The world’s largest annual travel trade show, ITB Berlin was one of the first exhibition casualties of the coronavirus outbreak this March.
The event, which launched in 1966, brings together decision-makers, experts, buyers and professionals from across the travel industry. It prides itself on helping their attendees “build up the strongest business and customer relations through face-to-face”.
Known for being one of the central dates for the global tourism calendar, ITB Berlin is for many much more than the four-day event with business meetings taking place ahead of the show opening. Connecting buyers and suppliers is paramount for organisers, Messe Berlin, who had already appointed award-winning event tech supplier Grip and its intelligent event matchmaking software platform to help attendees meet and do business during their event.
In excess of 130,000 people were scheduled to arrive in Berlin for the event which was thrown into doubt and then cancelled fully after the first cases of COVID-19 in the German capital were announced.
But with the imminent challenges facing the travel industry in the wake of the virus, Messe Berlin knew that now, more than ever, it was vital to connect the industry despite not being able to meet face-to-face.
In the space of two days, Grip had adapted its platform to allow event attendees to still hold meetings despite the event cancellation.
Firstly, to support those who had already travelled to the city in anticipation of the event, Grip modified its technology to include varying locations, allowing attendees to meet with their colleagues, selecting alternative locations around the city.
And for those who we unable to travel to the event in person, meetings were still able to take place via a new integrated virtual meeting room technology with the Grip software platform. The new offering gave attendees the opportunity to hold the pre-event scheduled meetings virtually allowing colleagues to meet and do business.
Around 300-500 virtual meetings took place after the cancellation of ITB Berlin and across the Grip platform throughout March.
Tim Groot, CEO, Grip said: “The travel and events industry are incredibly robust and resilient and ITB Berlin was a unique opportunity for us to demonstrate how technology can play its part in helping individuals come together and supporting their industries.
“At Grip, our mission is to bring the business world together through AI-powered interactions and now more than ever, it is vital for technology to empower organisers and attendees to continue.
“I’m incredibly proud of the Grip team for pulling together in such a short period of time. We look forward to continuing to offer this service, along with our already very well-established platform in the future.”