March 17, 2021

The success story explained

David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin NOW, looks back at the 2021 edition of the show

The highest expectations of the organisers have been fulfilled, with excellent results for all aspects of ITB Berlin NOW 2021. We asked David Ruetz to tell us more.

During the five-day event, 65,716 users visited the online platform, of whom around two-thirds (64.5%) came from abroad. As far as our exhibitors go, there were 3,513 companies and organisations from around 120 countries, plus 1,050 media representatives and bloggers who covered ITB Berlin NOW. The ITB Berlin NOW events were also very well received with a total of 265 hours of event programme and around 52,600 participants. Some 700 speakers took part in more than 400 discussion rounds at the convention, held lectures, interviews and exhibitor presentations and press conferences.

ITB Berlin NOW is not over yet: Until 31 May 2021 the content and many other functions remain online

What has the feedback been like?
The feedback from users is extremely positive. After a year of bad news, around the world, the industry expressed a heartfelt desire to get together again at a show. The response was excellent from both exhibitors and users. They made good use of our digital smart-matching tools to find and maintain contacts. These included the Discovery Graph, a tool for suggesting potentially relevant contacts, and our Lead Finder, which brings buyers and sellers together with products of common interest. However, ITB Berlin NOW is not over yet: Until 31 May 2021 the content and many other functions remain online, so participants can find important information and contacts, network with each other, evaluate their results and access programme items. For those who could not take part during the live event phase, there is the possibility to purchase an after-event ticket for 29 euros.

Tell us a little bit about the build-up to this event and the work that was required.
The workload for the digital trade show was actually “the same but also different” compared to an in-person event. As a team, we naturally faced completely new challenges organising a virtual show for the first time, especially during a pandemic when most of our team had to work from home. We missed the direct, personal exchange before the event, which would have made communication often faster or easier. Logistics included two streaming video studios, a Corona Test Centre in the CityCube, and more than 300 employees – from cleaning and security to the Corona Test Team from the German Red Cross and the technical crew to the trade show management. They all contributed to the success of ITB Berlin NOW. One thing that was really helpful was that having organised the smaller We Love Travel! event together with the Berlin Travel Festival last autumn, we had already completed a sort of test run several months earlier. Thus, the live studio set-up in Berlin was not new to us – nor were the broadcasts. The test run was therefore invaluable for our team and for working together with the technical service provider.

What can we expect next year?
Ultimately, the team at ITB Berlin would like to welcome visitors in large numbers again on the exhibition grounds. In conversations over the last few days, what I clearly heard was that the industry is deeply longing to meet and talk again in person. I am therefore looking forward all the more to a live event in Berlin in 2022 that will combine the best elements of an in-person and virtual show.


  • 5 days – length of event
  • 65,716 people visited the online platform
  • 64.5% of visitors came from abroad
  • 3,513 exhibiting companies and organisations
  • 120 countries participating
  • 1,050 media representatives and bloggers
  • 700 speakers @ ITB Berlin NOW Convention
  • 265 hours of conferences