Optimistic travel industry prepares for WTCE 2018

25 Jan 2018

The annual event from 10-12 April promises to bring global travel professionals together amid a strong industry growth forecast

It’s had its fair share of highs and lows over the last decade, but the travel industry is set for growth, almost 10 years after the global financial crisis threatened to derail it completely. According to the 2018 Global Travel Market Outlook, the sector appears to be on a solid upward trajectory, with emerging and developing markets in particular registering a healthy outlook. Although geopolitical tensions can’t be ignored, consumer and business confidence is high, indicating that 2018 is gearing up to be a year of strong macroeconomic growth for the industry.

When it comes to the various transport industries, the picture is equally positive. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the airline sector is on course for record profit in 2018, up from $34.5billion in 2017 to $38.4billion this year. Strong demand, efficiency and reduced interest payments will help airlines improve net profitability in 2018 despite rising costs. However, it’s not just aviation that is driving growth in the tourism industry. Improvements in rail travel have seen a huge boost to this once fading sector, with 1.73 billion train journeys made in Britain alone from 2016-2017, while the cruise industry is set for another year of significant growth in 2018, thanks largely to a new generation of ‘millennial’ cruisers.

This sets a promising scene for this year’s World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo (WTCE®), returning to Hamburg from 10-12 April 2018. The event, which offers unrivalled networking opportunities among its 3,700 attendees, is expanding this year to span four halls of the Hamburg Messe, increasing its exhibitor count to more than 350 suppliers from over 30 countries including Argentina, Australia, China, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Taiwan and the USA.

WTCE is primed to inspire a new generation of passenger experiences with more exhibitors and product innovations than ever before. Visitors can see products from a broad range of categories at the event including food & beverages, hygiene, transport & logistics, packaging, travel retail, passenger comfort, toys and games, with many launching products that have never been seen before.

One category that is expected to see increased exhibitor representation at the event this year is snacks. Recent research by the organisers of WTCE revealed that sweet and savoury snacks account for two of the top five food products most sought by airlines. The interest in snacks for onboard consumption comes as the growth of buy onboard presents new challenges and opportunities for travel operators to drive ancillary revenue and cater for a wide array of consumer preferences.

2018 exhibitor highlights
Many companies specialising in snacks have already signed up to showcase their very latest products, including British-based NIBNIBs, a new exhibitor for 2018 that will offer visitors a chance to try its premium mini breadsticks and grissini, cookies and award-winning coconut mini biscuits. Italcarelli di P Lopez Srl will showcase Un Due Tris Merenda, a new nutritious snack made especially for children. The sticks of salami, cooked ham or crunchy breadsticks are made with 100% apple sauce and make a tasty and nutritious option for on-the-go snacking. BitesWeLove will also be exhibiting at the event showcasing its range of healthy nutty snacks which incorporate ingredients, such as dry-roasted tamari almonds, salted chickpeas, naturally sweet dried mango or dark chocolate buttons.  Its range of Pecan Boo, Chili Con Karma and Cheeky Apricot snacks are packaged using sustainable, fully biodegradable plastic, to ensure the products are both healthy and minimise waste and damage on the environment.

Returning to the exhibition this year will be many of the industry’s well-known providers of passenger experience products and solutions. gategroup will be back with a wide range of products and solutions for catering and hospitality, provisioning and logistics as well as onboard services. The company’s product range covers service equipment, comfort items and packaging as well as premium amenity kits and distributed food and beverage solutions. Also making a comeback will be LSG Group with its integrated businesses LSG Sky Chefs (the company’s core catering company), equipment specialists Spiriant, logistics experts SkylogistiX, innovative packaged food from Oakfield Farms Solutions, and the latest retail and technology concepts from Retail inMotion. Kaelis On Board Services, a world-leading provider of on-board products and services will also highlight its latest developments in amenity kits, blankets and business tableware.

In addition to the well-established exhibitors, this year’s show will also welcome a wealth of new companies to the floor. The New Exhibitor Villages have been improved and expanded for this year and will comprise four zones dedicated to first time exhibitors across Halls A1-A4. These areas are extremely popular with visitors as they often feature new products and businesses that buyers might otherwise not get the chance to see. Companies exhibiting in these villages include Avantgarde Spirits Company GmbH, a bohemian drinks business offering high quality ready-to-drink classic cocktails, Carelian Caviar, a sustainable and 100% natural premium caviar brand produced in crystal-clear Nordic waters on a farm in Finland, Inflight Equipment International (iei), an Australian supplier of premium tableware, and Jiangyin UTA-TECH, a special inflight and travel products supplier offering a range of rotable, disposable bioplastic cutlery, tableware and anti-skid tray mats. 

Stand out show areas
Elsewhere at the exhibition, there will be a selection of designated areas to enable visitors to easily identify products and services that are of interest to them. Giving airtime to brand new products will be the WTCE What’s New Onboard that will feature products and innovations launched to the market in the past 12 months or less.

Focus on World Travel Retail will return to Hall A4, where buyers can peruse a range of products for inflight purchase. These unique travel retail products can add a significant point of difference to an airline’s onboard offering and help operators set their brand apart from the rest. Exhibitors taking part this year include purveyors of a wide range of luxury and high-end items such as Animaux, Bottega SpA, Butlers Chocolates and Ladurée. Products include jewellery, watches, clothing, fragrances, cosmetics, wines and spirits as well as electronic goods to name a few. The area will also host the popular Gebr. Heinemann Networking Bar, which will offer visitors and exhibitors the chance to network, do business and sample the future of travel retail onboard through a series of branded networking sessions.

