Report: Meet the Cities Changing the Way We Travel

Explore five cities leading the future of travel. With technology shaping urban landscapes, strategic tourism efforts become crucial. Through our “Meet the City” series, discover destinations leveraging smart tech and imaginative urban planning to redefine how we explore the globe.

Get ready to explore handpicked destinations, where culture, history, and innovation converge to shape the travel landscape of tomorrow. 

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Travel’s Tomorrow: What Trends Are Coming?

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Over the past years, we all have seen tech bringing big changes to the industry and shaping how we go places. What we know for sure: things are always changing, especially in a fast-paced industry like ours, where everyone seems to be hungry for what’s next. 

Yes – we love to talk about the constant tech revolution happening in travel – and we are not alone.

To start the year with insights about the trends that are shaping the future of travel, we went straight to the source: those leading innovative businesses that move the industry forward. They talked about things like personalized experiences, immersive travel, AI and more.

Tech is changing the way we travel – and we are very excited about it! We’re here to share their insights on the trends shaping tomorrow’s travel. 

Ready to take a peek into the trends we are excited about in 2024?

At The Social Hub we embrace distinctive, immersive travel and create stays that genuinely connect with our guests. We’re all about helping guests feel at home in a new place and making connections with the local community. Having locals around in our spaces gives our hotels a special vibe. We’ve noticed that bringing these communities together helps make society better.

For example, I learned a lot last year from our first Better Society Masterclass – an impact-driven learning format to empower the next generation of emerging social transformers; and hope to bring that piece of work to a wider audience in the future.
Charlie MacGregor
CEO, The Social Hub

As a company, we at Mews have definitely shifted from the traditional office-based culture to a remote-first company. As part of this, we see many more people traveling and blending business and leisure, but also using hotels for creative offsites. We will see this trend growing across many companies, and those hotels that lean in and listen to what these new guests need will thrive. Guests are no longer just looking for a bedroom, they want coworking and creative spaces (with great coffee!)
Matthijs Welle
CEO, Mews

One trend I’m finding interesting is the noticeable shift among affluent travelers, especially those in their 30s, who are increasingly craving authentic and “off the beaten path” experiences.

This demographic, which had previously shied away from adventure trips mainly due to concerns around comfort, is now becoming a target audience for a new wave of active and adventure itineraries. These itineraries are characterised by premium and exclusive offerings, including luxury hotels, exceptional accommodations, deluxe transfers, fine local dining, and carefully curated experiences led by popular hosts and experts. This trend is catering to a previously untapped market segment that is redefining the expectations of luxury in adventure travel.
Erika de Santi
Co-Founder & Chief of Experience, WeRoad

I can’t wait for the renaissance of international premium rail travel. A high-speed train service from Barcelona to London is at the top of my wishlist! Currently, this takes around 11-12 hours with three changes, but when it becomes a smoother and speedier journey it will revolutionize this popular business travel route, for myself included!
Avi Meir
CEO, TravelPerk

Digital transformation is the most prominent trend brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital technology has become indispensable for delivering hyper-personalized services and differentiated experiences. I believe such travel tech has emerged as a driving force that will determine the success or failure of the travel market.
Jong Yoon Kim
CEO, Yanolja Cloud

When I first started in the travel industry, it was all about bringing hotel inventory online, in Web 1.0. Since then, so much has changed but one constant remains: no matter how technologically sophisticated travel gets, the aim for the customer is the same: human connection and authentic experiences. GetYourGuide just uncovered that most travelers plan to spend the same or more on experiences next year – despite economic inflation. That’s remarkable, and the focus on experiences will transform the entire travel and entertainment industry at large.
Josh Montgomery
Head of Strategic Partnerships, GetYourGuide

No major surprise that the capabilities being developed every day in the field of AI will drive a great paradigm shift at many levels in our lives, and of course within the travel sector. We can already anticipate that website and app user interfaces will deliver a much more conversational experience, complemented by the frontend we are accustomed to today.

Preparing ourselves to be able to serve information at scale in a conversational manner is going to be a major ambition, and adopting the technology and its advantages will be an obligation. I also believe that in the coming years, we will see major progress in terms of augmented and immersive reality.
David Garcia
CIO, TUI Musement

Innovation through partnership will shape the future of the travel industry. Travel options are more complex than ever and we at Skyscanner have an important role to play right at the heart of the ecosystem to help both our travellers and our partners. Whether it’s working with Amadeus and airlines on NDC and sustainability, Microsoft and start-ups like Layla with generative AI, Amazon on business intelligence or helping tourism boards promote their destinations, we are collaborating far and wide to bring new ideas and fresh thinking to the sector.
John Mangelaars
CEO, Skyscanner

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Everyday Leadership in Travel: Habits to Keep in 2024

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Success in both life and work starts with good habits. While hard work, talent, and a bit of luck contribute to success, it’s the daily habits that really shape our path – helping us thrive and pushing businesses forward. 

