ITB Berlin Convention 2024: Program overview of the theme tracks

For better readability, the generic masculine is used in these articles. The designations of persons used in these articles refer to all genders unless otherwise indicated.


ITB Berlin Convention 2024: Program overview of the theme tracks


The time has finally arrived: On March 5th, the ITB Berlin once again opens its doors to the key players of the international travel industry. As in the previous year, they will discuss forward-looking industry topics over three days. This year’s convention is under the motto ‘Pioneer the Transition in Travel & Tourism. Together.’ and covers a wide range of current and forward-looking topics with 17 program theme tracks on four stages. Dr. Markus Heller, Managing Partner at Dr. Fried & Partner and member of the Board of Experts is once again responsible for the program theme tracks Tour Operator & Travel Sales and Carrier & Cruise.

These tracks will be presented on Tuesday, March 5th, on the Blue Stage in Hall 7.1b. For all those unable to attend in person, ITB Berlin offers the opportunity to follow the stage program via live stream. Below, we offer you an insight into the exciting track programs:


10:30 – 10:40 | Tour Operator & Travel Sales Track, Carrier & Cruise Track
Opening and Greeting of the Tour Operator & Travel Sales Track and Carrier & Cruise Track

Dr. Markus Heller, Managing Partner at Dr. Fried & Partner GmbH (Day Moderator)


10:40 – 11:30 | Tour Operator & Travel Sales Track
Future-Oriented Business Models for Tour Operators: Navigating Through Market Changes in the Context of Price and Demand Shifts

The dynamics of the travel market, characterized by rising prices and changing booking volumes, require tour operators to adapt their business models to these market changes. This panel discussion will illuminate current market developments and their impact on the business models of tour operators.

Different business models require different market strategies. At the heart of the discussion is the question of how tour operators can position themselves for the future to be sustainable in the long term. We will explore business models and approaches that enable dealing with complex market conditions and building competitive advantages. The panel discussion will provide insights into proven methods – from digital transformation to increase efficiency, to dynamic product design and specialization, to smart capacity management. At the same time, it promises an exciting discussion about how adaptability and innovative strength can secure lasting success in a rapidly changing market environment.

Roland Gassner, Director Business Development at Travel Data + Analytics (Keynote Speaker & Panelist)
Karl Markgraf, CEO at FTI GROUP (Panelist)
Sabine Jordan-Glaab, CEO at vtours GmbH (Panelist)
Francis Torrilla, CEO at DER Touristik UK (Panelist)
Paul Bixby, CCO at easyJet-holidays (Panelist)
Dr. Markus Heller, Managing Partner at Dr. Fried & Partner GmbH (Moderator)


11:30 – 12:30 | Tour Operator & Travel Sales Track
Distribution Platforms Meet Customer Expectations: One-Stop Shopping vs. Customized Travel Arrangements

Travel needs have continued to evolve after the crisis years, posing challenges for both producers and distributors. The question arises: how can tour operators and online platforms anticipate and meet these diverse expectations? The panel discussion revolves around the balance between the desire for tailor-made, flexible travel experiences and the demand for the convenience of comprehensive package deals. Representatives of the two largest tour operators in Europe and major digital travel platforms will discuss how they intend to optimally respond to these customer wishes and how they align their service offerings. The focus is on understanding customer needs and reflecting on how these influence product development and distribution strategies in the tourism sector. The discussion aims to provide insights into the strategic orientation of travel providers and to explore how they find the balance between individualization and integration in their business models.

