Skift megatrends

2024 Skift Megatrends, London – Key Takeaways

One of the most interesting things about the Skift Megatrends event last week wasn’t just what they talked about but what they led with.

The impact of loneliness has been creeping up the agenda in recent years, and now the travel industry is tying it straight back to the unsocialized effects of both Covid and smartphones.

So significant is the ‘loneliness epidemic’ that it was the first trend discussed when Adam Armstrong, Global CEO of adventure tour company Contiki, took to the stage in London on Thursday.

He told us three important things. Not only are a quarter of adults ‘lonely’ but, in 2017, the amount of time young people spent in the digital world overtook the amount of time spent with friends. Thirdly, he and his colleagues are even now seeing changes in the behavior of young people when they take groups of 18 to 35-year-olds on trips. They’re taking longer to find their groove in a group environment, he says, taking three or four days to come out of their shells whereas, before, the icebreakers were done and dusted in a single day. That’s quite a change. They’ve noticed they’re not as practiced at social skills and “it’s taking much longer for them to settle”, said Adam.

The Megatrends event, hosted both in London and New York, is an annual mini-conference that uncovers what’s going to be big in travel and hospitality in the coming 12 months.

What also stood out at the event was a feeling that we’re on the cusp of something big. After a few years of dicey economic growth for almost everyone, some markets appear ready to catch fire.

Skift’s Peden Bhutia has been writing recently about the short-term rental boom to come in the Middle East, while Josh Corder has been looking at how Dubai is readying itself to be a major tourism player. Dubai desperately needs more supply because it’s “packed”, according to Andy Washington,’s group general manager for EMEA, but there are big ambitions to build very quickly. However, they’ll have to be careful to maintain standards, he warns, because high quality is what the country is known for and what consumers want.

Then there’s the Indian middle class, who are apparently now ready to make themselves heard on the world stage. Maybe one day they’ll rival Chinese consumers, who are already renowned for possessing enormous spending power. After reopening later than most post-pandemic, Chinese travelers are back with a bang, according to Andy, and that’s good news because they’re a hotelier’s dream. They are high value, 4 or 5-star travelers who book longer stays, and enjoy investing in experiences. More importantly, they are finally journeying to Europe again in great numbers, which is helping to lift the continent’s tourism industry.

So, elusive economic growth may not be far off, at least in the world of hospitality, and technology is going to continue to play a part in that.

It was significant that Andy focussed on how younger generations are using social media at every stage of the sales funnel, including the day before a trip and even after it was over, so companies are finding it easier to engage them all year round. This must speak to the power of social media influencers too, the marketing phenomenon that’s so well established it’s already due a rebrand — we were told they’re now known as ‘key opinion leaders’. Who knew!?

About Neil Millard

Neil is the managing director of Abode Worldwide. Neil oversees all delivery for clients and brings Fleet St know-how and more than a decade’s journalistic experience to the way we elevate the businesses we partner with.

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