Skift Global Forum

Online Conference

Coverage of 2020

Skift Global Forum 2020

Skift Global Forum 2020 — the flagship global conference on the business of travel — took place as an online International conference. In 2020, the “Global” lived up to its promise, with a live broadcast on Eastern Timezone and on-demand access the day after and onwards. The Forum featured talks with 40+ travel leaders spread over three days; accessible from anywhere in the world.

Through our 2020 global theme, “The Decade Ahead: Safeguarding Travel’s Future,” Skift editors led frank and transparent conversations focused on what 2021 and beyond may look like for travel. This event is essential for hearing how the industry’s leading business minds are working towards recovery and answering the big questions facing travel:

  • What parts of global travel are gone forever?
  • How has the pandemic accelerated digital transformation in travel?
  • What does the future of online booking look like, and can it drive a faster rebound?
  • Can hotels even re-open through uneven and unpredictable waves of return?
  • How will the airline industry ever be able to rebound from this crisis?
  • Where are the new travel tech innovators going to come from, and what parts of the industry will they disrupt?
  • Is the world better off with a travel industry that is, say, 20 percent smaller going forward?

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Companies Attending Include

What Attendees Say About Skift Events

We asked participants of Skift Global Forum 2019 for one word to describe the event. Here’s what they said.

View 2019 Attendee Snapshot


Why You Should Participate

Skift Forums are transformative to businesses and brands


Hear the experiences and strategies of major travel brands, insights from tourism boards, experts reinventing guest experience in hotels, and more.


Our agenda is jam-packed with opportunities to learn from experts, gain tactical knowledge, and understand the latest trends in travel.


From CEOs to startups disrupting the travel landscape, attendees will hear insights on how tech is disrupting the industry and adapting to consumer demand.

Who You’ll Connect With

Decision makers and strategists attend Skift Global Forum to learn from other leaders as well as their peers. Here’s a cross-section of who participates each year:

Online travel and travel tech executives looking to hear from the leading CEOs in their sectors and to connect with suppliers and customers

Entrepreneurs seeking to connect with decision makers to help shape their ideas and partner with their startups

Investors and business development executives looking to examine shifts in the market and assess partner opportunities for expansion

Hospitality executives exploring the evolution of service and technology partnerships that can improve their business performance

Tourism and destination professionals looking to understand their markets, new consumer sentiments, and learn best practices from travel’s most innovative leaders

Consumer and enterprise tech companies providing platforms and solutions that support the industry

Airline strategy and distribution executives looking to broaden loyalty strategy, understand new technology, and find creative ways to drive demand

Travel advisors and tour operators seeking new ways to surprise and delight their customers in an experience-driven world

Marketers and creative executives looking to inspire consumers and develop engaging campaigns to drive travel’s recovery


Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
4:00 PM

Opening Event: Travel’s Future Meets the Present World

4:05 PM

The Future of the Industry

With Barry Diller & Tom Lowry – Editor-in-Chief

4:30 PM

The Pandemic’s Paths Forward

With Laurie Garrett & Rafat Ali – Founder & CEO

5:00 PM

Adapting to A New Remote Work World

With Darren Murph & Rafat Ali – Founder & CEO

5:30 PM

Small Businesses Navigating Unique Challenges

With Geetika Agrawal, Muna Haddad, Stephen Cluskey, & Rafat Ali – Founder & CEO

8:30 AM

Conference Welcome

8:35 AM

State of the Industry Presentation and Panel, hosted by Skift Research in Partnership with McKinsey & Company

With Haixia Wang, Andrew Watterson, Mark Vondrasek, Melissa Dalrymple, Jules Seeley, & Seth Borko – Senior Research Analyst

9:00 AM

Taking a Long-term View of the Market

With Arne Sorenson & Tom Lowry – Editor-in-Chief

9:25 AM

How Can Aviation Responsibly Recover From This Crisis?

With Ed Bastian, Madhu Unnikrishnan, Editor, & Jay Shabat, Co-founder, Senior Analyst – Skift Airline Weekly

9:50 AM

Can Online Travel Lead Travel’s Recovery?

