GTM 2017: view from the trade floor

GTM 2017: view from the trade floor

Germany Travel Mart came to a close for another year last Wednesday, with suppliers, exhibitors, and guests from more than 50 countries making their way home after a whirlwind few days in Nuremberg.

For the travel trade, the focal point of this year’s GTM was the NürnbergMesse trade fair centre, which provided the setting for buyers to liaise with German exhibitors and seek new products to complement their tours and offerings. The consensus of the Canadian travel trade present was that it was an event well worth attending.

“It was certainly worthwhile,” confirmed Dana Toma, director of product (Europe) & Global DMC Services, Kensington Tours. “I learned a lot of new information about the destination. There are particular areas and themes that we would like to develop further within Germany; therefore, my meetings were planned based on the company needs. I would say that the meetings were very useful.”

“We started to sell Europe about three years ago, and added Germany tours to our products just a few months ago,” Azi Shahidi, product and marketing manager, Indus Travel, told PAX. “This was the best opportunity for me to have access to a maximum of DMCs, hotels, tourism boards and coach companies at the same time.”

The trade show floor at NürnbergMesse trade fair centre, where exhibitors met with buyers to showcase their products.

Part of what impressed many members of the travel trade present were the preparations that the country is already making to promote its range of events and experiences scheduled to take place in the coming years.

Strong attention, for instance, is being focused on the 2018 Bavarian State Exhibition, while preparations are already underfoot for the Oberammergau Passion Play – a staging of Jesus’ passion by the inhabitants of the small Bavarian village of Oberammergau.

It won’t take place until 2020, but the efforts already underway to market the play – which is only staged every 10 years – provided a useful opportunity for the Canadian trade to plan ahead and possibly include the event in future offerings. Not only that – they also got the chance to discover products that they wouldn’t otherwise have found in Canada.

“I was looking for product in areas we don’t currently offer,” commented Toma. “When [your customers] want to come back to Germany for the sixth time, you definitely need a different product; They don’t necessarily need to see again the highlights of the big cities, but explore the hidden places, the smaller cities and towns, the not so known places in Germany. We would like be able to tell customers what they could do in those areas.”

Other members of the trade present said that the convention’s pre-tours and trade show offered an invaluable opportunity to develop new contacts and liaise with local tourist boards; it also revealed new trends that are developing in German travel, such as the burgeoning popularity of the country for car enthusiasts – illustrated by its wide variety of automobile and car museums.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the pre-convention tour and GTM itself,” commented Claudia Schwenger of Trufflepig Travel, Inc. “It presented a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world, with different backgrounds and agendas, but one ultimate goal: to learn more about Germany and meet local partners.”

While the schedule was tightly-regimented, and meetings were arranged before arrival in Germany, the expansive trade floor also allowed trade members to meet with exhibitors they hadn’t had a chance to schedule interviews with.

“I had more than 15 appointments set for each day,” said Shahidi. “I met everyone, and also got to meet more companies than I expected, as I found new interest in companies that I was not aware of before being at the event.”

As far as opportunities for new products go, this year’s GTM was replete with new offerings and possibilities. For instance, Jens Huwald, CEO, Bavaria Tourism, highlighted a range of unique experiences that could be offered in the state, including a beer brewing class, ‘Dirndl’ sewing lessons, and a white sausage academy, featuring accompanied cooking and tasting.

Given the range of authentic experiences on offer, and GNTO Director – Canada Antje Splettstoesser’s assertion that fully 32 per cent of Canadian direct travel to Germany is booked through a travel agent, the importance of the travel trade to Canada-Germany tourism remains clear.

The GTM’s usefulness to the trade members present, too, was evident, with many already looking ahead to the 2018 convention in Dresden. “I would certainly recommend the event,” said Schwenger, “and am looking forward to attending future GTMs.”