Last week we launched our first ever magazine, “Megatrends Defining Travel in 2015“, where we identify the global trends in travel in 2015 and beyond, and focus on three emerging key themes: Mobile. Seamless. Experiential. Below is an extract from the first trend.

For all the hype that airlines receive as the highest profile sector in the global travel industry, for all the media attention online travel companies and new digital tools and services get, the future of travel — at the intersection of design and user-experience — is being quietly charted elsewhere.

The global hospitality industry, comprised of the organized hotels sector, the vacation rentals sector, and the still-nascent sharing economy sector, is driving all innovation in travel now.

For the first time since online booking of travel became mainstream, hotels are being rewired and rethought from top to bottom, and every obvious part of hospitality is being turned over, questioned, and retooled.

As consumers become self-serve and mobile-dependent, new models and approaches to both customer relations and local discovery are emerging, and hospitality is the big crucible where all of this is playing out.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.19.19 AMWe see this at every touchpoint in the hospitality industry: From how hotels are building direct links to customers in digital, to how customer service is being rethought through social and mobile tools. Within the confines of a property we see this in how hotels are redoing lobbies and how customers check in, as well as everything about the customer experience inside a hotel room, entertainment inside the hotel, and food & beverage offerings, too. Brands are also questioning customer interaction pre-, during and post-trip, as they examine and rebuild it in new ways.

Most major chains in the hotel industry are figuring out the right mix of digital and human interactions to create guest experiences that are personalized enough while respecting privacy, as digitally-empowered consumers demand a lot more.

Hospitality is also leading the charge to make Wi-Fi free, and this unleashes a number of possibilities on all fronts for building on top of pervasive connectivity inside their properties and out into destinations.

As Chris Silcock, SVP of Hilton Worldwide told Skift earlier in the year, “Because of connectivity levels, because of the adoption of the smartphone, because of the data that is available — and people’s willingness to share data, we, right now, have the opportunity to reimagine the hospitality experience, combining the physical and the digital.”

Hospitality groups are looking way beyond their own silos for inspiration to rethink experiences (the Morgans Hotels and Vice dinner party tie-up comes to mind), they’re rethinking how guests move around their hotel properties (the Marriott experiment with beacon technology) to how they access their rooms (Starwood’s keyless mobile entry to rooms), to how hotel lobbies are becoming a portal to the local culture surrounding the property (following Kimpton’s lead, pretty much every hotel group is working on this).

This is an extract, get this and all the other trends, download the magazine for full trends for 2015.

We want to thanks our magazine sponsors Virgin Atlantic, Amadeus and Egencia for making this possible.

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DOWNLOAD THE SKIFT 2015 MAGAZINE

Photo Credit: Skift's flagship megatrend for 2015.