Two years ago, while working with executives from one of the top luxury brands worldwide, we discussed how the world would adapt post-pandemic. The concern was mainly at the time for travel retail which accounts for quite a surprisingly high share of international luxury sales. Without anyone traveling anymore in mid-2020, the stress level was high.
I'm not sure if we are post-pandemic per see but rather in endemic mode or just ongoing pandemic. That nuance apart, the world is more or less rapidly adjusting and new social habits like work from home are sticking around.
Back to airports, one of my predictions was that key hubs in Asia, probably Singapore first, will adapt to become safe travel meeting zones for international businesses. We monitored at the time some early signals such as secondhome.io that were already transferring medical clean rooms know-how’s to coworking spaces with air filtering HVAC systems, the use of Corian furniture for efficient disinfection and UV sterilization. And also, possibly, ways that digital health passports such as CommonPass could extend on top of the usual airlines' miles programs or biometric travel IDs. The intuition was that many weak signals were converging to prepare a global framework for Covid-safe air travel for VIPs.
Although, at the time, I totally missed that becoming more flexible in terms of passenger traffic would be key for airports, Singapore might just be kind enough to comply with my two-years-old prediction.
Bragging rights aside, why is that important?
Because the ones that put in this hard work of monitoring and trying to make sense of the confluence of weak signals, and are ready to hedge their current business with a few bets on the future, always come on top.
As I always underline, for large corporations, predictions are not about getting things right and sunk capital in a huge bet on the future. On the contrary, it's all about small bets, probing ahead, and starting to acclimate yourself to the future changes that are building around you as we speak.
When the future then happens at scale, activating key options comes naturally, and the turn-around is smoother, and you can then focus on the really unexpected outcomes with focus.
[ Aug. 24, Update ] Reinforcing this signal, classic business lounges are getting over-crowded...