Select Page

ITB berlinEarlier this month, WYSE Travel Confederation proudly championed the youth, student and educational travel industry at ITB Berlin 2015.

While our stand in the youth hall played host to a range of informative workshops, a networking event, and a number of members who co-exhibited with us, we also took to the stage with two panel discussions.

Thank you to everyone who took part in our activities at ITB Berlin this year. Here’s a summary of our event experience:

Wednesday, 4 March

We began with an overview of WYSE Travel Confederation’s new Chinese Millennial report in a presentation by Professor Greg Richards, who explained that 97% of Chinese millennial travellers prefer to travel independently rather than in tour groups. 84% enjoy staying in hostels, but when doing so their main concerns were safety, lack of personal space, hygiene, and comfort.

We were then joined by Colm Hanratty of sixtwo digital who educated delegates about the benefits of content and social media, highlighting the importance of creating an open conversation with customers via social media and content that links to commercial pages. This tied in well in with the following workshop, during which Kash Bhattacharya of and Simon Lewis of Travel Concept Solutions shared their impressive marketing and engagement statistics gained throughout their #meetsouthafrica campaign.

Professor Greg Richards, WYSE Travel Confederation - Airbnb and the rise of the sharing economy

Professor Greg Richards, WYSE Travel Confederation – Airbnb and the rise of the sharing economy

Professor Greg Richards took to the stage again in the afternoon to a full audience who were keen to learn more about Airbnb and the sharing economy that has developed within the travel industry over the previous years. It is important to note that youth travellers (aged 16 to 34) are most willing to share their accommodation with other travellers, and 89% of AirBnb users do so in order to ‘live like a local’ according to AirBnb studies.

Colm Hanratty returned for the final session of the day to promote the benefits for brands to working with travel bloggers. He spoke of the importance of brands and bloggers to build genuine, transparent relationships, and also monitor campaigns closely to ensure that both the brand and blogger are producing what was promised.

Thursday, 5 March

Professor Greg Richards began our second day with an overview of WYSE research on festivals and the millennial traveller. Almost 60% of festival travellers are under 25 years old, although the average spend by age was greatest for those festival travellers aged 26 to 29 according to the festival and the millennial traveller report.

With mobile bookings on the rise, Evan Becker of StudentUniverse identified that students rely heavily on well-designed apps in his workshop on The State of Student Travel report from StudentUniverse [link] and Skift. He also identified an increase in Chinese millennial travellers, highlighting the importance of the Chinese millennial traveller report reviewed by Professor Greg Richards on day one.

With the New Horizons report series by WYSE identifying that hostels are used just as frequently as hotels by millennial travellers, Carl Michel, Executive Chairman of Generator Hostels took to the WYSE stand to give the Generator stance on millennial-centric design. His key message was that hostel social areas must be all things to all people, ensuring that there is space for those who want to party as well as space for those who want to relax or work.

Kevin O’Shaughnessy of Indigo Connect joined us to further encourage travel brands to embrace mobile bookings with his wearable technology session, with a live demonstration on how technology such as the ‘smart-watch’ can facilitate fast mobile bookings. 

Our educational programme for Thursday concluded with a stage seminar in the youth travel hall, moderated by David Chapman, our Director General. The Millennial Traveller: Driving growth for destinations panel discussion featured Jenny de Saulles of Fáilte Ireland, Emma Hudson of STA Travel, Domingo Ramon C. Enerio, III of the Tourism Promotions Board Phillipines, and Thulani Nzima of South African Tourism. Click here for an overview of the session.

The WYSE Travel Confederation Networking Reception

The WYSE Travel Confederation Networking Reception

As Thursday drew to a close, we partnered with neighbouring exhibitor Reisenetz and opened up our stands to delegates for our networking event.

Sponsored by South Africa Tourism and Else Globe, the event reached full capacity and gave delegates the opportunity to make new connections and unwind after a long day at ITB Berlin.

Friday, 6 March

We began our third day at ITB Berlin with our second seminar, again moderated by David Chapman. For a summary of the session, entitled ‘From backpack to poshpack: Trends in youth travel accommodation, click here.

Later that morning we were joined by Carrie Herrera Niesen of for a workshop on content marketing for volunteer travel. Carrie identified that all volunteer travel brands should be using social media to attract website traffic, and gave strong direction to creating content for website and social media channels.

Continuing with the theme of content marketing for travel brands, Michael Ball of Traverse Events presented the next workshop of the day, which focused on working with travel bloggers. He acknowledged that building relationships with travel bloggers can take time and that they should be chosen based on how appropriate they are for promoting your brand’s message.

Seminar - From backpack to poshpack: Trends in youth travel accommodation

Seminar – From backpack to poshpack: Trends in youth travel accommodation

Simon Lewis returned to the WYSE stand to discuss trends in travel blogging and video, where he was joined by radio and TV host Tim Pogo. Together they demonstrated – through the use of video – the increase in conversion rates that can be achieved via online video and travel blogging for destinations looking to connect with the millennial traveller.

For our final workshop session of ITB Berlin 2015 we were joined again by Evan Becker of StudentUniverse who spoke about the benefits and how-tos of group travel. He discussed points from terms and conditions (for example, group bookings will usually be dropped if the number of travellers falls under ten) and the myths associated with group travel (ie group travel can get you free flights, whereas free flights are now almost impossible to come by).

View our photo gallery

Click here to view our ITB Berlin photo gallery, and remember to tag yourself and your organisation in the photos on our Facebook page.


We would like to thank our co-exhibitors with who we worked with closely at ITB Berlin to support the global youth travel industry