Rafat Ali, Founder and CEO of Skift, shares his candid opinions with David and Catherine on the failure of governments to form a coordinated response to the crisis. He also touches on the infrastructural and societal issues across the US and Europe that are likely to slow down the travel industry’s return to normal. Rafat anticipates a new trend towards what he calls ‘radical localism’ due to consumers becoming far more aware of the 5- to 10-block radius around where they live—taking greater notice of those nearby smaller businesses and how they’re hurting.
In contrast to other guests on the series, Rafat believes price (rather than brand) will drive demand in the short to medium terms, while travellers will also look for cleanliness, space and reputation. As a result, he argues, vacation rentals are likely to come back first because we can drive to them, avoid crowds and control the cleanliness of the space (even if that means bringing our own cleaning supplies).