As we kick off 2024, it’s a perfect time to reflect on what we want to carry forward in the year ahead. To get some insights from our industry, we reached out to some inspiring people to share the habits they are committed to keeping throughout the year – a roadmap for personal and professional growth. Some good inspiration for those seeking to make positive changes in the coming year, with the opportunity to shape new routines that can lead to higher performance and better outcomes.

For the New Year, I’ve got a couple of resolutions in mind. First off, I’m challenging myself to go extend the traditional ‘dry January’ and try for 100 days…  And then perhaps look forward to enjoying more craft cocktails and create memorable moments with friends. I am also desperate to wear my kilt more often – hopefully, us opening our first Scottish property in Glasgow will allow me to do that!
Charlie MacGregor
CEO, The Social Hub

I struggle like most people with procrastination. Recently when I have a big task at hand, I try to make myself do dedicate just 5 minutes to that task without distraction. Often I find myself 2 hours later completing the task, because once started I keep going. I feel incredible relief when I complete a bigger task. The first 5 minutes are the hardest, just bite the bullet.
Matthijs Welle
CEO, Mews

Walk, walk, walk. At least once a week, I’ll plan some time do do a 12 to 20 km walk in the nature. I always try to pick a new location to explore in my city or the surrounding area. This helps me to unwind and have some proper me time to fully recharge the batteries before venturing into a new and packed business week.
Erika de Santi
Co-Founder & Chief of Experience, WeRoad

Ask why and think in first principles. When someone proposes a new process, or whenever I hear “this is how we do X” I ask why. I do this to understand the real core reason for doing something, and then I take immense pleasure in cutting unnecessary processes and bureaucracy. It’s the only way I know to keep moving fast as a >1200 people global company.
Avi Meir
CEO, TravelPerk

You need to get into the habit of always making decisions based on hypotheses backed by data rather than relying on intuition. To develop this habit, it is helpful to look at the table of contents before reading a book and try to predict its contents.
Jong Yoon Kim
CEO, Yanolja Cloud

“I am a dedicated student, practitioner, and competitor of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. My experience in training and competition has taught me many valuable lessons in both business and life, but none more powerful than the concept that a black belt is simply a white belt, who never quit. In 2024, I’ll introduce my two young daughters to jiu-jitsu, and look forward to sharing the lessons I’ve learned through the practice. We all work hard and spend a lot of time in front of screens. I encourage you to (1) find an inclusive and supportive niche you’re passionate about that pushes you to continue to learn (2) block time on your schedule so that it is a priority (3) commit yourself to the growth journey and lean into the uncertainty of who you’ll be on the other side of it.
Josh Montgomery
Head of Strategic Partnerships, GetYourGuide

In recent years, sport has been my best habit; it helps me to disconnect between my professional and personal life. But this year, I have also made it a habit to wake up 20 minutes earlier and during this time I treat myself to an extra coffee, some music, and read the newspapers – it’s a calmer way to start the day. I will continue these habits into 2024.
David Garcia
CIO, TUI Musement

I don’t usually come up with new year habits, but rather try and optimize throughout the year. Why wait for the end of the year to change? That’s my habit.
Michael Riegel
CEO EMEA, Navan

I’m very focussed on the difference I want to make. So, I make sure to manage my agenda against my commitments and objectives. My top tip for the coming year: start your day with opening your calendar, not your email. Time is limited, email is unlimited!
John Mangelaars
CEO, Skyscanner

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Holiday Bookshelf: Insights from Travel Leaders

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We asked travel tech leaders about a book that genuinely influenced them, whether from a personal or business perspective. The result? A fantastic list of books, just in time for the festive season!

As we approach this special time of the year, it’s perfect for immersing yourself in a good read. Their responses offer a glimpse into the people behind their roles, presenting a curated list of inspiring books that have made a significant impact.

Check out their recommendations – maybe your next book is waiting here?

Humankind: A Hopeful History
My outlook on life was put into words in Rutger Bregman’s book: “Humankind: A Hopeful History.” I would definitely recommend reading it as a positive boost at any time. As CEO of The Social Hub, but also as a father, husband, friend (and more), this book continues to really inspire and enlighten me.

