These Megatrends over the years transitioned from future outlook to facts. You could look it up.
Megatrends at Skift over the last decade of our existence have become the biggest annual franchise we put out. It is where we connect the dots across thousands of hours of reporting from our editorial team, and research and data insights from our Skift Research team.
These megatrends are how we see the travel industry unfold that coming year, backed by our research and an early identification of wider consumer dynamics.
Looking back on the annual megatrends that Skift nailed in its 10-year history, they seem so engrained and taken for granted that it’s hard to recall they were even questioned at the time.
But they were.
Here are 10 of the megatrends we wrote that aged nicely over the years and turned out to be on point:
Just about everyone still desperately wants Chinese tourists in 2022, although they are relegated mostly to domestic Chinese tourism because of Covid policies these days. In 2012, the number of outbound Chinese tourists had grown more than 17 percent to 83 million, and we wrote: “If you’re in travel anywhere in the world and don’t have an evolved and nuanced China strategy, you aren’t a serious player in 2013.”
2. Blurring of Business and Leisure Travel — 2013
In 2013, we couldn’t have envisioned Covid-19 and the extent to which business travelers, including digital nomads, roam the earth in 2022 mixing traveling for work and kicking back for vacation add-ons. At the time, we saw corporate booking tools as becoming much more online travel agency-like in content and design. While that has happened in fits and starts, the blending of business and leisure travel is undeniable today, and the only debate is how long-lasting and scaleable it will remain.
The rise of hotel soft brands with their local-infused personalities and Airbnb, which gave guests the ability to travel, if not live, like a local, are proof points today of the validity of this 2014 Megatrend, the Rise of Local in Hospitality. We wrote at the time: “Many independent and branded properties promote themselves as a travel experience, versus merely a place to sleep, to a growing range of travelers defining who they are by where they stay. Global hotel brands have more recently jumped on the trend.”
YouTube or TikTok, no matter the platform or style, brands in 2022 are connecting or reconnecting with their audience in ways that seek to evoke emotions. We wrote about the then-burgeoning Megatrend, Video Is the New Language of Brand Communication, in 2016: “Smart brands have learned that a customer’s feelings, in many ways, determine what they buy. Instead of selling hotel rooms and airplane seats as commodities, brands are learning to tell stories using video that create an emotional connection with a specific audience.”
It’s not uncommon for destinations these days to place limits on the number of visitors to parks or other tourism spots, and others to ban cruise ships, but the overtourism issue is far from being crossed off a bucket list of tourism issues to be resolved. We wrote in 2017: “We’ve been talking about overtourism since Skift launched in 2012 … It’s not all gloom and doom since various destinations are approaching their challenges from different angles.”
In 2022, especially after the advent of Covid, you can see it everywhere in hospitality and beyond. The penthouse suite isn’t good enough any more — unless it comes with experiences that can foster emotional or physical nourishment and makeovers. In 2018 we wrote: “the ultimate luxury lies in the transformational value of the experience and how it helps travelers become the person they aspire to be. In other words, the new luxury is personal fulfillment.”
7. Labor Shortages Force a Wake-Up Call — 2019
We saw it coming even before the pandemic, which exacerbated the labor issue has travel industry employees first got layed off, and many left the industry seemingly permanently for more lucrative fields. We characterized it thusly in 2019: “The dilemma for hospitality workers at the low end of the wage scale is that they often live paycheck to paycheck trying to support their families, and some chains’ business models seem to be based around outsourcing and not giving their workers enough hours to make ends meet.”
From Edreams to Inspirato and Selina, travel companies want in on those recurring monthly and annual renewals. But they have to reset their businesses to do so. We wrote in 2020: “Earning consumer loyalty means more than giving them rewards. Subscriptions and memberships represent a compelling way for travel companies to create lasting relationships with consumers.”
As parts of the world bake, Blackrock is one of the entities espousing a sustainable investment strategy — not to be politically correct, but with the idea that the benefits will fall to the bottom line. In 2022 we said: “Cutting carbon and greenhouse gas emissions aren’t new corporate priorities, but an urgency is taking hold … Investors are demanding more than greenwashing. New models are emerging with a keen eye on actually boosting the bottom line.”
10. The Financialization of Travel — 2022
Whether it is insurance-like price freezes on airfares or forays into banking, travel companies around the world are expanding beyond the trip-booking realm. As we wrote this year: “New forms of fintech services in assorted flavors and tied to the needs of local customers are becoming a must-have feature for many travel companies.”
Photo credit: Business and leisure travel have been blurring for many years but the pandemic accelerated the Megatrend. Pictured is a digital nomad working near a river. Skift