Connecting at meetings and events at the center of the Skift Global Forum

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Skift grip

According to industry experts featured at the Skift Global Forum, groups will meet in more second- and third-tier cities, with the main goal being to connect.

Andrea Doyle

“A golden age of travel” awaits us which will be a godsend for meetings and events. That’s what Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, predicted at the final session of Skift’s informative two-day Global Forum in New York, where he spoke. with Skift Founder and CEO Rafat Ali. Chesky also predicts that cities will not regain the popularity they had before the pandemic. “Once a city was the place to be. Now the place to be is the internet,” Chesky said.

Las Vegas, Rome and Paris will be replaced by some of the 100,000 cities and markets in which Airbnb is located. This is also good news for groups wishing to meet in a family environment but with a smaller budget. Second and third tier cities offer huge cost savings.

We live in a dystopian way as people are glued to their screens. “People need connection more than ever,” he said. This is good news for meetings and events that will focus less on getting business done and more on connecting.

Financial technology (fintech) products were also the focus of the second day of the Skift Global Forum. Frederic Lalonde, CEO and founder of online travel agency Hopper, attributes much of his company’s success to products such as one that lets customers pay a fee to check out of a hotel for any reason. Additionally, the company is working on a group travel product which we will report on in the coming weeks.

Lalonde said the company generates nearly 40% of its $1.3 billion annual revenue from fintech products. Nearly half of this figure comes from flight revenue, as Hopper is the third largest online agency in the United States behind Expedia Group and CheapOAir.

Peter Kern, Vice Chairman and CEO of Expedia Group, was featured in another session and responded to Barry Diller’s comments the day before in which he called working from home a “crock”. “There is clear evidence that it can work, but we have to make it work. If that can’t make it work, Barry is right; we should all be back in the office,” Kern said.

Diller’s frustration is fueled by the reluctance of Expedia employees to return to full-time work as a new $900 million headquarters awaits them. “Sitting in front of a laptop on a dining room table is kind of silly,” Diller said.

One of the most moving sessions of the day focused on Ukraine. Mariana Oleskiv, chair of the State Agency for Tourism Development of Ukraine, addressed the group saying, “Russia is fighting for the past. Ukraine is fighting for the future. His appeal to travel officials in the room was to help rebuild Ukraine as a tourist destination.

It’s duality, like fighting for the past or the future, that’s at the center of Potatoe Head, an Indonesian lifestyle brand with locations in Singapore, Hong Kong and other regions. One of the goals of the Potato Head brand is just that, which is vital in the culture of Bali. “Everything has to be a balance,” he said. Another company tenant produces zero waste as he sat next to a hotel chair he designed from ocean plastics.

Skift Meetings will delve deeper into many of the topics presented at the conference in the coming weeks.

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