We talked with Rafat Ali, founder of travel news site Skift, on what’s shaping the industry.
Q: What’s on the horizon for travel this year?
A: The use of design to enhance the experience. You’ll see a lot more of this in the future, whether it’s airports that help people move through them more easily or hotels that incorporate smart and simple elements. Electric outlets where people can reach them is an obvious example.
Q: Are there any industry developments you’re excited about?
A: Lower-cost international airlines that are coming to the U.S., like Wow and Norwegian. I think if Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways get a toehold in Europe, then it’s game over for current transatlantic flights out of the U.S. These airlines would come in with amenities and price cuts.
Q: What travel problem would you like to see addressed?
A: People are tired of nontransparent airfare. Why should we have to be on top of when to book tickets, whether it’s on a Tuesday or Sunday?
Q: Which trend needs to go away?
A: There’s too much focus on millennials. I believe in focusing on a certain mind-set—that of the modern traveler. I like better gyms and free Wi-Fi, and that hotel lobbies are becoming more social. But all that points to something beyond just one age group.
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.