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Top Takeaways from Skift Global Forum 2015

Posted November 9, 2015

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Emerging trends, thought leadership, and a gathering of innovators committed to changing the face of global travel. The 2nd Annual Skift Global Forum, touted as the biggest creative business forum in the global travel industry, brought together the heavy hitters in travel technology, marketing, and strategy.

As a leader in travel payments and partner with many of the attending companies, we at WEX Travel would like to share some of the highlights from this conference’s sophomore year.

Business Travelers Rejoice: Airplane Wi-Fi Looking to Get Faster (and Cheaper)

Spending a lot of time on a plane, business travelers still need to get a lot of work done. As highlighted in a recent WEX infographic, 1 in 4 get their best ideas on a plane, and 1 in 5 conduct business, and according to airline Wi-Fi provider Gogo, staying connected on the plane could get cheaper and faster.

In a session at Skift Forum, Gogo CEO Michael Small highlighted the company’s new and proprietary 2KU satellite tech would deliver Wi-Fi at twice the speed of its air-to ground system and at a lower cost.

This technology will allow not only faster connections for passengers, but also allow improved monitoring for an airline’s ground crew.

Learn more: Gogo CEO on Digital Habits of Travelers

Innovation—Even with Mixed Results—Is Pivotal

Technological innovations like Google Glass may have not found their place in the mainstream, much less the travel industry. However, Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger highlighted the company’s attempt to use new innovations like Glass as a small step to a major victory.

That said, as we move to the future of travel, those looking to thrive must find ways to embrace innovations like wearables, big data, and travel disruptors like Uber and Airbnb, among others.

Learn More: The Smart City and the Rise of the Mobility Era in Travel

Garnering Positive Reviews is an Art and a Science

For travel brands and travelers, the review process is an incredibly deep and complex web. Even if review writers only represent about 10 percent of travelers, nearly 90 percent of individuals will look at reviews of local businesses, according to BrightLocal.

With review platforms like TripAdvisor finding more placement among popular travel sites, getting an objective but positive review continues to be a top priority for travel brands. Furthermore, as highlighted by review blogger, analyst, and sociolinguist Camilla Vasquez, a management response to negative reviews is a path that organizations must tread lightly.

Responding to a negative review takes a thoughtful, brand reinforcing approach. Too often, management responses miss the mark and inadvertently disparage the writer, leading to a meltdown of insults thrown from brand to reviewer back to brand. Read more in the Skift recap of Ms. Vasquez’s session.

Bleisure Trending Upward

With workplace trends shifting and Millennials becoming the largest part of the workforce, ‘Bleisure’ is on the rise. With more mobility and access anywhere, more business travelers are adding a day or two to their trips for personal time.

Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group, covered the rise of open booking, transparency, mobility, and technology in his session. Learn more about his session on the emerging worlds of corporate and leisure travel here.

Read More: Clearing Up Blurred Lines in Bleisure

Keeping the Focus on Conversions in Travel

Conversion is the most important metric in travel, according to former booking.com CMO and current Priceline.com CEO Paul Hennessey.

From simplicity and personalization to the ability to reach new and younger customers who don’t watch TV, and a constant focus on the customer is key to engaging shoppers and increasing conversions.

Read More: Two Ways Travel Brands Can Resuscitate an Abandoned Cart

Conclusion

Even if Skift is young, and the Skift Global Forum is younger, the amazing turnout highlights the fact that the market goes to the disruptors, the innovators, and the best products and services.

Keep up to date with all of the latest in travel, technology, and payments by following WEX Travel on LinkedIn.

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