Stefan Baumert, CEO at TUI Deutschland GmbH (Keynote Speaker & Panelist)
Mark Tantz, COO at DER Touristik Central Europe GmbH (Panelist)
Jean-Philippe Monod, SVP of Government & Corporate Affairs at Expedia Group (Panelist)
Nadine Stachel, Regional Manager DACH at (Panelist)
Dr. Markus Heller
, Managing Partner at Dr. Fried & Partner GmbH (Moderator)


12:30 – 13:15 | Tour Operator & Travel Sales Track
Industry Initiative Sustainability in Sales – Insights and Potentials (in German only)

Travel sales staff are the main point of contact for end customers when it comes to advising and booking their next trip. However, providing advice on sustainability issues poses a particular challenge, as the wealth of information from numerous travel providers and service providers is almost impossible to keep track of. The inadequate labeling of sustainability information in the booking systems also represents a hurdle. Dr. Fried & Partner is currently discussing further challenges as well as initial solutions in a dialog with the travel industry as part of the industry initiative founded with BWH Hotels, Lufthansa Group and AIDA Cruises. Overall, a lot is happening in the travel industry to improve the transparency of sustainability information and make it easier for end customers to make travel decisions. But what are the specific challenges for travel providers, service providers and travel sales and what potential is there for successful communication between providers, sales and customers?

Carmen Dücker, CEO at BWH Hotels Central Europe GmbH (Panelist)
Tim Fischbach, Senior Director & Head of Touristic Sales Home Markets at Lufthansa Group (Panelist)
Alexander Ewig, SVP Marketing & Sales at AIDA Cruises (Panelist)
Dr. Markus Heller, Managing Partner at Dr. Fried & Partner GmbH (Moderator)


13:15 – 13:30 | Tour Operator & Travel Sales Track
Paths of the German Federal Government for Sustainable Tourism in Europe – Interview with Dieter Janecek, Federal Government Coordinator for Maritime Economy and Tourism (in German only)

The basis for all types of tourism is a healthy environment, attractive destinations and strong tourism companies. In an interview with Dieter Janecek, Dr. Markus Heller, who is also head of the NPZT office, addresses key issues in the industry. He will discuss the role of the German government on the road to sustainable and environmentally conscious tourism in Europe, as well as reflect on the measures initiated by the Federal Ministry of Economics to strengthen tourism in Germany and the outbound tourism-oriented travel industry.

Dieter Janecek, Koordinator der Bundesregierung für Maritime Wirtschaft und Tourismus (Interview guest)
Dr. Markus Heller, Managing Partner at Dr. Fried & Partner GmbH (Interviewer)


14:15 – 15:00 | Carrier & Cruise Track
The Role of Carriers and Destinations in the Context of Balancing Volume and Sustainability

The travel industry faces the challenge of promoting sustainable growth that meets both economic and environmental needs. This panel discussion addresses the complex question of how carriers and destinations, which handle high visitor numbers, can achieve a balance between tourism volume and sustainability. This session offers deep insights into the challenges and opportunities arising from the tension between promoting tourist activities and the responsibility towards the environment. A focus will be placed on exploring innovative strategies that allow for both: welcoming a growing number of travelers while taking responsibility for the environment and local communities.

Susanna Sciacovelli, Deputy Managing DirectoratFundació Mallorca Turisme (Panelist)
Fabian Charbonnier, Promotional Officer – European Market at St. Martin Tourist Office (Panelist)
Sébastien Portes, VP Central Western Europe at Club Méditerranée Deutschland GmbH (Panelist)
Kevin Bubolz, VP & Managing Director Continental Europe, Middle East & Africa at Norwegian Cruise Line (Panelist)
Dr. Markus Heller, Managing Partner at Dr. Fried & Partner GmbH (Moderator)


15:00 – 15:45 | Carrier & Cruise Track
How Airline Technology Shapes the Future of Travel Distribution driven by NDC & ONE Order

NDC (New Distribution Capability) and One Order are currently reshaping the travel distribution by giving providers greater control over their distribution channels and enabling them to differentiate their products and services more effectively in a competitive market. In addition, One Order offers the potential for costs savings, operational efficiencies and better data management capabilities. However, while NDC and One Order promise numerous benefits, especially to airlines, they also come with challenges for the industry, such as disruption to existing distribution channels, implementation costs and dependency on industry adoption. If key stakeholders do not fully embrace the new standards, the potential benefits might not be fully realized. But which benefits do the initiatives offer for the rest of the industry and why is a transition recommended?

