The ITB 2017 Experience
Another successful year at ITB has come and gone for AIANTA and our tribal delegation.
Each year, AIANTA has the opportunity to attend the world’s leading travel tradeshow, along with a delegation of tribes and native businesses with successful tourism programs. There is no better place to learn from and build an understanding of the travelers and the industry’s interests, desires, and most importantly – challenges.
At the AIANTA pavilion this year, a number of regions, tribes and businesses were represented from around the country, helping to give the international visitors a more clear understanding of the diversity of Indian Country throughout the United States.
Participants exhibiting with AIANTA at ITB 2017 included: Chickasaw Country; The Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers; Monument Valley Simpson’s Trailhandler Tours; Cherokee Nation and the Suquamish Tribal Museum and Cultural Center.
“Attending ITB was a wonderful opportunity for our museum to promote tribal tourism in the Pacific Northwest and to learn about international marketing strategies,” said Lydia Sigo, Curator and Archivist at the Suquamish Museum. “AIANTA provided the advice and guidance needed to make our trip to ITB a success.”
“Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipemakers had a great week at ITB Berlin with AIANTA,” said Bud Johnston, President of the Pipestone Minnesota organization. “AIANTA did a great job promoting Tribal tourism, and we got business cards from 43 new writers and business travel groups– even with TXL Airport closing for the weekend of the show. Our tribal dance and traditional regalia were a big draw for attendees at the show.” (Mr. Johnston is referring to an employee strike that occurred at the Berlin Airport during the final weekend of ITB, causing many participants to change their schedules.)
AIANTA debuted the American Indians and Route 66 guidebook and accompanying website at this year’s tradeshow, showcasing a full wall graphic of the guidebook, map and inspiring images from Native America along the famous highway.
The guidebook generated great excitement, with tour operators and members of the press alike eager to have an itinerary idea, focused on Native experiences and looking at the authentic story of a major U.S. tourist attraction.
With 10,000 exhibitors, 28,000 convention visitors and 100,000 trade visitors at ITB, the AIANTA team had the chance to speak with a variety of contacts from all sectors of the tourism industry, namely tour operators, media and consumers.
In our meetings during the show, we found several recurring themes from our different contacts.
The Media: Looking for something unique and off the beaten path
Time and time again, we hear members of the press – from TV reporters to newspaper journalists, to bloggers, feature writers and everyone in between – that they are looking for stories that highlight different, unique destinations and products that can offer an authentic experience. When working with the media, think about what makes you and your business stand out from the masses in the industry. Location, people and history are great places to start when crafting a pitch to the press.
Tour Operators: Looking for consistent, quality product
With such a strong interest in Indian Country and cultural tourism from the consumer, tour operators are increasingly looking for ways to include Native destinations in their existing tours as well as in new/developing tours. In order to incorporate new destinations in their offerings, European and domestic tour operators must ensure that they can rely on a consistent, quality product. As tour operators typically plan and book two years in advance, this is a useful and important piece of information for businesses, destinations, and tourism products here in the U.S. With beautiful landscapes, cultural tours and true authentic experiences, Indian Country has no problem providing a quality product. To ensure consistency, it is important to look to the future while drawing up contracts, working with partners and in collaborations, and in your plans for tourism development.
Consumers: Showing a combination of excitement and hesitation
With a lot of news coming out about travel to the United States and unknown changes and potential challenges in the midst of a changing political climate, consumers expressed some feelings of hesitation in traveling abroad – a new sentiment to our meetings in comparison to years past. Consumers are still as eager as ever to visit the United States, see our beautiful landscapes and meet new people. It is crucial for us in the tourism industry to continue to market our destinations abroad and let international travelers know that we welcome visitors and encourage travelers to come learn about the authentic cultures of the United States. Tourism is our country’s number one service export, and tribes are increasingly taking advantage of the trends to build travel destinations that attract millions of visitors each year. Interest by overseas travelers in Indian Country has increased in the last six years and even set records in the last four. Let’s keep that growth going by continuing our presence in the international marketplace!
Read more about the German travel market and Germany’s interest in Indian Country in our previous post here.