Skift Take

As we've said before, this is not a freakin' trade conference.

Skift Global Forum 2015 opens today.

We wanted to build something that showed the business and creative potential of the world’s largest industry. Take a day or two out, come, sit back, and listen, and we will promise you the best creative brainfood for the year.

This is year two, and we have grown exponentially since last year. The 2014 event was one day and 400 people, while today is two days and 800 people.

The people who will take the stage today and tomorrow are a showcase of the industry’s most creative, curious, and compelling voices; people who think about the future as much as we do every day. The audience is just as creative, too.

We work very hard with each speaker to get the best talk out of them — literally hours and hours are spent with each speaker. Last year there were 25 speakers and this year we have 37, spread over two days, each a rapid-fire session to keep the talk distilled to the best learnings out of it.

Where to Follow It

If you want to experience it live, we’ll see you at next year’s event. We’ll also be posting videos and excerpts of the event on over the coming months.

For today, we will have extensive editorial coverage of the Forum sessions and social activity.

  • For online coverage, go here on We’ll be posting highlights from each session.
  • For social coverage on Twitter or Instagram, check out the hashtag of the Forum #skiftforum. We’ll also be retweeting social activity through our Twitter feed.

The full schedule for the Forum is below:

October 14th Schedule
Session Title Start Time End Time Description
Doors & Registration Open 7:30 AM
Breakfast 7:45 AM 8:30 AM
The Fault Lines of Disruption In The Global Travel Industry 9:00 AM 9:30 AM Opening Introduction by Rafat Ali, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Skift
Reversing Your POV: A New Perspective on Hospitality 9:30 AM 9:50 AM Mark Hoplamazian, President, Chief Executive Officer
Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Future of Tourism Marketing for Iconic Tourism Brands 9:50 AM 10:05 AM Fred Dixon, President, Chief Executive Officer
NYC & Company
The Happiness Halo: The Unexpected Benefits From Applying Behavioral Science to Experience Design 10:05 AM 10:25 AM Rick Wise, Chief Executive Officer
Understanding the Socio-Cultural Impact of Travel on Societies 10:25 AM 10:45 AM Geoffrey Kent, Founder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer
Abercrombie & Kent
Moderator: Wendy Perrin, Founder,
Networking Break 10:45 AM 11:05 AM Sponsored by Yahoo!
Special 11:05 AM 11:15 AM Hate Selling: A Love Story
A Sketch by Skift Comedy Troupe
Building a Travel Company Using Crowd Funding 11:15 AM 11:30 AM Diego Saez-Gil, Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder
Loudsourcing, the Inside World of Online Reviews 11:30 AM 11:45 AM Camilla Vasquez, Ph.D., Discourse Analyst & Sociolinguist
University of South Florida
Why the Right Kind of Travel Agent Survived and Thrived 11:45 AM 12:05 PM Matthew Upchurch, Chief Executive Officer
Brand Talk
Sponsored by: MasterCard
12:05 PM 12:20 PM To Make Cities Better and To Make Better Cities
Craig Vosburg, Chief Product Officer
Lunch Break 12:30 PM 2:00 PM Workshop sponsored by: Mindtree
The Connected Traveler: How Digital is Transforming the Traveler Experience
Paul Gottsegen, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, Mindtree
Scott Nason, Travel, Transportation and Hospitality Consultant and Retired Vice President, American Airlines
Reinventing The Business of Tours For the Experiential Travel 2:00 PM 2:20 PM Darrell Wade, Chief Executive Officer
Intrepid Group
Moderator: Jason Clampet, Co-Founder, Head of Content, Skift
The Future of City Branding 2:20 PM 2:40 PM Issam Kazim, Chief Executive Officer
Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing
Art, Culture & the Experience Economy: Learning is the New Luxury 2:40 PM 2:55 PM Craig Greenberg, President and Alice Gray Stites, VP, Museum Director
21c Museum Hotels
Why Visuals are the New Language of Engagement for Consumers 2:55 PM 3:10 PM Jeremy Jauncey, Founder
Beautiful Destinations
Brand Talk
Sponsored by: Adobe
3:10 PM 3:20 PM Creating the Next Golden Age of Travel
Michael Klein, Head of Industry Strategy, Travel & Retail, Adobe
Networking Break 3:20 PM 3:40 PM Sponsored by National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World
Building an Airport for the Future of Travel 3:40 PM 3:55 PM Kim Day, Chief Executive Officer
Denver International Airport
Building a Culturally Relevant Brand By Changing The Cultural Discussion 3:55 PM 4:20 PM Jonathan Mildenhall, Chief Marketing Officer
Moderator: Rafat Ali, Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Skift
Brand Talk
Sponsored by: Amadeus
4:20 PM 4:30 PM A Conversation About the Future of Travel
Scott Alvis, Chief Marketing Officer, Amadeus and Rafat Ali, Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Skift
Why Conversion is the Most Important Metric in Travel 4:30 PM 4:55 PM Paul Hennessy, Chief Executive Officer
Moderator: Dennis Schaal, News Editor, Skift
Closing Remarks 4:55 PM 5:00 PM Rafat Ali, Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Jason Clampet, Co-Founder, Head of Content, Skift
VIP Cruise 5:30 PM 9:00 PM Sponsored by Hornblower Cruises, Adobe & SapientNitro
*Ticket Holders Only*


