We should have taken more than three hours and 24 minutes to go around the world today. At least we slowed down in Italy, and Turkey, for some heavenly doses of caffeine. And we did let the violins lure us onto the streets of Buenos Aires for a brief tango. Sure, we stopped again for a little samba show in nearby Brazil that was simply too much fun to pass. It was impossible to cross Africa without taking a little safari, too. Still, we should have taken more than three hours and 24 minutes . . . but work cut our globetrotting short. Oh well, I guess that's why we're here.
Here is Berlin, Germany, home of ITB every March. It's the world's largest travel trade show, where almost 11,000 participants spend five days competing to convince travel agents, tour operators, the media and consumers that their destination is the best place to holiday.
Remember your first trip to Costco, gawking at the sheer size of the place? ITB is 26 Costcos. It's a street fair with Mardi Gras flare, a state fair with infinitesimally better food. Oh, there are meetings going on through all of this – plenty of them – but it's a circus side show at the same time and at 5:01 the decibel level rises threefold.
Professionally, since my Miles time is dedicated to Brand USA programs, I'm checking out the “competitive” destinations to get ideas. Personally, I take the tour of 26 halls and fill my travel bag with literature and schwag for potential honeymoon spots. At the end of the day, I have a few pounds of possibilities to ponder from at least 30 of the 180 countries that are here.
Berlin itself is a stupendous destination with diverse art and architecture. It's a city with a very dark past and an extremely colorful present which includes an incredible graffiti scene, lively markets, diverse restaurants and museums filled with treasures taken from many conquered lands.
The line between East and West has definitely been blurred since Gorby listened to Reagan and tore down that wall, but there are still distinctions.
In a world where email way too often takes the place of phone calls, and conference calls far too often replace face-to-face meetings, it's uplifting to see the world come together here to do business the old-fashioned way.
Word is 113,000 industry professionals will be here this week, more than a third of them from another continent. It's proof traveling for business builds business. What's even better is hearing how many people have made ITB a trip within a trip, stopping somewhere else before or after Berlin simply for the love of travel. Hmm . . . how many vacation days do I have left this year?