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ETTFA Comment on… New ETTFA president looks ahead

ETTFA has a new president as it prepares to face the continuing challenges to tourism exhibitions posed by the Internet and changes in the travel industry.

Klara Tihanyi, who is director of the long-established UTAZAS International Tourism Fair in Budapest, Hungary, says exhibition organisers must stress the importance of face-to-face contact – something often lacking in the electronic age.

She also feels ETTFA could raise awareness of itself among the travel industry and consumers, to distinguish experienced tourism exhibition organisers from new and often cut-price competitors.

Many ETTFA members – including UTAZAS – admit the public as well as the travel industry to their shows. But the growth in on-line booking means that fewer consumers want to come to exhibitions to talk to travel companies and possibly make bookings.

“All over Europe, the first problem we face is the Internet,” says Tihanyi. “The younger generation often books on-line rather than with the companies who are our customers at exhibitions, and it is a big problem if these companies feel they no longer have the budget to attend an exhibition.

“But we sell the emotions and feelings of an exhibition, not just square meters. It is important to attract consumers with entertainment, while conferences during exhibitions are another way of getting the trade involved.

“Our exhibiting partners also have to face the problem of budget airlines, who offer not just air tickets but access to hotel and car hire bookings. Now EasyJet is setting up the EasyHotel chain with prices from only

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