October 15th Schedule
Session Title Start Time End Time Description
Doors & Registration Open 7:30 AM
Breakfast 7:45 AM 8:30 AM
Day One Recap and Day Two Introductions 9:00 AM 9:30 AM
How to Build an Airline Brand by Not Participating in the Premium Rat Race 9:30 AM 9:50 AM Craig Kreeger, Chief Executive Officer
Virgin Atlantic
Moderator: Henry Harteveldt, Founder, Atmosphere Research Group
Why Obsessing Over Details is the Only Way to Build a Hospitality Brand 9:50 AM 10:10 AM Ivanka Trump, Executive Vice President
Trump Organization
Moderator: Greg Oates, Senior Editor, Skift
Building a Tourism Brand Around Big Events (World Cup & Olympics) 10:10 AM 10:30 AM Vinicius Lummertz, President
Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur)
Moderator: Jason Camplet, Co-Founder, Head of Content, Skift
Networking Break 10:30 AM 10:50 AM
Reinventing Cruises Through Exclusivity and Customization 10:50 AM 11:05 AM Edie Rodriguez, Chief Executive Officer, President
Crystal Cruises
The Right Way to Talk to Different Demographics Across the Guest Journey 11:05 AM 11:25 AM Eric Pearson, Chief Information Officer
InterContinental Hotels Group
On the Importance of Middle America that Travel Brands Ignore 11:25 AM 11:40 AM Josh Lesnick, Chief Marketing Officer
Wyndham Hotel Group
Changed Nature of Travel PR & Communications in a Digital First World 11:40 AM 12:05 PM Kevin Shinkle, Senior Vice President, Chief Communications Officer
Delta Air Lines
Nancy J. Friedman, Founder & President
Nancy J. Friedman Public Relations
Moderator: Rafat Ali, Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Skift
Brand Talk
Sponsored by: Travel Channel
12:05 PM 12:15 PM Moving Images: Upping the Creative Game in Travel Video
Ross Babbit, Senior Vice President, Programming
Travel Channel
Lunch 12:30 PM 2:00 PM Workshop sponsored by: Underline Communications
Engaging Travelers with Personalized Messaging
Luke Daigle, Principal & Creative Director, Underline Communications
Brian Lenhart, Director, Digital Marketing, American Express Travel & Lifestyle Services
The Growth Hacks that Turned Startups into Giants 2:00 PM 2:15 PM Sasha Hoffman, Chief Executive Officer
Fuzzy Compass
Gillian Morris, Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer
The Evolution of the Travelogue, 1950’s and Into the Future 2:15 PM 2:35 PM Chris Collins, Co-Founder/Executive Producer
Zero Point Zero
Why Dining and Food is the Next Frontier of Disruption in Travel 2:35 PM 2:50 PM Greg Hong, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
On the Growing Global Community of Black Travelers 2:50 PM 3:10 PM Zim Ugochukwu, Founder
Travel Noire
Brand Talk
Sponsored by: Criteo
3:10 PM 3:20 PM How the Mobile Revolution is Disrupting the Travel Industry
James Smith, Executive Vice President, Americas
Networking Break 3:20 PM 3:40 PM Sponsored by Sabre
Emerging Worlds of Corporate and Leisure Travel 3:40 PM 4:00 PM Ninan Chacko, Chief Executive Officer
Travel Leaders Group
Moderator: Andrew Sheivachman, Reporter, Skift
Digital Habits of Air Travelers and What Brands can Learn From Them 4:00 PM 4:25 PM Michael Small, Chief Executive Officer
Moderator: Henry Harteveldt, Founder, Atmosphere Research Group
Creative Chaos: The New Future of Travel 4:25 PM 4:45 PM Nick Gray, Founder, Chief Executive Officer
Museum Hack and Company
Closing Remarks from Skift Founders 4:45 PM 5:00 PM Rafat Ali, Chief Executive Officer and Jason Clampet, Head of Content
Closing Reception 5:00 PM 6:00 PM Sponsored by Gogo\

And thanks to all the sponsors that made the Skift Global Forum 2015 possible: Adobe, American Express, Boxever, Big Bus Tours, CendyneOne, Cheapoair, Criteo, Gogo, HelloGbye, Hornblower Cruises, MasterCard, Mindtree, National Geographic, NewsCred, Sabre, SiteMinder, Travel Channel, TurkeyHome, Uber, Underline, Virtuoso, and Yahoo.


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