Heinrich Lange, Vice President Digital Retailing at Lufthansa Group (Keynote Speaker & Panelist)
Nadia Azale, NDC Change Management Director at AirFrance-KLM Group (Panelist)
Chris Ramm, Vice President Global Enterprise Airline Partners at Travelport (Panelist)
Charles Tandonnet, VP Growth Program at Travelsoft (Panelist)
Dr. Markus Heller, Managing Partner at Dr. Fried & Partner GmbH (Moderator)


15:45 – 16:45 | Carrier & Cruise Track
Mastering Transformation within the New EU Border Control Landscape (ETIAS & EES)

With the introduction of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) and the Entry Exit System (EES), the travel industry is facing a significant transformation of EU border controls that affects both carriers and travelers alike. This panel discussion, initiated with an informative keynote by Frontex, provides a comprehensive introduction to the functioning and benefits of these new systems, as well as their impact on carriers and travelers. The subsequent round of discussions aims to achieve transparency regarding the implementation of the systems through collective dialogue and to thoroughly explore the resulting consequences for the travel industry. The goal is to develop a detailed understanding of the necessary adjustments to the new regulations and at the same time lay the groundwork for a smooth travel experience in the future.

Alexandre Costa Goncalves, ETIAS Team Leader at Frontex/ ETIAS Central Unit Division (Keynote Speaker & Panelist)
Marie-Caroline Laurent, Director General, Europe at CLIA (Panelist)
Mathias Jakobi, Manager Central Europe at IATA (Panelist)
Dr. Ira Fernández-Lázaro, Senior Executive Strategic Planning & Passenger Experience Aviation Management at Flughafen Düsseldorf GmbH (Panelist)
Thorsten Schmidt-Look, Projektgruppe Smart Borders BPOL at Bundespolizei (Panelist)
Hanna Kleber, CEO at KLEBER GROUP & President at Corps Touristique (Moderator)


16:45 – 17:45 | Carrier & Cruise Track
Increasing Bookings, New Routes, More Ships – Cruise Shipping at the Crossroads between Industry Boom and Climate Neutrality

The growth rates of cruise tourism are increasing, as are the requirements for climate protection and truly sustainable tourism. NGOs and industry representatives are openly discussing the question of how sustainable is cruise shipping really. Where are the deficits, what has already been achieved and what are the challenges of the future? Is more differentiation between types of cruise tourism necessary? Are increasingly larger ships like the icon of the seas a signal for more sustainability or the opposite? How does the industry react to the tightening of emissions targets for shipping at international (IMO) and EU level (“Fit for 55”, FuelEU Maritime, ETS, REDIII) as well as the inclusion of shipping in the ETS? Is the industry preparing for further restrictions like those in Norway? Will cruise shipping become the first mover of all shipping or will there be tough competition due to the low availability of green fuels? Is more differentiation between types of cruise tourism necessary? Is zero emissions realistic? When it comes to sustainability, does cruise shipping “just” have an image problem or is it a structural issue? What can politicians and a critical public contribute to achieving the goals of the energy transition together with the industry? We are looking forward for an open, honest and clear debate.

Marie-Caroline Laurent, Director General, Europe at CLIA (Panelist)
Michele Francioni, Chief Energy Transition Officer at MSC Cruises SA (Panelist)
Daniel Skjeldam, CEO at HX (Hurtigruten Expeditions) & Hurtigruten Group (Panelist)
Malte Siegert, Chairman at Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) (Panelist)
Georg Ehrmann, Managing Director at von Beust & Coll. Beratungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG (Moderator)


We look forward to exciting keynotes, panel discussions and new impulses!

Get your ticket now by following this link.

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Structural Changes

Gender reference

For better readability, the generic masculine is used in these articles. The designations of persons used in these articles refer to all genders unless otherwise indicated.