Events Industry Forecast: Flight Shaming and Other Travel Trends

Author: Convene Editors       

Travel Trends

travel trends

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg, a teenager from Sweden, is helping lead the movement to change airline travel to cut carbon emissions. (Adobe Photoshop illustrations)

Swedish teen Greta Thunberg gained international recognition in 2019 for her environmental activism, which included traveling by sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York. Time magazine put her on its cover in recognition of her influence on environmental issues. She helped spark the first of five travel trends some experts believe will change the industry.

Distaste for Travel

Flygskam, Swedish for “flight-shame,” has travelers taking trains, and even boats, instead of flights to help lower carbon emissions. Popular in Europe, the movement is catching on globally. Commercial flying accounts for about 2 percent of global carbon emissions. But emissions from international aviation are projected to be about 70 percent higher in 2020 than they were in 2005.

One of the most significant moves to regulate carbon emissions comes from the UN’s Corsia carbon-offsetting system, which would cap emissions at 2020 levels even as passenger levels increase. Airlines can purchase emission offsets to compensate for some of their own growth, or use lower-emission fuels. A voluntary pilot phase of 78 countries, including Japan, the U.K., and the U.S., will begin in 2021 — and by 2027, will become mandatory.


Look for more airports and airlines to follow examples set in 2019 by San Francisco International Airport, which banned plastic water bottles; Qantas, which flew a zero-waste flight; and Alaska Airlines, whose #FillBeforeYouFly initiative aims to get travelers to fill their own water bottles before boarding.


Cities still grappling with ride-sharing disruption now face the onslaught of micromobility, or e-scooters, e-bikes, shared bikes, and electric mopeds. This short-trip option is a hit with business travelers, who are increasingly adding scooter and bike-rental fees to their expense reports. The U.S. micromobility market is forecast to be worth as much as $300 billion by 2030.

Heritage Travel

With the rise of 23andMe and, heritage travel — people traveling to at least one country of their ancestry — is trending up. Airbnb announced that it is partnering with 23andMe to give heritage travel recommendations to its customers. A study conducted by Airbnb in April found that half of Americans have traveled to at least one country of their heritage, and that 83 percent of people in Argentina said they considered heritage trips more valuable than a normal vacation.

Millennial Travel

“Forget what you thought about millennials traveling on a shoestring,” said Karen Fuller, senior director of global market research, Vrbo. “Our results revealed that they are actually the most likely to go into debt for travel, which is consistent with the notion that millennials like to accumulate experiences, not things.”

Sources: International Air Transport Association Fact Sheet, European Commission, San Francisco International Airport, Carbon Brief, Qantas, Alaska Airlines, Deloitte, Q1 2019 SpendSmart Report, Statista, Airbnb, Travel Pulse

This post is part of Convene’s 2019 Events Industry Forecast looking at the future of technology, travel, lodging, and exhibitions.

People on the Move

As of January 2019, international tourist arrivals worldwide hit 1.4 billion, a rate reached two years ahead of forecasts. International arrivals for the rest of 2019 are forecast to increase 3% to 4% — more in line with historic growth trends. Here are some other travel stats:

  • 22.7 million: The number of international visitors who went to Bangkok — this year’s most-visited city.
  • 39.4 million: The number of global flights forecast for 2019.
  • 8.2 billion: The number of passengers forecast to travel by plane in 2037.

Sources: UN World Tourism Organization, MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index 2019, Statista, International Air Transport Association 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast

Changes in the Airline Industry

In “State of Play: The Airline Industry’s Tipping Point,” a member-exclusive report, Quartz identified issues the airline industry will face soon:

  • Shift East: In 1993, 73% of all air travel took place in Europe and North America. Today, half of the world’s 20 busiest airports are in Asia.
  • Supersonic Returns: At least three startups— Boom, Aerion, and Spike — are working to bring back supersonic flight (in Aerion’s case by as soon as 2023) with the goal of cutting flight times in half.
  • Impending Pilot Shortage: The number of pilots in the U.S. has fallen by about 30% since 1987, while the number of passengers has nearly doubled.

Best, Worst U.S. Airports for On-Time Flight Rates

For July 2019


  • Portland International Airport 85.34%
  • Salt Lake City International Airport 85.07%
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport 82.53%


  • Newark Liberty International Airport 63.83%
  • LaGuardia Airport 67.74%
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport 69.48%

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

U.S. On-Time Flight Arrival Performance

For January-July 2019

On time 77.52 %

Reasons for Delays

  • Aircraft arriving late 7.39%
  • National aviation system delay 6.21%
  • Air-carrier delay 5.53%
  • Canceled 2.29%
  • Weather delay 0.74%
  • Diverted 0.29%
  • Security delay 0.04%

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Top 3 Cities for Meetings and Events

The CWT Meetings & Events 2020 Future Trends report named the following cities as tops for meetings and events. The numbers in parenthesis show where those cities landed on the same list for 2019.

North America

  1. New York (2)
  2. San Francisco (8)
  3. Chicago (9)



  1. London, U.K. (1)
  2. Frankfurt, Germany (10)
  3. Paris, France (9)


  1. Shanghai, China (1)
  2. Beijing, China (3)
  3. Singapore (2)


Latin America

  1. Sao Paulo, Brazil (1)
  2. Bogota, Colombia (3)
  3. Lima, Peru (6)

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