Skift Global Forum 2023

DMS x SKIFT Global Forum 2023

Carl Solomon

Harnessing the power of AI to deepen engagement, the growth of the hybrid work & play segment and holiday spend prioritised despite economic uncertainty - insights that are influencing our dynamic and ever-evolving industry.

At DMS we are passionate about remaining future-focused and visitor-centric. It defines our point of difference and is partly shaped by the invaluable insights we gain through our Skift membership and our annual pilgrimage to the SKIFT Global Forum held in New York. I attended solo this year with Charlotte (begrudgingly) holding down the fort back home. Charlotte will get her own back though as she is soon to jet off to London for the 2023 City National Place Global Conference.

Once again, I departed New York feeling inspired but also somewhat overwhelmed by the endless possibilities that lie ahead for destinations in Australia and the Pacific. This includes our existing clients (with whom we are already applying these insights), as well as many other destinations that have the potential to capitalise on the current and future trends.

Here are the key outtakes, which really resonated with me from the SKIFT Global Forum 2023.

The AI Revolution

Put simply, AI will be a huge disruptor and it’s happening fast. How we harness the power of AI to deepen our engagement with our customers and create truly meaningful and memorable experiences is the key to success.

AI, when used correctly, will enable a richer, more meaningful customer-focus, creating opportunities for greater personalisation and help the shift from the transactional to the immersive. This includes things like curated packages, offers and itineraries that reflect and are informed by consumer behaviour. The challenge for destinations utilising this technology is ensuring consistency across all touch points and avoiding silos created by different systems to interact with the same customer.

Digital concierge is one of the most powerful opportunities of AI and it will rely on quality content. The focus needs to be on building and implementing an amazing content strategy to ensure you show up consistently. In the context of DMS, we are already looking at how we can implement AI in our Ultimate Concierge and social media management services.

A greater customisation of experiences, personalisation and help to resolve or respond to customer’s issues instantly is another huge benefit of AI and a potential first step for many destinations into the technology.

The generative AI revolution should power a more meaningful and deeper engagement with our customers and visitors. However, understanding your visitors and guests, their motivations, behaviours, and barriers to travel will remain critical to building long-term relationships and loyalty.

The Hybrid Worker/Traveller

The continued growth in the hybrid of work and play segment was a hot topic at this year’s Forum. I feel like this had a strong connection to the wellness subject of last year’s forum, in the context of individuals placing a higher priority on holistic wellness of self when it comes to work, play and travel.

The work from anywhere movement – from short breaks and digital nomads to the continuing growth of ‘bleisure’ or extending a work trip for leisure, continues to blur the lines between work and play.

Insights at the forum showed that people will forgo other things when facing economic challenges to ensure they can still take the holiday. However, flexible working arrangements have opened the doors for more affordable long weekends or mid-week breaks. Customers are already staying longer (sometimes on the company credit card). There’s never been a better time to leverage this new-found flexibility for destinations.

This increased focus on the hybrid workforce and the market’s potential reinforces some of our ongoing work with a destination on the NSW north coast. Stay tuned for more details in the upcoming months.

The product is the product and should be represented consistently

8 more outtakes from many of the wonderful speakers at SKIFT Global Forum 2023:

The challenge for us is how we draw on these latest global trends and apply them to create solutions for Australian and Pacific destinations. A challenge we at DMS embrace.