Skift Take

With hundreds of entries across 14 categories, this year's Skift IDEA Awards winners represent the innovations, design, and experiences defining the future of travel. Discover the 2020 winners and honorable mentions here.

Skift IDEA Awards are the industry’s recognition of innovation, design, and experiences defining the future of travel. Today, we are excited to announce the final results of the 2020 program.

With hundreds of entries across 14 categories, these brands and projects represent the best in innovation, design, and experiences across travel. Through architecture, experience design, technology, and timely strategic efforts, each of the winning submissions illustrate how a smart, human-centered approach to design results in more meaningful travel experiences, innovative business models, and sustainable solutions for the future.

Meet the 2020 Skift IDEA Award Winners below. You can click the links to learn more about the submission.

Accessibility & Inclusion
Presley’s Place by Pittsburgh International Airport

For kids or adults with autism and sensory sensitivities the fast-paced bustle of the airport experience can be overwhelming. In response, Pittsburgh International Airport created Presley’s Place, a 15,000-square-foot sensory-friendly space to ease the transition to travel. Inspired by an airport equipment operator’s son Presley, a child with Autism, the space is designed to evoke a sense of calm through comfortable seating, soothing lights, and bubble tube lamps, as well as a sensory room with a jetway and actual airplane seating to simulate the boarding experience and facilitate acclimation.

Honorable Mention: Accor – ibis Paris 17 Clichy-Batignolles

The Centurion Lounge, American Express’ signature airport lounge program, offers a premium experience for traveling Card Members. At 15,000+ square feet, the lounge at John F. Kennedy Airport is the largest and first two-floor lounge in the network, boasting first-of-its-kind amenities and a uniquely New York experience, including the 1850” Speakeasy Bar, elevated dining by Ignacio Mattos, Equinox Body Lab, and a distinct New York-inspired design.
Business Travel Innovation
Zeno by Serko
Built on the concept of the connected journey, Zeno aims to revolutionize digital travel and expense management through intelligent technology that provides freedom and choice within flexible limits. Through a research partnership with Google, they identified seven phases that make up business travel — Fly, Stay, Move, Eat, Work, Play and Rest. The vision is to bring the whole travel ecosystem represented by these modes together into a single, streamlined platform to create a unified itinerary. For travel managers, that results in greater compliance and lower costs.

Consumer Product
Self-Cleaning Water Bottle by LARQ

LARQ is the world’s first self-cleaning reusable water bottle, providing access to pristine drinking water on-the-go at the touch of a button. With a mission to end reliance on single-use plastic water bottles, LARQ’s UV-C LED technology is integrated directly into the bottle, neutralizing 99.99% of harmful, odor-causing germs through a photochemical reaction. Its self-cleaning mode intelligently activates the technology every 2 hours, basking the water and inner surface of the bottle in purifying UV light, keeping free of germs and clean on the move.

Contactless Solution
Contactless Stay App by citizenM

Hotel brand citizenM has transformed and streamlined the way its mobile citizens travel with a fun, free global app. With safety and convenience in mind, the citizenM app allows guests to pre-select rooms en route to the hotel, check in, open their room, request service, pay for in-hotel purchases, and discover local experiences. Due to its centralized set-up and owner-operator model, citizenM can deliver these services chain-wide, regardless of booking channel and with identical guest rooms at each property, the brand can implement hygiene standards consistently across hotels.

Contactless Solution:
Responsible Travel Initiative 
by Silvercar by Audi

In response to increased demand for car travel and local getaways, Silvercar by Audi launched its Responsible Travel Initiative, allowing travelers to adhere to social distancing guidelines while traveling with confidence and peace of mind. As part of the initiative, Silvercar rolled out two new product offerings: Contactless Rental, which offers travelers a touchless way to book, locate, and unlock Silvercar rentals via a mobile app, and Delivery to You, a service enabling customers to request that their Audi be brought to them and then retrieved from their preferred location. Prior to launching, Silvercar also initiated policies to assist customers with essential travel needs including no fee one-way drives and extended rentals beyond 14 days.

Designing Safety
The Leading Light in Hospitality Cleanliness by UVD Robots

Since 2018, UVD Robots has been combining technology and science to protect people from harmful pathogens and superbugs in over 60 countries. Fully autonomous and operational with limited training, the UVD Robot utilizes UV-C light to eliminate viruses and bacteria at a success rate of 99.99 percent. As a result, the UVD Robot fits seamlessly into the hotel’s daily cleaning routine, working autonomously as part of the team to keep employees and guests safe.

Destination Innovation
Renewed Destination Website by Kyoto Tourism

The renewal project of Kyoto Tourism Association’s website Kyoto City Official Travel Guide took place amid challenges imposed by both over-tourism as well as conflicting interests between the tourism industry and the everyday lives of the local people. This led to a reconsideration of the previous perspective of tourism based on “sightseeing” towards one that aims to provide people who are seeking to explore and enjoy the cultural context of Kyoto with “content and information from a local point of view.” The future of Kyoto tourism grounded on keen attention to the perspective of the city as it is loved by locals aims to bring a sustainable future to Kyoto.

