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The GTM: Germany's Annual Trade FairJune 9, 2008 By: Sharon Hudgins Travel Agent
Travel Agent reports back from Munich
Held in a different city every year, the German Travel Mart (GTM) is the top showcase for Germany’s inbound tourism industry. Organized by the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), this annual tourism trade fair was launched in Frankfurt in 1972 and has grown during the past three-and-a-half decades to become the key sales promotion tool for the German travel industry.
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria exudes storybook romance.
In 2007, the GTM was located in the country’s glitzy capital, Berlin. This year, the GTM (April 27-29) was co-hosted by Munich, the largest metropolis in Bavaria, and nearby Augsburg, the oldest city in that region of Germany.
A showcase at the German Travel Mart.
Most of the events took place in Munich’s modern Olympic Hall, originally built for the 1972 Olympic games. Nearly 370 exhibitors from all over Germany showcased their products and services to more than 670 travel industry representatives from around the world, with a record number of buyers, sellers and international journalists attending. The largest delegation was from the U.S., Germany’s main overseas source market for travel to that country.
The focal point of the GTM was a two-day workshop for travel agents and tour operators, presenting a wide range of travel products and services along with various product seminars designed to give buyers a closer look at specific aspects of tourism in Germany, from hotels and restaurants to land tours, river cruises and specially tailored itineraries.
The picturesque Baden-Baden Park foot bridge.
Approximately one-third of the exhibitors were hotels, ranging from major international chains to smaller, independent establishments. Another third were the official marketing organizations for Germany’s federal states, geographical regions and individual cities. And the remaining exhibitors were travel agents, tour operators and transportation companies offering specific products for inbound tourism.
Attendees of the German Trade Fair had opporunities to network, cultivate associations and get acquainted with products and suppliers.
Purpose of the GTM
The focus of the GTM is to cultivate new business, negotiate contracts and close deals, maintain existing contacts and introduce buyers to products and services available from a variety of suppliers, from major global companies to small and medium-size enterprises operating only in Germany. Additionally, gala activities each evening, sponsored by the host cities, provide an introduction to the history, culture and entertainment available in each of the host cities, as well as opportunities for networking with professionals in many different aspects of the tourist industry.
“At these GTMs, I not only learn about new products, but also see old products and how they’re changing,” said Patda De La Torre, president of Travel Time Services, Inc., in Lakewood Ranch, FL. “I look for new hotels that fit into the category that I want, and I get new ideas about products that I wouldn’t know about unless I attended this trade fair.”
“I look for vendors who have a unique product, such as cell phone rentals or maybe an interesting jewelry-product outlet,” added her daughter, Stephana De La Torre, vice-president of Anthony Travel in Dallas. “And I find the face-to-face response is so much better than e-mail.”
“I talk to people here to learn why I should send my clients to Germany,” said Roberto Angostini of Virtuoso Travel in Dallas. “I also talk to competitors, exchange information with them and get practical ideas for things that are successful.”
The sculpture "Berlin" frames the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
Three-day, post-convention tours also provide opportunities for travel agents and tour operators to visit specific locations in Germany that would be of interest to their clients. The 2008 GTM post-convention tours ranged from “Palaces, Parks, and Gardens” in the Bavarian Alps (one of the major tourist destinations in Germany) to “Art and Architecture of the Bauhaus Movement” in Weimar, Leipzig and Berlin; “The German Glass Route” in Bavaria; “Culinary Germany,” focusing on the foods and wines of the historic Franconian cities of Nürnberg, Bamberg and Würzburg, as well as many of the charming small wine villages in that region; “The Fascination of Water” in northern Germany’s cities of Bremen, Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, Husum and Hamburg; “Active Lifestyle Holidays” of walking and bicycling in the Black Forest; and “Golf, Health, and Fitness” at several spas and golf courses in Bavaria.
For more information about next year’s German Travel Mart in Rostock May 10-12, contact George N. Vella, sales manager North America, German National Tourist Office, at 212-661-4796, [email protected] or by visiting www.cometogermany.com.