May 24, 2024

5 Big Themes Shaping the Future of Travel

Skift Take

Our goal is to constantly come up with new ways of looking at the world – and understand how shifts affect global travel.

We started Skift on July 30, 2012, and set out to define the future of travel. We reported when the industry made bold, innovative moves – and called out missteps and wrongdoing. Observers called us “cool” and the “most influential media brand in travel.” 

11 years on, our founding principles still serve us well. But it’s the future that matters.

Skift co-founder and CEO Rafat Ali identified five large themes that will have a huge impact on travel for years to come. In this video and the text below, he connects the dots and explains how.

1. The Future of Work

“Whatever the future of work is, is the future of travel.”

And no, this does not just refer to business travel. A person’s job defines what type of traveler they are. It’ll decide where you roam, what activities you do, who you explore the world with, and when your wanderlust takes flight. 

Conferences, meetings, and events will be the gateway to bringing workplaces together, especially for hybrid businesses, which are becoming increasingly prevalent.

2. The Future of Demographics 

“This is the youngest the world will ever be.”

India has overtaken China as the most populous country. Many other societies are getting older a lot more quickly than we first thought. At the same time, people are living longer and healthier. 

The travel industry must get ready: These trends will impact how and what it sells – and who it sells to.  

3. The Future of Tech

“What happens with AI and what happens with interaction tech.”

It is hard to predict how this will all play out. Interaction tech, as seen in devices such as the Apple Vision Pro, provides augmented reality. That could be a game changer for how we access travel. 

AI, on the other hand, has endless touch points. From the booking process all the way to how travel companies utilize AI to increase efficiencies. The everyday traveler will face changes in this space, and it has already started.

4. The Future of Activism 

“One of the first things they will cut is corporate travel.”

The world is trying to be greener, and so are large companies. And they’re going to face pressure to do so. Unfortunately, air travel (currently) doesn’t align with these environmental goals. 

The louder we get about sustainability, the more companies are going to change and the bigger effect on the business of travel. 

5. The Future of Polarization 

“If the fight between the West and China continues the way it is, Chinese travelers won’t be traveling.”

Nearly all governments impact (to some degree) where their citizens travel. If two countries are hostile towards each other, it is simple; they will limit travel to and from those nations. 

Polarization is also driven by culture wars. Whether that is between states in the U.S. or nations across the globe, it will also impact travel. How? Our politics will determine. 

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