Honorable Mention: Appnovation + Visit California – Road Trip Republic

Experience or Excursion
Sir Explore by Sir Hotels

Sir Hotels creates one-of-a-kind hotel experiences in some of the most interesting neighborhoods in the world through Sir Explore, a service that connects guests with locals. Each exploration provides a fresh perspective of the cities where Sir Hotels are located including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Hamburg and Ibiza. Sir Explore experiences are curated specific to the culture of the city – from touring Amsterdam’s nightlife with a local legend to learning about Ibiza’s native herbs with a local expert, there’s always something new to discover. Guests get to see a unique side of their cities and learn something new through trusted local hosts.

Honorable Mention: Accor – Fairmont Hotels & Resorts – Fairmont World Tour

Guest Room
Water Retreats by Soneva Fushi

Launched in September 2020, the Water Retreats at Soneva Fushi add a thrilling new dimension to the award-winning resort in the Maldives’ Baa Atoll. Each over-water villa has been designed to maximize a sense of space, solitude and luxury, as well as make the most of the incredible ocean views. Each guest room features a large private pool suspended over the ocean, and a curving water slide that goes directly into the sea. Catamaran nets hang above the clear turquoise waters, while extra roof overhangs increase shaded areas for maximum comfort. The new villas were created to tread as lightly as possible on the precious island ecosystem and were crafted using sustainably-sourced, ethical materials, in a location chosen for its lack of coral on the seabed.

Honorable Mention: SH Hotels & Resorts – Baccarat Hotel Guest Room

Hospitality Innovation
Sensible Sustainable Solutions by Bensley

Bensley is a small atelier of youthful, energetic architects, interior designers, artists and landscape architects founded by Bill Bensley. Known for integrating sustainability into all of his designs, Bensley’s focus now is to share his knowledge with the rest of the industry in hopes to band together and reverse climate change with Sensible Sustainable Solutions, a guide and set of sustainability standards which can be slotted into any hotel companies’ existing standards. With this, hotel operators, owners, architects and designers have clear cut guidelines on how to integrate sustainability into their operations, while often increasing revenue, reducing operation costs, and doing good for the community.

Honorable Mention: Butler Hospitality – Ghost Kitchens

Public Space
Tapping into Nashville’s Creative Spirit by Graduate Nashville

Drawing design inspiration from Vanderbilt University, local culture and the diverse and inspiring music culture synonymous with the city of Nashville, Graduate Nashville brings the city’s creative spirit and innate southern flare to life. Graduate Hotel’s design team works to uncover and incorporate memorable local stories and fixtures into each property’s interior, crafting a thoughtful, immersive hospitality experience for guests and visitors. The space tells the narrative of the city’s hometown heroes and innate Southern flare, creating a new destination in Downtown Nashville.

Honorable Mention: Accor – ibis Sao Paulo Expo Barra Funda – Plaza Lobby

Building a Sustainable Future for Unpaid Caregivers by Carefree

Unpaid caregivers form an integral and irreplaceable part of healthcare systems. An invisible backbone of the global economy with 45 million people looking after loved ones in the US and 9 million in the UK alone. Carefree is a UK-based charity partnering with hotels to transform vacant accommodation into vital breaks for unpaid caregivers. The platform enables the hospitality industry to provide this deeply underprivileged group with the break they need to healthily continue in their caring role.

Honorable Mention: Soneva Namoona – Intelligent Luxury

Tech Provider
Dynamic Room Upgrade Pricing by Oaky

Oaky is a hyper-personalized and automated upsell engine that helps hotels drive additional profit from existing customers by delivering a superior guest experience. How it works: Oaky receives trusted and secure data on all room types for the coming 30 days and then calculates the dynamic room upgrade based on the difference between the booked room type and available upgrades. The dynamic upgrade rates are automatically presented via Oaky to the guest before arrival, enabling a simple, streamlined purchase.

Honorable Mention: Guesty – Guesty Marketplace

Virtual Pivot
Design Hotels x Unsettled – Virtual Retreat

In collaboration with Unsettled, Design Hotels launched The Virtual Retreat – a 4-week long digital journey of self-reflection and personal growth. Designed to be a co-created journey between hoteliers and travel advisors around the world, this Virtual Retreat was an exploration of both personal development and professional expansion. The retreat focused on the future of travel and its emerging trends following the outbreak of Covid-19 and aimed to foster personal growth through creative education, personal goal setting sessions, and an exchange of industry knowledge. Most importantly, the virtual retreat created a space for consistent human connection, which many have been deprived of in 2020, and executed the project in a way that opens the door for new possibilities in the digital world.

See more: Design Hotels and Unsettled spoke about the Virtual Retreat at Skift’s Design The Future virtual event, which you can view here

Honorable Mention: Six Senses Hotels – At Home With Six Senses

Congratulations to all of the Skift IDEA Awards 2020 winners, honorable mentions, and shortlisted finalists, and thank you to all who entered!   

For more on design and innovation in travel, watch the on-demand recap of Skift’s Design The Future virtual event featuring insights and tactics from IDEA Award judges, creative leaders, and industry innovators.


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Tags: aviation, design, hospitality, innovation, skift idea awards

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