Rafat Ali, CEO, Skift: Where is Travel Going Next?

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As humans, we crave travel. It connects us to each other and the world around us. Or, as Rafat Ali, founder and CEO of Skift, a leading travel media company, puts it, “Travel as a human need is the default human condition.” But during the pandemic, that need went unfulfilled. Our ability to fly on an airplane, hop in an Uber, or stay in a hotel was drastically limited, if not put on pause. Now, travel is coming back…but just a little bit different. And that raises new questions for both the industry and travelers. Rafat joins the podcast to discuss how the pandemic has both accelerated existing trends and forced a break from the norms of the past — and what the future of travel means for the world.

Listen to this episode to learn:

  • How Skift takes an “outside in” approach to understanding changing travel behaviors and connects the dots to what it means for the travel industry
  • Lessons from the 2021 Skift Global Forum, and predictions from the CEOs of Airbnb, Hilton, and Uber about the future of travel
  • Why embracing flexibility for their customers and pivoting their core business (i.e., becoming cargo carriers) helped airlines survive the pandemic (along with big government subsidies)
  • How airports are redesigning their experience through the customers’ lens — from elevated food options to biometrics and “contactless” check-ins
  • Why we’re seeing a boom in domestic travel and how travelers’ rediscovery of the outdoors and local areas is helping small businesses thrive
  • How the hotel guest experience has changed as a result of the pandemic (and why your room might not get serviced daily ever again)
  • Google’s new sustainability scores, sustainable aviation fuel, and ways in which the travel and hospitality industries are approaching “sustainability”