A designated trail will also enable visitors to quickly identify suppliers relevant to the rail sector. The Rail Trail, made up of companies with a specific interest in the onboard rail sector, will lead interested operators to these specific businesses, including August Lundh, a Swedish supplier offering high-quality galley and catering equipment designed for the travel catering industry, Les Grands Chais de France, one of the world's leading French wine and spirits merchants and SKYPRO, a global brand offering a range of shoes, uniforms and accessories for travel professionals.

Also providing visitors with unrivalled inspiration for their air, rail and cruise operations will be this year’s Taste of Travel Theatre. Cutting edge presentations alongside live demonstrations from some of the finest onboard chefs in the industry will aim to educate the audience about the future of the sector, encourage them to think about current and upcoming trends and urge them to understand how they can best enhance the passenger experience. Delegates will also be given the opportunity to attend tasting and sampling sessions held between 12.30 and 13.00 each day.

Held in association with Onboard Hospitality and managed by Jo Austin, long-standing industry consultant, this year’s programme features a stellar line-up of world-class chefs, inspirational presenters and industry high-fliers. Kicking off day one, Sturla Birgisson, ex-competitor and current judge of Bocuse d’Or will present a session on The Taste of Iceland, explaining how he launched a new and refreshing menu for Icelandair Saga Class, focusing on pure, fresh, simple and ethical cooking. Jan Vales and Martin Janura of JLV, one of Europe’s oldest catering companies together with Morislav Kubec, President of the Association of Chefs of the Czech Republic, will then go on to present Gastronomy on the Rails, looking at the modern catering concept onboard Czech Railways. Dining on the rails will also be the subject of Rail Gourmet’s session Get on Track on day two, featuring a ‘First Class’ breakfast created by Jenny Greenhalgh, Rail Gourmet’s Executive Chef based on the James Martin concept for Virgin East Coast.

Other themes that will also be covered in the theatre include The Powers of the Mediterranean Diet hosted by celebrity chef and award-winning author Valentina Harris and the Rise of Superfoods, a session given by James Strawbridge of the Posh Pasty Company on how superfoods can be used in the development of new products in the hot savoury sector.

As ever, relationship building is a key focus for this year’s event, and WTCE 2018 will see the introduction of new and improved networking facilities to ensure that all attendees can easily initiate and execute fruitful business discussions and maximise their time spent in Hamburg this spring.

The WTCE Business Meeting Hub is one such addition, providing a dedicated place for attendees to hold meetings with key clients. VIP airline and rail attendees will have priority booking for the new hub which is located in Hall A2 and offers the perfect place to do business at the show. Also aiding relationship building is the improved My Event tool, which allows attendees to plan ahead of the show in April by flagging key exhibitors to visit or Taste of Travel sessions to attend. Both visitors and exhibitors can explore a full list of participating companies and attendees, to establish contact and pre-arrange meetings to improve efficiency and maximise time spent at the show in Hamburg.

Staying ahead of the revolution
During the last five years, the travel sector has witnessed industry-wide changes in the way passengers approach their journeys – and there are further huge changes afoot. As such, new trends and challenges are appearing that will be discussed in detail during this year’s education programme.

This will kick off with the Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) on 9 April 2018, which is set to examine the impact of critical travel trends on the air and rail industries. Aimed at senior strategists from airlines, rail and the entire industry supply chain, the conference will bring together experts and visionaries from airlines, airframers, OEMs, suppliers and design organisations to offer delegates the opportunity to discover innovative solutions, hear new ideas and identify the next steps in the evolution of passenger experiences, onboard environments and services.

An inspirational plenary session examining the convergence of next-generation transport solutions and how addressing these frontiers will also drive onboard and passenger experience innovations across mainstream aviation and rail operations will open the conference. This will be followed by three breakout streams that will run concurrently for the rest of the day: Convergence and Mobility; Sustainability and Flexibility and Personalising the Journey.

Each stream will feature some of the industry’s most inspirational senior leaders debating the issues as well as examining how digital disruption and connectivity can better improve all aspects of the passenger experience in the future. Speakers currently confirmed to participate include Blake Emery, Director Differentiation Strategy at Boeing, Rosalyn Gough, Cabin Quality Product Manager at Thomas Cook Airlines, Joel Fragata, Head of In-flight and On-ground product at TAP Air Portugal, Madeleine Braun, Product Manager for World Business Class at KLM and Alan Gaskin, Head of Operational Delivery for Air New Zealand amongst many others.

The popular Industry Networking Party will take place after the Passenger Experience Conference, providing an opportunity for professionals in the industry to meet new people and build new business connections in a relaxed and fun environment.

Two further events will complete the 2018 Passenger Experience Week line-up. In addition to the Passenger Experience Conference and WTCE, Aircraft Interiors Expo will take place at the Hamburg Messe from 10-12 April 2018, offering attendees from airlines and the supply chain the opportunity to source the latest innovations, technologies and products for the cabin interiors, inflight entertainment and passenger comfort industries. Completing the programme will be the brand new Passenger Technology Solutions (PTS) event, which will provide airlines and rail operators with the chance to network with companies offering the very latest developments in passenger technologies from mobile initiatives, IT solutions, big data and analytics technology, in-flight payment technology, digital marketing services and airline software.

With four Passenger Experience Week events being staged under one roof, the Hamburg Messe truly is the place for operators within the air, rail, coach and cruise industries to discover the latest cabin innovations that will enable them to create the best possible passenger experience in the industry.

WTCE remains the number one event for buyers from the world’s international, charter and regional airlines and rail operators, as well as cruise and coach companies. It also offers a unique platform to see the newest products and innovations, benefit from expert insight and advice and network with peers.

For more information visit www.worldtravelcateringexpo.com

For further press information please contact Beki McVicker or Lesley Foottit at Storm Communications press office on +44 (0) 207 240 2444 or email wtce@stormcom.co.uk.

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