What if? Imagining four scenarios for the future of global travel

Yelena Ageyeva-Furman

Principal, London, A.T. Kearney

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We asked some of the best minds in the technology and travel industries to evaluate all the factors that are, or may soon be, transforming the travel industry. The result is not an attempt to predict the future, but possible ‘what if’ scenarios that are the result of a number of factors, including the most relevant global political and economic trends, technological advances, regulation, demographics and social change, and crucially, how they interact with each other.


“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past, or the present, are certain to miss the future." Decades later, these words of US President John F. Kennedy are truer than ever. Especially for the global travel industry. The latest Amadeus-commissioned study, What if? Imagining the future of the travel industry, undertaken by A.T. Kearney, looks towards the future at the key disruptors likely to affect the travel industry over the next five to seven years.


These four scenarios, and their implications for the global travel ecosystem, are the object of this paper. They include:


what if

  • Scenario 1 Picasso:

    Global economic prosperity drives growth in personalised travel offers. However, growing nationalism and security concerns fragments the world and the travel industry develops in a localised way. We called this scenario “Picasso” to reflect its Cubist, fragmented nature, which at the same time is highly personalised.

  • Scenario 2 Dali:

    What if the world became more integrated, instead of more fragmented? This scenario assumes that governments and businesses ignore protectionism to create an environment that allows collaboration between businesses and across borders. We called this scenario “Dali” because it is innovative, futuristic, and a little surreal.

  • Scenario 3 Warhol:

    In our third scenario, Asia grows but the West stagnates. Consumers become more price-sensitive and are unwilling to pay for personalised offers. Innovation flourishes, mainly in local or regional contexts due to strict privacy laws. Like Warhol’s famous depictions of Campbell soup, this is a standardised world.

  • Scenario 4 Bosch:

    In the darkest of our scenarios, nationalism and economic recession breed protectionism and distrust. This stifles innovation and keeps the travel industry fragmented. We named this scenario after the medieval Dutch painter Bosch, who had an unvarnished view of human nature.

The travel industry, like the world we live in, is not static. The scenarios outlined in this paper are fluid, and it is likely that we will move between them in the years that lie ahead. At the same time, the impact of the different forces at play will not be uniform across the industry. We hope this paper will allow the many players in the travel ecosystem to identify the challenges that lie ahead, in order to be better prepared for them.

Download a copy of the What if? Imagining the future of the travel industry study and let us know what you think.


Guest Post, Research