Since its launch in 2012 read how the show has gone from strength to strength with exhibitor and visitor numbers increasing year on year.
History of WTCE
Launched in 2012 adjacent to Aircraft Interiors Expo, WTCE attracted 194 exhibitors, 971 visitors, including 330 airline & rail representatives. Michel Quissac, Servair, opened the Taste of Travel Theatre treating the audience to a taste of First-Class fine dining. The 2012 event gained industry recognition and was nominated for an AEO Exellence Award.
The show continued to grow increasing to 200+ exhibitors, attracting 1,140 visitors including 350 airline and rail operators. The introduction of the Drinks Reception proved popular with both exhibitors and visitors, giving everyone the chance to relax after a busy day at the show. The Taste of Travel Theatre expanded to include wine tasting and the popular brand comparison session.
The show attracted over 60 new suppliers, to accommodate the growth we extended into the upper hall creating a focal area for new exhibitors. With 245 exhibitors, 1,460+ visitors including 450+ airline and rail operators the show exceeded expectations. The Taste of Travel Theatre grew to include presentations alongside the popular onboard chefs, the new Networking Lunches also proved popular with visitors.
Due to the success of WTCE with exhibitors increasing to 300+ the show relocated to the A Halls of the Hamburg Messe. New features were introduced including: What's New Onboard showcasing products newly launched to market and the Travel Retail Zone & Trail further expanding the shows content. Visitor numbers increased to 1,750+ including 600+ airline and rail representatives. WTCE will stay in the A Halls where it can showcase the very best products and services to the widest international audience possible.
In 2016 WTCE celebrated it's 5th Anniversary, attendees at the annual drinks reception enjoyed taking part in the selfie competition and indulging in specially created celebratory cakes! Over 300 suppliers showcased a fantastic array of products for the onboard industry, which kept the 1,900 visitors including 750 airline, catering and rail buyers very busy over the 3 days. The Taste of Travel Theatre was popular with attendees enjoying live demonstrations and sampling delicious culinary creations.
The 6th edition of the show returned 4-6 April 2017 with a new Focus on World Travel Retail. Showcasing a wide range of luxury Duty Free and Travel Retail goods for sale onboard the aircraft. Providing a one stop shop for all the airline's onboard requirements! There was also an improved Taste of Travel programme, a spotlight on travel Apparel and the popular What's New Onboard feature area.
2018 saw the show expand into 4 halls with over 350 international suppliers. Each hall had a New Exhibitor Village attracting over 100 suppliers new to the show. 2,000+ visitors attended including over 800 airline, catering and rail buyers looking to source the latest new and innovative products to help differentiate their brand. The Taste of Travel Theatre returned with a great line-up of future orientated presenters and world-class chefs. There was also a new Business Meeting Hub, expanded What's New Onboard feature and new look Spotlight on Travel Apparel.
The 8th edition attracted over 4000 attendees all looking to network, exchange ideas and stay up to date with industry developments. With many new and innovative products on display in 2019 airlines, rail operators and onboard caterers attended the show with the knowledge they would find new suppliers and new products to excite and delight their customers. Education was also key at the 2019 event with many hot topics up for debate including, sustainability, free-from dining and the reduction of plastic onboard.
2020 was an unpreceded year, and for the first time ever we had to cancel the event due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst we weren’t able to meet face to face, and we all had to adjust to new ways of working, we were fortunate to be able to run two successful PEC Virtual Series of webinars covering all the hot topics which would have been at the event. A total of 14 webinar sessions took place across the summer and autumn of 2020, with fantastic participation and feedback as we continued to support the industry.
Back to a face-to-face event format since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the show received 250 Exhibitors, of which 95 were listed as First Time Exhibitors, bringing on board 138 Airlines and over 4 900 visitors from over 100 countries. With the triumphant return to the world stage of onboard retail, passenger comfort, and inflight catering, the 2022 show was also celebrating its 10th anniversary.
A series of special features marked the milestone, including the 'Onboard Icons' awards, which recognised the contribution of 10 of the industry's most influential people in the sector. Additionally, a showcase of 10 of the 50+ companies which have exhibited at WTCE since 2012 was presented at the show, with many having gone on to develop their businesses successfully. As in previous years, education was also key at the 2022 event, with over 20 hours of free-to-attend training sessions at the dedicated Taste of Travel Theatre area. And, to keep visitors and exhibitors in the party spirit, attendees could enjoy networking opportunities, including the official Drinks Reception sponsored by Heineken.
2023 saw WTCE return to the A halls of Hamburg Messe, welcoming more than 250 exhibitors including over 60 suppliers showcasing their onboard-ready products for the first time at the show. Filling the halls for the 3-days' shows were 3,500 attendees from 77 countries who came specifically to taste, touch and taste the latest travel catering and onboard services solutions as well as those who migrated over from co-located Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX).
New features including the Wellbeing Walk-through, featuring 30+ exhibitors with the latest wellness products, were unveiled alongside returning ones like the What's New Onboard showcase and Taste of Travel Theatre. The latter hosted world-famous chefs and industry thought leaders alike across a packed programme featuring demos, food tastings and panels. And, with the number of VIPs, including buyers and decision makers from airlines and rail operators around the world, increasing from last year, WTCE was once again a place for inspiration and meaningful business.
I have attended WTCE as both an exhibitor and visitor and it is a very important show for the industry. It’s a great place to discover new innovation and meet with contacts, new and old. Networking is very important in this industry, and this is the perfect place for it. It’s also a really great place to identify new trends that are coming up in the future – overall it’s a really great show!
I’m looking for new solutions and to meet the right people, and both of those are here in a well organised space. Each company also has samples to try, which is really important for me as it’s hard to get to know a product from looking through a catalogue but at WTCE I can try products first-hand. It’s great to find everything in one place at the same time.