhibition considers the values that make up the offer as the world continues to seek its “new normality”. Responsibility, clarity, transparency, and sensitivity to the various needs are all top priorities for operators, working to re-educate users so that they can trust in travel and holiday professionals.
BIT is the Italian event of reference for international markets, the only exhibition that allows for the innovative development of relationships and business, the sharing of new knowledge, and change inspired by a focus on both the B2B and B2C. This allows operators in the tourism sector to not only network and develop new opportunities in a setting well suited to negotiation and business, but to communicate with the end traveller in specific spaces and at specific times, so as to anticipate consumer trends, develop relationships and products in line with consumer needs, and create new alliances between those that organise travel and those that partake in it.
THE MARKET SCENARIO: CAUTIOUS BUT KEEN TO RESTART
The centrality of Italy within the international tourism system is emphasised with positive endorsement from the UNWTO and its Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, who recently met with representatives from some of our institutions in Italy. The country serves as a pillar for the protection of sustainable tourism and innovation, key criteria for the development of global tourism according to the World Tourism Organisation.
Meanwhile, tour operators are experiencing a gradual but clear recovery. As for Italy, the outlook for the summer period is encouraging, with operators noting that tourists are demonstrating a general desire to start travelling again. According to a recent Codacons study, 51% of Italian citizens will take a holiday during the June-September period, equating to around 30 million Italians, although numbers are expected to be roughly 23% down on 2019.
Post-COVID-19 bookings largely relate to Italy itself (equating to 80% of bookings according to Codacons), but there is also some long-range travel planned for the upcoming winter season.
While the latest ENIT data reveals that cities of art still appeared to be suffering from a lack of foreign tourists (particularly from China and the USA) during the first part of summer, four in ten hotel rooms have been booked on-line, by Italian and foreign tourists, with 62% still available for booking. Italy is also at the centre of attention on social channels. According to ENIT, from 18 March to 28 June, Italy received a total of 837,200 mentions - 68,300 of which on the internet and 768,900 on social media - which produced 227.1 million interactions for a total investment value (AVE) of 661.8 million Euro.
BIT AREAS: EXPLORING THE SECTOR
Sensitive to the current changes, BIT is modelling the areas making up the exhibition based on today’s needs.
In particular, BIT Experience, the themed area dedicated to new travel experiences relating to nature, slow tourism, food and drink tourism, and all forms of tourism launching in 2021, can serve as a relaunch opportunity for all those hospitality structures, regions and operators, both national and international, that have been worst hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
Wedding area, the space dedicated to the best ceremony locations as well as the most intriguing honeymoon trips, will give visibility to a new reception culture and the attention and skill with which events are organised with respect to pre-virus provisions, focusing on the relaunch of a sector that is very interesting and rich in opportunity for trade visitors.
In 2021, the MICE village, a space born out of the need to reconcile supply and demand in the events world, will also place greater emphasis on the relaunch of this sector, so gravely affected by the global situation.
With the current emphasis on technologies to aid work and socially distanced experiences, the Btech and Start Up Areas will allow visitors to explore new technological resources in support of industry and young, dynamic companies that present their innovative products each and every year.
The change that is taking place necessitates tools that can help drive the labour market in the tourism sector. For this reason, the Bit 4 job Area will act as a hub that focuses on opportunities offered by leading firms in the sector as they seek out professional figures, highlighting skills that remain indispensable but also looking at new professions, such as project manager, cost analyst or performance manager, profiles that are increasingly strategic today.
CONFERENCES: A JOURNEY THROUGH PROFESSIONAL UPDATING AND PROPOSALS FOR THE TRAVELLER
Further insight into the sector comes in the form of conferences and meetings dedicated to operators that will take place during the exhibition and cover a range of key themes in the tourism world.
There will be particular focus on travel as an experience, both in terms of the traveller’s habits and the offer, with proposals relating to adventure tourism, food and drink, slow tourism and other emerging trends.
As always, the exhibition takes in international destinations, with analysis relating to best practices, relations between destinations and local operators, and the evolution of tour operators’ international offer, but also Italian destinations, focusing attention on the relaunch of our country and the promotion of Italian regions across the world, as well as on the way international tourists’ needs are changing and how this alters our tourism offer.
Among the various tourism segments, space will be made for congressional and business tourism, from opportunities to critical areas, new models and important trends.
Dedicated sessions will tackle the subject of transport, with analysis of the supply and demand in air transportation, past and future, and the relationship between airports and local development, as well as an overview of new trends and proposals in the cruising world.
There will also be a focus on hospitality, from disintermediation to relations with on-line travel agencies, to understand how customer services are changing and what the emerging models in this segment look like.
Sustainability, multi-channel services and technology are just some of the challenges the sector has been tackling in recent years, all of which will be further explored at BIT.
Sustainability and a circular economy will therefore be key when considering destination development models and the relationship today’s citizen has with the local area, allowing operators to understand how this value is altering the tourist’s sensitivity and the offer available to them.
Technological innovation will be analysed with a look at the future of on-line channels in relation to the physical world, with particular focus on the evolution of scenarios with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, which make the meeting of supply and demand increasingly global, for a customised travel experience.
In addition to sustainability and technology, multi-channel distribution of the tourism product will also be examined, with a look at the development of on-line channels, models and emerging relationships and the outlook for an increasingly sustainable approach to tourism distribution.
Alongside events dedicated to professionals are experiences and initiatives aimed at travellers, covering everything from discovery and inspiration to sustainability and safety so as to engage the audience and present opportunities and solutions to suit every need.
Experienced travellers, international tourist boards, regions, tour operators, travel agencies and flight and cruise companies will all communicate directly with the final customer, outlining new places and experiences on Sunday 9 February, the day BIT dedicates to non-specialist audiences.
BEYOND THE EXHIBITION: THE PHYGITAL SIDE TO BIT
At a time of real discontinuity with the past, firms are working to develop innovation in the technological field and new approaches to tourism, both organised and disintermediate.
Technology plays a leading role and will change the way users harness much of the BIT 2021 content, for an innovative experience that is both physical and digital and that reaps the benefits of the phygital in order to offer wider and more personalised business opportunities and effectively promote the training and promotional content presented at the exhibition.
In some cases, conferences will be live streamed so as to significantly increase user engagement. An important new feature in this regard is the Fiera Milano Platform for the management of customers, exhibitors, visitors, journalists, bloggers and opinion leaders, which will allow users to access services provided by the exhibition quickly and easily, facilitating physical and digital interaction between actors in the supply chain.
In addition, just as tourism operators are working to deal with the needs of somewhat disheartened users, Fiera Milano is moving to guarantee exhibitors concrete support during the events it organises, offering companies the possibility to receive financing for their participation in the exhibition, thanks to an important agreement made between the Group and five key banking groups.
COVID-19 kept us at home and now tourism operators are tasked with getting us on the move once more, all within a framework that provides greater assurances as to the risks of global movement.
What is now essential in the tourism sector is the ability to plan every phase of a holiday safely, without denying the users that beauty of discovery that every trip should involve.
As the journey resumes, BIT is all set to open the channels of communication with operators keen to innovate, as they take on the challenge of a season that looked to be over before it had begun but that can instead mark a real opportunity for relaunch, also for tourism.
Analysis of the hottest and most important topics that will continue in the run up to the next edition of the International Travel Exhibition, at fieramilanocity from 7 to 9 February 2021.