Charlie MacGregor
CEO, The Social Hub

The Power of Moments
I believe every hospitality professional should read this book, it really highlights how creating remarkable experiences is often not serendipitous but needs a real commitment and drive to build and follow through. As technology in hospitality allows for more automation, I would love to see more hoteliers take the new freedom and power of technology to elevate and drive really memorable travel experiences.

Matthijs Welle
CEO, Mews

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose
I received this book as a gift from my co-founder Fabio Bin in the early days at WeRoad. It shares the story of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and the lessons he’s learned while launching and running different businesses and in his personal life. On top of having an emotional and personal connotation to me, this book has become extremely intertwined with the story of our company. In his book, Tony focuses on culture as the key driver for company growth through thick and thin and puts customer delight at the center of everything. Out of these two concepts, that we felt were describing the way we were shaping our first community of WeRoaders and team, we built our very first draft of the culture manifesto of WeRoad. Every time that I read one (the manifesto) or the other (the book), I remember why it’s so important to fight and keep on working to make businesses capable of delivering “happiness” and unique experiences to people.

Erika de Santi
Co-Founder & Chief of Experience, WeRoad

The Bible
It is the center of our Western civilization and the foundation for everything that I cherish in life.

Avi Meir
CEO, TravelPerk

The Upside of Stress
I would like to suggest ‘The Upside of Stress’, because as a CEO, I have no choice but to face a lot of stress all the time, so if I try to overcome the stress every time, I may be burned out at some point. Thus, it’s necessary to acknowledge that stress is good for me as long as I have the right mindset about it.

Jong Yoon Kim
CEO, Yanolja Cloud

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, by Oliver Burkeman
The most impactful book I’ve read recently is Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, by Oliver Burkeman. Framing time this way offers a jarring realization as to how valuable it truly is. By choosing where I can make the greatest impact, I have to either delegate effectively or set clear expectations around my involvement. Personally, this way of thinking makes it easy to put the phone down, forget about email and Slack, and give more attention to my family, friends, and healthy habits. 

Josh Montgomery
Head of Strategic Partnerships, GetYourGuide

The Phoenix Project
A book recommended to me by a good friend is “The Phoenix Project”, which was inspiring for me professionally and also a very enjoyable read. Initially, I assumed the book would be more technical, but it turned out to be an adventure novel that can reflect the day-to-day life of technology in large businesses. From a more personal perspective, one of my books of reference is Oscar Wilde’s “De profundis”.

David Garcia
CIO, TUI Musement

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness
Nudge examines the choices we make and how we can apply behavioural learnings to encourage desirable outcomes. It’s a book I’ve found useful in my personal and professional life and a highly recommended read.

Michael Riegel
CEO EMEA, Navan

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Streamlining Reconciliation: 5 Best Practices to Optimize Global Payment Operations in 2024

FREE Report: Streamlining Reconciliation

In the fast-paced world of travel, managing finances can be challenging. This report simplifies this complexity by offering practical steps to efficiently handle fund flows across different systems – a common issue for finance teams in the travel industry.

You will discover how smart travel companies are simplifying their financial strategies in 2024. Together with Airwallex, we break down the five crucial areas of payment operations and provide straightforward solutions that can transform how you manage funds.

Sign up below to receive your free copy of our latest report “STREAMLINING RECONCILIATION: 5 Best Practices to Optimize Global Payment Operations in 2024”.


Catching Up on the Highlights: FutureTravel Summit 2023

That’s a wrap! Our second in-person FutureTravel Summit took place in the historical setting of Estrella Damm Brewery, and it was truly exceptional. The event was filled with captivating keynotes, enlightening panel discussions, and an exhilarating pitch competition featuring startups from around the world.

This year, we set out to unite key players propelling the travel industry forward – those deeply invested in its future and committed to staying at the forefront of sector innovations. Our vision was to foster interaction and dialogue, and we achieved exactly that. Panels featured diverse participants from various sectors, an eclectic audience, and invigorating networking sessions, all while enjoying refreshing beers.

The cozy and intimate ambiance of this year’s event fostered active engagement between attendees and speakers. Networking breaks were equally vibrant, with attendees enthusiastically forging valuable connections, creating a truly dynamic atmosphere. In addition, we had the pleasure of partnering with excellent sponsors, media partners, and collaborators for coffee, device charging, gifts, and exciting activities, adding to the overall experience.

