Two days full of information in New York, hundreds of ideas. Here’s the lowdown on three subtopics that caught our attention.
Industry leaders took the stage in New York for the Skift Global Forum this week, sharing their travel insights and discussing emerging trends.
On the agenda are candid conversations with CEOs about how their companies are performing as they emerge from the pandemic, plenty of speeches on the growth of blended travel and the future of work, and smart commentary on tackling the labor crisis. In progress.
But among the industry sound bites that more than 700 in-person attendees heard on the main stage and another 800 online, a few alternative themes also emerged, from the psychology of marketing to running a business. Here is a recap.
Build it up as you go
Frédéric Lalonde, the energetic CEO of Hopper, revealed how much he enjoys creating new products. The secret is to be bold and experiment – even if it means taking a loss. When asked which of his products were losing “a ton of money,” he said it was something new they were trying. “It blows up in our face every year,” he said.
But some features tested for a year may turn out to be successes, like its new hotel cancellation policy.
“The trick is to test it with a small group. You spend a lot of money on a few people. You figure out what you did right, and then you evolve. If you do it the other way, it’s bad,” Lalonde told the audience. “We have this subset of users interacting with us. We’re testing and trying to figure things out. It’s so wild, I don’t really understand what we’re doing here.
Lalonde, who is also a co-founder of the startup, said a recent flash sale took him by surprise. He sold “loot boxes” – treasure chests with a mystery gift, like a voucher – for between $3 and $14, as part of a promotion in Puerto Rico.
“We sold more loot boxes than flights that day,” he said. “People would come to me with this data, and I would say ‘it’s wrong, it’s not possible.'”
Find out what else Lalonde had to say here.
Get into the minds of guests
Coming out of the pandemic, online marketing continues to be a hot topic. Performance marketing was even described as a drug by one executive. But one speaker wants to tear up the rule book. For destinations like Africa, he wanted to know why the more the experience promoted is far from reality, the more expensive it is.
Dr. Mordecai Ogada, conservationist, conservationist and co-author of ‘The Big Conservation Lie’, asked why the travel industry was marketing Africa in a way that made the destination look like a scene from the movie ‘Out of Africa’. “.
“What exactly are we selling, and where does it come from?” he said. “If you go through our tourism experiences, they come from a place just over a hundred years ago… the hunting, the beautiful wildlife, the landscapes.”
But people live in harmony with wildlife, he argued.
“In all tourism material, especially safari tourism, you don’t see Africans in a peaceful context with wildlife, but that’s quite common,” he said. “And you don’t see the violence when we try to drive people out of wildlife areas, to make room for tourism. How real is what we sell? It’s a testament to the power of marketing that the tourism industry can still sell images taken hundreds of years ago, themes mostly based on Tarzan.
A lesson for all marketers is to make sure they sell images of what exists, and called for new standards and definitions, and to “include black people in non-subordinate positions.”
“And there are very few African Americans in marketing, they just don’t see each other. Almost all tourists from America are white. We need to question the role of the media in this narrative,” he added.
Management styles and etiquette, unexpectedly, came up frequently over the two days.
Josh D’Amaro, President of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, spoke about the need for leaders to keep their feet on the ground and stay in touch with all of their employees.
He said he spent as much time as possible in the parks, when he was not in meetings. “I will walk every corner of this park, the cruise ship or the store. And I’ll talk to anyone who crosses my path, whether it’s a cast member selling balloons on Main Street,” he said.
“From an industry perspective, as leaders, it’s important that we all do this. Show up, make sure you’re there, not someone who’s in an office pushing a few buttons. When you do it as a senior executive, you know what happens next. Everyone follows. What happens then is you have 170,000 cast members who see their leaders, trust their leaders, know who they are what they stand for.
Find out what else D’Amaro had to say here.