September 24, 2019

5 Things We Learned at the Skift Global Forum

The TripActions Team
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Last week’s Skift Global Forum in New York City was a smashing success, and the TripActions team was lucky enough to attend and learn from some of the industry’s biggest thought leaders. And while many of our takeaways came in the form of new friends, potential customers, and partners, there were a few themes that floated to the surface across sessions and conversations. Here are some of the most salient takeaways.

Sustainability in Travel is Today’s Problem

One of the global themes at the Skift Global Forum was sustainability and the industry’s role in creating a better, more responsible travel economy. Every company that visited the main stage shared its own initiative — from Delta’s effort to create biofuel from forest floor debris to Saira Hospitality’s effort to source and train staff local to hotels. But what was most obvious was that solutions are needed TODAY versus planning for them tomorrow.

Expect Disruption to the Hotel Check-In Process

Legendary hotel designer Ian Schrager was interviewed by Debbie Millman, the founder and host of the podcast Design Matters, at the Skift Design Awards. And just as the TripActions mobile app has become a powerful tool for booking and managing business travel, Schrager predicts that your iPhone or Android device will soon be critical to the hotel check-in process. Sure, many hotels already offer the technology to check in and access your room as a digital key, but according to Schrager, nobody has perfected the process. As soon as those design aspects click, however, we’ll see a wholesale movement to digital check-in.

Biometrics are the Future of Travel Security

Anyone who has ever used Global Entry or TSA Precheck knows the value of using biometrics to speed security lines. Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, predicts that biometrics are going to play an even bigger role in the traveler experience in the future. From unlocking your phone and boarding passes with fingerprints or FaceID to boarding an aircraft by using a facial scan, in the future, multiple travel touch points will be linked to your DNA. In the aforementioned hotel check in process, imagine if the hotel recognizes your phone upon entering the lobby, biometrics confirm your identity, and you can skip check in, handing over a credit card, and check out altogether.

Mobility Matters

Travel bookers and operators are missing a big opportunity in not planning around mobility, says Stephen Cluskey, the founder of Mobility Mojo. From adding accessibility options to hotel descriptions to building out special booking tools for those with mobility needs, Cluskey argues that there’s a great untapped opportunity for companies to better serve clients and generate revenue.

“Travelers with accessibility needs stay longer, spend more than other travelers, and often drive the decision for everyone else in their travel party.” said Cluskey in his presentation at the forum. “Accessibility can be a tremendous asset for hotels — and it’s underutilized.”

Direct Connections Will Dominate

In conversation with Seema Mody, Global Markets Reporter at CNBC, Chief Financial Officer of Marriott International Leeny Oberg revealed that direct sales and direct connections to vendors are an important part of the future of bookings for the company.

These connections are already in process in many corners of the travel industry. Already, TripActions is partnering with United Airlines to offer NDC-enabled direct connections for faster, more streamlined bookings. Down the road, further direct connections will speed the process even more.

We loved the opportunity to learn and discuss these important trends with leaders throughout the travel industry. And we’re excited to keep the conversation going! Join us for TRAVERSE 19, a travel + tech festival hosted by TripActions, on October 2-3 in San Francisco. Registration is still open — you won’t want to miss it.