Highlighting future industry leaders

In addition to spotlighting the innovations and trends propelling the travel industry, we showcased emerging talents and entrepreneurs in the sector. Among the event’s highlights was the Pitch Competition, featuring 7 finalists (selected from 240 applicants) who presented their businesses to both the audience and the jury. And the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the winner of the FutureTravel Summit Pitch Competition is…

Taking home the pitch competition crown and securing the grand prize was Namastay, a startup on a mission to solve online bookings and payments for hotels.

Namastay’s win comes with a remarkable prize package valued at over €55k which includes a spot in Scaleway’s Growth Stage Startup Program worth €36k; €9.9k in credits for an explainer video maker account of simpleshow, 1 year Guru Plan for SEMrush; €2k of Miro credits to be spent on every plan; Exhibition table at the EU-Startups Summit 2024; 5 week Fundraising Masterclass by Ennea Capital Partners, 6 months free of NotionPlus & Unlimited AI; and 3 event tickets to participate in the next edition of the FutureTravel Summit 2024.

Built in Paris, Namastay was founded in 2021 to bring more digital solutions to the travel industry, through an optimized booking and payment solution directly integrated into hotels’ websites. Namastay provides a seamless, engaging and fast booking experience (with Apple Pay and Google Pay), through their “one-click to your room” cloud technology.

Thank you to our sponsors

The FutureTravel Summit was only possible with the support of our amazing sponsors: 

IAAPA is the premier trade association representing the diverse and ever-changing attractions industry members from more than 100 countries. From amusement parks and resorts to museums and cruise lines, operators and vendors, IAAPA brings together professionals from various sectors to provide meaningful experiences for their guests worldwide. Additionally, IAAPA hosts global events and conferences that spread successful ideas and practices, as well as provide valuable tools that make businesses smarter, safer, and more profitable while delivering exceptional guest experiences.

Airwallex is a leading global financial platform for modern businesses, offering trusted solutions to manage everything from payments, treasury, and spending management to embedded finance. With its proprietary infrastructure, Airwallex takes the friction out of global payments and financial operations, empowering businesses of all sizes to unlock new opportunities and grow beyond borders. Proudly founded in Melbourne, Airwallex supports over 100,000 businesses globally and is trusted by brands such as Brex, Rippling, Navan, Qantas, SHEIN and many more. 

Amadeus bridges the gap between travellers and their desired journeys through various platforms including travel agents, search engines, tour operators, airlines, airports, hotels, cars, and railways. With over three decades of collaboration with the travel sector, they have honed their technology to perfection. Amadeus’s deep insights into travel behaviour, paired with their expertise in creating intricate, reliable, and vital systems, meet the diverse needs of their clientele. Annually, they facilitate connections for over 1.6 billion individuals with local travel services across more than 190 nations. Embodying a global perspective while maintaining a local touch, Amadeus is a unified entity present wherever their clientele requires. Their mission is to sculpt the travel landscape of the future, driven by a fervent desire to innovate and enhance travel experiences through superior technology.

Saffron x astara partnered to present the City Brand Barometer 2023, an annual study that evaluates global city brands through their promise, experience, and delivery. One of the world’s leading mobility companies, astara offers tailor-made, sustainable mobility solutions across multiple industries, backed by data intelligence. Saffron is an independent global consultancy dedicated to making brand memorable. Featuring bespoke, data-driven research from astara Intelligence, the company’s advisory division, Saffron’s City Brand Barometer will now investigate how mobility affects the experience and memorability of global city brands.

We are looking forward to keeping the conversation going online, and to see you at next year’s FutureTravel Summit!

Check out this amazing gallery we’ve put together of the event – if you were there maybe you can spot yourself?

Jacob Benbunan Reveals the Keys to Memorable City Brands at FutureTravel Summit

We are thrilled to announce Jacob Benbunan, the CEO of Saffron, as a keynote speaker at the upcoming FutureTravel Summit. With more than 36 years of experience, Jacob will bring a wealth of knowledge to the stage, having collaborated with esteemed clients such as Meta, Orange, Repsol, YouTube, Facebook, and many more across the globe.

In an era of increasing global connectivity, setting destinations apart has become a profound challenge. Jacob, together with astara, will unravel the insights from the 2023 City Brand Barometer. This annual study meticulously assesses and evaluates city tourism and business branding, shedding light on how places utilize branding to carve a distinct identity on the global stage.

The City Brand Barometer 2023 focuses on the impact and memorability of city brands, assessing their influence in attracting international businesses, investors, students, and talent. The report identifies successful city brands, highlights the best reputations, pinpoints underperforming global cities, and identifies potential future business hubs.

