Travel 2024: Ins and Outs

Trends in Travel & Hospitality that Marketers Need to Know About Travel is growing and growing rapidly. For vacationers, the possibilities of ‘where to next’ are endless and it can be tricky to navigate marketing your destination or experience so it’s at the top of the list. Ultimately, travelers are considering facets of travel that haven’t always been top-of-mind when making their destination decisions, and it’s critical to understand the mindsets and values of 2024 travelers to help them choose the right destination—your destination. It is also important to understand how consumers make their travel choices as there are three critical components in decision-making.

  • Triggers: Triggers are an essential ingredient in choices, as they are the “starting point,” and reasons for why a decision is being made.
  • Influence: The who and what that consumers are listening to as they seek to make the best choices. Both rational and emotional factors will play a role.
  • Habits: Habits are the typical behaviors consumers gravitate to when making decisions that allow them to decide faster.

With that, let’s dive into a few trends that are already shaping travel in 2024 that will affect both your marketing decision-making and consumers’ travel decisions. Adventure and Travel image

Out: “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” In: Getting there faster with AI travel.

My dream vacation? One where someone else does the planning and I simply get to show up, grab a drink, and r e l a x. Travel planning can be overwhelming—from getting there, to accommodations, to dining, to outings—it’s a lot to prep on the front end. But as artificial intelligence (AI) becomes increasingly inevitable in every facet of life, it shines in the travel and tourism space. AI travel is like having a trip planner with you every step of the way. Use it to plan your flights and accommodations, suggest local gems (tailored to your interests!) for food and shopping, and even translate in real-time when traveling abroad. That’s right, as you read this, Samsung is working to launch live translation on their devices in 2024. And as with all machine-learning, your AI travel “sidekick” is always learning about YOU. What you like, what interests you, and ultimately, how you’ll get the most out of your trip.

Out: Going on the same old trips, doing the same old things. In: Travel experiences to write home about.

You go to the mountains—you go on a hike. You go to the beach—you lay in the sand with a cold one. Not a thing wrong with these classics, but now, travelers are learning the best vacations lie in the experiences— the unique, local activities that are all things fresh, new, and eye-opening they can’t get anywhere else. Along with this not-so-new but increasingly popular travel trend are a few new bits of vocabulary you may not have heard of. First, gig tripping. Instead of going to the nearest venue, travelers are choosing to go far and wide to that concert they’ve wanted to go to and planning an entire trip around it. Because when you score Taylor Swift tickets, you make it happen no matter where the destination. Gone are the days of a 2-hour-or-less drive to the nearest big city—we’re going abroad for the next show. Another buzzword that’s already trending—set-jetting. Folks are watching movies and tv shows with fabulous sets in destinations that look like a dream (looking at you White Lotus) and may otherwise never have been on the table for your next vacation. So, promote the hole-in-the wall dive with the shotty exterior and amazing tacos, entice travelers with the local beverage that has a scorpion in the bottom (okay, maybe not), let them know they can traipse around the lush mountainside looking for the hidden cove with unbelievable views. It’s worth it.

Out: Seasonal tourism. In: Cool-cations, non-peak travel, and Iceland.

Nothing ruins a travel photo like someone’s Aunt Sharon, a cluster of sweaty students, and handfuls of other tourists in the background. The remedy? Book an extra vacation outside of peak travel seasons or even try a place cold enough to deter the rest of the travelers. Think Alaska and Iceland. Beyond the breathtaking scenery and frozen ‘scapes, these destinations are much less crowded than Yellowstone in the spring. Similarly, travelers are more frequently looking outside of the typical visitation window when planning trips. Flights and BnBs can be cheaper, the weather can be milder, and the destination is often less crowded. For example, while going to the beach in the middle of summer is awesome, going to the beach in spring or fall continues to become more and more popular—you not only avoid the heat, but the droves of other families who are on their same old trips, doing the same old things (see what I did there?). On top of that, tourism boards say that slower travel is much, much more sustainable for the destination than overtourism. A win-win.

Out: Vacations that feel like work. In: Wellness travel (a.k.a. treat yo’ self).

The word vacation quite literally means “an extended break or period of leisure away from home or in traveling.” But if you’re not careful, vacations can be more work and more stress than they’re worth, and you don’t return feeling relaxed and recharged. That’s changing. Since the pandemic, and because of the pandemic, people are realizing the importance of self-care and considering that facet in every activity—even travel. We’re more and more interested in living to 100 and studying those who live in the Blue Zones to uncover the secret of longevity and life. One easy way to do focus on your well-being is to take a break and enjoy your leisure time on vacation. In whatever way helps them feel best, travelers are adding more elements of wellness to their trips. This could be a meditation session, yoga practice, a spa day, or really anything that helps them recharge and or feel the effects even after they’ve returned home. Like I mentioned earlier, experiences are increasingly popular in travel and experiences tied to wellness are highly sought after anywhere you go.

What does this mean as a marketer? So where does all this leave you when promoting a destination as a marketer or business leader? It’s simple really. People value their time away and value deeper experiences that leave a positive impact on them and the place they’re visiting. It’s all about showcasing experiences, promoting the ‘treat’ in retreat, and offering travelers an exceptional escape no matter when they arrive. Perhaps your destination already offers what people are looking for, but it’s all in how you adapt your marketing efforts toward these trends, ultimately leading to the decision to visit. When you combine keen decision making insights with the right message strategy, we just may see your destination on one of 2024’s ‘Best Of’ lists!