Skift Take

Conferences aren't just in the room any more.

For our first conference, we gathered 25 speakers, seven moderators, 10 sponsors and nearly 400 attendees who are passionate about travel.

Topics ranged across strategy, marketing, tech, and digital, and tried to both inform and inspire the crowd. We published a series of posts with top quotes from each speaker that made us think.

On Twitter, #skiftforum generated conversations one day before the event and is still taking place after its close. More than 3,000 tweets were published related to the event. Here’s a quick recap:

Reporters like Michelle Grant from Euromonitor (a Skift content partner) was the most active person on Twitter through her real-time coverage. Other guests rose to the social occasion and included Nicole Merrill, Travel Writer; Matt Stiker, CMO, cityPASS; and Lauren Knudsen, J Public Relations, as well as Henry Harteveldt for hosting three conversations with Marty St. George, SVP, Commercial, JetBlue; Kevin Krone, Chief Marketing Officer, Southwest; as well as Ben Orson, Managing Director, JPA Design who spoke at the Forum and live tweeted between sessions.

One of our early morning speakers, Sree Sreenivasan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art rallied the Twitter storm before, during, and after his presentation about reinventing attractions and museums for the digital age. He put together a photo gallery tweet of the program and his opinion about the overall look and feel of the conference.

The guests stood in the lobby where our sponsors like MasterCard, Gogo, CheapOair, cityPASS, and Boxever had their booths.

This was the crowd right before the first session started.

After Phil McAveety, Chief Brand Officer, Starwood Hotels and Resorts; Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer, Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Fred Reid, Founding CEO, Virgin America spoke, Wendy Perrin, TripAdvisor’s Travel Advocate tweeted about her take on our conference. It got retweeted and repurposed so much on social that guests were describing it to us verbally.

Following this presentation, Christopher Nurko, Global Chairman of FutureBrand deconstructed the elements of the 1960s cartoon show, “The Jetsons” and hit the crowd with eight insights into the millennial mind.

The second half of the morning session continued with talks about destinations and tourism boards’ evolving role in corporate responsibility and reaching locals and international travelers. It ended with the backstory of Southwest Airline’s branding story before breaking for lunch.

During a sit-down meal sponsored by Amadeus, Nick Gray, Founder of MuseumHack blew away the audience by presenting a disruptive alternative of experiencing art in the most unassuming and most impressionable way. Melanie Panton at Hearst was struck by MuseumHack’s presentation.

Throughout the day, guests were connecting with each other on Twitter and meeting during the breaks. TheDesignAir (another Skift content partner) was a huge fan of Christopher Nurko’s slide and later its brand connected with him and tweeted a shoutout.

The afternoon sessions were focused on deepening customer experience, maximizing actionable insights from large data points, and the future of transactions. Towards the middle of the afternoon, creative storytelling, and airline and hotel design were also topics discussed. Dae Mellencamp, President of Vimeo opened the second half with a visually arresting video. Attendees like Robert Patterson at MMGY Global, marveled over it and sought the link out to share it with the rest of us.

After this video, the Twitter activity peaked again. The audience’s attention was sustained for the last half of the afternoon and reached another climax when Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality, Airbnb, quoted Ghandi. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win” was the quote that had drove social activity up because it was contentious.

Skift co-founders Rafat Ali and Jason Clampet returned to the stage and ended the conference by giving their thanks and left the audience with a video that represented the passion behind Skift. Although Ali told the crowd they didn’t have to stay for this video, they watched and tweeted about their experience.

The following day, our conference was still fresh on attendees’ minds. It is quite a compliment to read tweets that likened our conference to TED and SXSW. With that said, we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year.

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Tags: sgf2014, skift, skift global forum

Photo credit: Chris Nurko of Futurebrand, speaking at the conference on October 9. Skift

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