At the FutureTravel Summit, Jacob will present key insights from this year’s CBB and showcase the top-performing cities and their brand strategies for attracting business, offering a deep dive into the methodologies employed through the process.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Jacob Benbunan’s keynote speech at the FutureTravel Summit, where he will shed light on the evolving landscape of city branding and its connection to mobility and the travel industry. Join us to gain valuable industry knowledge and discover the strategies that make cities stand out on a global scale.

Check out the aftervideo of last year’s event and get a glimpse of what awaits you:

FutureTravel Summit 2023 Welcomes Sebastián Canadell as He Shares Insights on Mobility and City Branding

We are excited to announce that Sebastián Canadell, the Chief of astara Intelligence, will be delivering a keynote address at the FutureTravel Summit.

Sebastián, who began his career as a Naval Architect, is now focused on revolutionizing the future of mobility. Through astara, he is committed to combining sustainability and addressing social challenges, providing a blueprint for smart cities.

The City Brand Barometer 2023, a collaborative effort between Saffron and astara, focuses on the impact and memorability of city brands. This report examines how city brands attract international businesses, investors, students, and talent. It identifies successful city brands, highlights top reputations, pinpoints underperforming global cities, and uncovers potential future business hubs.

During the event, Sebastián Canadell will delve into the insights of this year’s City Brand Barometer (CBB),  highlighting the role of mobility in enhancing the overall city brand experience in today’s interconnected world. Saffron and astara will also present key findings of the 2023 CBB, unveiling the top-ranked cities and showcasing their effective methods in creating memorable place brands. 

Join us at the event to gain invaluable insights into the future of city branding and mobility. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn from Sebastián Canadell. Secure your place by registering now for the FutureTravel Summit.

Check out the aftervideo of last year’s event and get a glimpse of what awaits you:

Innovation in Action: Jakob Ipland at FutureTravel Summit 2023

We are thrilled to announce that Jakob Ipland, Head of Projects and Innovation at Wonderful Copenhagen , will speak at the FutureTravel Summit.

Wonderful Copenhagen serves as the official tourism organization for the Danish capital region, with a dedicated focus on creating sustainable tourism developments through collaborative efforts with both public and private partners. Their initiatives encompass a wide range of areas, including attracting congresses, meetings, events, cruise guests, new flight routes, and international marketing of the capital. Furthermore, they actively contribute to the development of metropolitan tourism, cultural tourism, new markets, and fostering new knowledge.

Navigating complex innovation environments, particularly within a city, often presents as a challenging task when it comes to nurturing innovation and enabling startups to flourish. However, as the Head of Projects and Innovation, Jakob has played a pivotal role in driving sustainable tourism forward within the Nordic Capital. His area of expertise lies in integrating sustainability measures, implementing cutting-edge technologies, and fostering the growth of startup initiatives. With a proven track record in business innovation, Jakob brings a wealth of comprehensive expertise in the domains of Customer Experience and User Experience.

Join us at the FutureTravel Summit, where you will have the chance to connect with over 400 travel professionals taking decisions on the future of the industry!

Check out the aftervideo of last year’s event and get a glimpse of what awaits you:

Democratizing Exotic Travel: Alberto Constans on Disrupting Travel Tech

We are excited to announce that Alberto Constans, Chief Growth Officer at Exoticca, will be joining the stage as a keynote speaker at the FutureTravel Summit 2023.

Alberto plays a pivotal role in driving the company’s worldwide expansion and growth. He has led the development of Exoticca’s B2B channels on a global scale, propelling the company to a leadership position in the travel industry by spearheading the digital revolution that redefines how people book and experience multi-day tours.

Before Exoticca, Alberto had various leadership roles at renowned organizations such as Vistaprint, PwC, Barclays, Banco Sabadell, etc. With his extensive experience across different industries and multifaceted roles, Alberto Constans brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership to his current position as Chief Growth Officer at Exoticca, where he continues to drive the company’s global expansion and growth.

At the FutureTravel Summit, Alberto will delve into the journey of growing Exoticca, sharing key learnings and insights. Founded in Barcelona in 2013, Exoticca has quickly emerged as a prominent online tour operator revolutionizing the travel tech sector. With innovative tech solutions and forging direct partnerships with trusted local operators, Exoticca offers exclusive travel packages.

Want to learn more about his journey at Exoticca? Join the FutureTravel Summit and hear from him, along with other esteemed industry leaders who are shaping the future of travel.

Check out the aftervideo of last year’s event and get a glimpse of what awaits you: