At the Uganda stand, my booth for Mweya Safari Lodge
Messe - Berlin, Germany (1998): Most of my travels to Berlin have always been business related. I worked in the Tourism industry for 8 years as a Tour & Travel consultant. Berlin is home to one of the world’s largest travel fairs called the ITB. The whole range of travelers and travel sellers and buyers come to Berlin every March. In 2009 it will be hosted between the11th – 15th of March at the ICC & Messe. ITB brings together sellers of destinations, tour and travel operators, first class booking systems, hotels, car rental companies, virtual sellers and a list of unimaginable suppliers who want to make sure their client’s vacations and holidays through the year are the brightest.
The most beautiful travel destinations are revealed each year in Berlin: the destinations of choice. In 1998 when I first attended, the destinations of choice were Malta, Turkey, Sharjah, Doha, Dubai, Israel, Cape Town, Egypt, and Kenya. Kenya has always made the list of ‘destination of choice’
Sharjah stand, another of the destinatios of choice 1998. Posiing with Mohammad the trade delegate for Sharjah after a successful meeting with him.
At ITB, one can discover the whole world by quite simply visiting each stand at the fair. The world comes together under one umbrella just to woo and wow you. For the traveler like me, it is the worst thing to be working instead of looking around for the next place to visit.
So, every year I came to the fair and meet business partners while making new contacts for the next year.
Turkey stand (Turkey was on of the destinations of choice at the 1998 ITB tours)
Some of the most powerful names in all industries come together, to sponsor this event. For as long as I remember ITB, CNN has been a proud sponsor, next year, I understand Yahoo will be one of the proud sponsors. There is no where in the world to get exposure for your business like at the ITB. Over one hundred and eighty some countries come to the fair every year making this the largest trade fair in the world.
In 1998 my employer Mweya Safari Lodge chose me to represent the company in Berlin. My job then was a marketing manager: as such I worked to promote the lodge which had recently been taken over by the largest employer in my country; Madhvani. With renovations under way and potential looming from being the only lodge located in the heart of Queen Elizabeth national Park, there was no better way than to promote this beautiful hide away in one of Africa’s most popular safari destinations.
This is me, stealing time to see the Turkey stand after my meeting with the Sharjah delegate.
One thing I remember clearly was how cold it was the winter of 1998, the wind factor was high with 30 mile winds and temperatures below zero. I can still remember my ears being numb and my knuckles hurting like hell. I thought I had dressed well with four layers of clothing, but when the fair was done, I could not go home. Instead my friend Peter rushed me to the hospital. The chill had gone straight to my bones causing a feverish feeling and very high temperatures. My advise to all is that you wear more than four layers, seriously. O' and drink lot's of fluids, I must say I hated taking coffee because it was never too hot and they did not have microwaves to warm it up (well they are not exactly the microwave society that America is, lol!) The following years, I carried my giant flask from the hotel filled with very hot tea boiled at over two hundred degrees. Peter made sure I had hot tea otherwise the smile on my face faded away hahaaa. He was a darling.
I can not remember all the details, as it has been a while. I will update this blog as I recollect all that happened during this particular ITB meeting. I did after this one, attended one every year until 2004 when I relocated to the United States.