With Glenn Fogel & Dennis Schaal – Executive Editor, Founding Editor

10:20 AM

Finding a Path of Resilience and Brand Growth

With Keith Barr & Cameron Sperance – Hospitality Reporter

10:45 AM

The State of Digital Transformation in Travel 2020

With Brian Kirkland, David Peller, & Jeremy Kressmann – Research Editor, SkiftX

11:10 AM

Out of a Crisis, Leverage for Long-Term Airline Expansion

With Joanna Geraghty & Sean O’Neill – Senior Travel Tech Editor

11:35 AM

Staying Agile to Shifts in Travel

With Sébastien Bazin & Raini Hamdi – Editor-at-Large

12:00 PM

Breakout Session – Personalized Messaging: Driving Loyalty in 2021 and Beyond

With Jason Glas, Pauline Rigaudy, & Darren Frei – Editorial Strategist, SkiftX

12:30 PM

The Decade Ahead: How Destinations Will Adapt

With Elliott Ferguson, Gavin Landry, Clare Akamanzi, & Rosie Spinks – Global Tourism Reporter

1:00 PM

Laying the Groundwork for Tourism’s Sustainable Future

With Gustavo Segura Sancho & Jeremy Kressmann – Research Editor, SkiftX

1:20 PM

Preparing for Recovery: A New View on Leisure Travel

With Monya Mandich

1:35 PM

Designing The Future: Moving Beyond Wasteful Consumerism

With James Thornton, Neil Jacobs, & Cameron Sperance – Hospitality Reporter

2:00 PM

Fueling Growth Through Digital Transformation

With Jeanne Jones, Prakash Ranjan, & Matt Heidkamp – Creative Strategy Director, SkiftX

2:15 PM

Winning Back Traveler Confidence in a Fragmented Industry

With Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, Sven-Olof Lindblad, & Rosie Spinks – Global Tourism Reporter

2:45 PM

Why Small Businesses Are Essential to Tourism’s Recovery

With Suzan Kereere & Carolyn Kremins – President

3:00 PM

Managing Through the Industry’s Greatest Crisis

With Scott Kirby & Tom Lowry, Editor-in-Chief

3:30 PM

Adapting to an Evolving Travel Ecosystem

With Peter Kern & Dennis Schaal – Executive Editor, Founding Editor


9:00 AM

A Snapshot of the Global Travel Economic Travel Outlook

With Adam Sacks

9:15 AM

Fewer, Better Trips: Finding the New Bucket List Traveler

With Beks Ndlovu, Betsy O’Rourke, & Colin Nagy – Travel Columnist

9:35 AM

How Supporting Local Stakeholders Can Propel Destination Recovery

With Dan Holowack & Darren Frei – Editorial Strategist, SkiftX

9:50 AM

Rethinking Growth for Destinations

With Julie Coker, Glenn Jones, Keith Tan, & Rosie Spinks – Global Tourism Reporter

10:15 AM

Tapping Into Local Innovation to Drive Business Events and Resilient Communities

With Virginie De Visscher, Chantal Sturk-Nadeau, & Darren Frei – Editorial Strategist, SkiftX


10:45 AM

Building Technology that Improves the Human Experience

With Maya Leibman & Madhu Unnikrishnan – Editor, Skift Airline Weekly

11:05 AM

Leveraging Customer Data to Accelerate COVID-19 Recovery

With Joshua Neckes & Matt Heidkamp – Creative Strategy Director, SkiftX

11:20 AM

Digital’s Impact on Guest Experience, Growth, and Marketing

With Sooho Choi & Sean O’Neill – Senior Travel Tech Editor

11:35 AM

Digital Transformations and initiatives Stemming From the Health Crisis

With Atif Rafiq & Rafat Ali – Founder & CEO


12:00 PM

Breakout Session – Reimagining Global Payments to Strengthen Travel’s Recovery

With , Laurie Gablehouse, Gertjan Dewaele, & Matt Heidkamp – Creative Strategy Director, SkiftX

1:00 PM

Skift Research Presentation: Contactless Travel & Tech

With Wouter Geerts

1:10 PM

How Can Contactless Be More Traveler-Centric?

With Casper Overbeek, Julie Grieve, Deborah Pevenstein, & Sean O’Neill – Senior Travel Tech Reporter

1:35 PM

Creating Contactless Experiences That Resonate With Guests

With Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz, Ford Blakely, & Jeremy Kressmann – Research Editor, SkiftX


1:50 PM

How Loyalty Can Foster a Stronger Recovery for Brands

With Christopher Evans & Sean O’Neill – Senior Travel Tech Editor

2:15 PM

The Customer-Centric Future of Travel Tech

With Linda Jojo, Christian Selchau-Hansen, & Jeremy Kressmann – Research Editor, SkiftX

2:30 PM

The Coming Shifts in Travel Loyalty Post-Crisis

With Amy Weinberg, Danielle Brown, Dan Frommer, & Cameron Sperance – Hospitality Reporter


2:50 PM

How Hospitality Plans to Entice Business Travelers Back

With Federico J. González Tejera & Cameron Sperance – Hospitality Reporter

3:15 PM

Picturing a Corporate Travel Rebound: Smaller, More Efficient

With Eric Bailey, Clayton Nelson, Bex Deadman, & Matthew Parsons – Corporate Travel Editor