Curious which trends will drive consumer travel interest in 2024? Expedia Group’s “Unpack ‘24” report offers actionable insights to help travel companies align with an array of offbeat trends and connect with travelers.
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Much has been written about blended trips, shorter booking windows, hyper-personalization, and other macro trends that continue to shape the way today’s consumers travel — but what new and unexpected consumer travel trends are on the radar for 2024? Where will travelers find trip inspiration in the coming year?
In a new report, “Unpack ‘24: The Trends in Travel,” Expedia Group crunched the numbers from both first-party data and a global consumer survey of 20,000 travelers to identify burgeoning travel trends on the horizon for 2024.
“Traveler trends and booking behaviors are constantly evolving, which is why we continually look at our first-party data and supplement those insights with outside industry research,” said Cheryl Miller, senior vice president of B2B marketing at Expedia Group. “We give our travel partners a holistic view of how travelers are being inspired and influenced, providing them valuable insights so they can deliver the best travel experiences for their guests.”
Here, we share insights from Expedia Group’s research, revealing how travelers are finding their travel inspiration in new places and gaining the courage to wander from the beaten path. From TV-inspired tourism and adventures catering to sober travelers to affordable destination alternatives, here’s what’s shaping travel in 2024. We’ve also included some actionable advice for travel companies to capitalize on these trends.
Touring Popular TV and Film Locations
Today’s travelers are turning to their screens for inspiration. As popular shows and movies capture the public’s imagination, their locales are becoming the next “set-jetting” destinations. According to the Expedia Group survey, 53 percent of global travelers have researched or booked a trip to a destination after seeing it in a TV show or movie, and nearly 30 percent say these media are more influential on their travel plans now than they were in the past.
Streaming shows have also supplanted social media as the discovery platform of choice: Travelers around the world said streaming shows influence their travel decisions more than Instagram, TikTok, and podcasts, too.
With this trend in mind, Expedia Group compiled their first ever “set-jetting” forecast to highlight 2024’s up-and-coming destinations, including Thailand (inspired by the upcoming third season of HBO’s “The White Lotus”), Romania (inspired by the upcoming second season of Netflix’s “Wednesday”), and the Scottish Highlands (inspired by the final season of “Outlander.”)
Takeaway: Pay attention to the latest set-jetting destinations made popular by shows and movies so you can best connect your travel brand to them — whether you’re featuring related destination content or targeting travelers with a location specific promotion to capitalize on the interest.
Affordable Alternatives to Popular Vacation Cities
TikTok parlance has popularized “dupes” as affordable alternatives to popular products. In 2024, Expedia Group says travelers will opt for less crowded and less obvious “destination dupes” instead of popular vacation spots.
One in three global travelers — and nearly half of U.S. travelers — have visited a “destination dupe” before, according to the research. Affordability, deeper interaction with local culture, and the opportunity to support sustainable tourism top the list of reasons that travelers are choosing these alternatives.
Although they’re a little unexpected, “destination dupes” are typically more affordable and as exciting as the better-known locales. Expedia saw a year-over-year uptick in search volume for destinations like Curaçao (dupe for St. Martin in the Caribbean), Paros (dupe for Santorini in Greece), and skiing in Sapporo on the Japanese island of Hokkaido (dupe for Zermatt in the Swiss Alps).
Takeaway: Focus on the hidden gems of your property or destination in your social advertising and content, and showcase the opportunities in and around your destination that drive deeper interaction with local culture and support sustainable tourism. And if your destination isn’t a typical hotspot, use this to your advantage by sharing your unique qualities and experiences.
Alcohol-Free Travel Experiences and Itineraries
Alcohol-free living has become a cultural mainstay, from month-long stints like Dry January and Sober October to the preponderance of fully “dry” travel experiences like wellness retreats and sobriety-supportive resorts.
According to Expedia Group’s survey, the top reason travelers choose to drink less on vacation is to stay in control and feel better emotionally and physically. In addition, one in four travelers said they would reduce their alcohol consumption to avoid a hangover and more fully experience their vacation.
“One of the many reasons people travel is to foster meaningful connections and create authentic experiences, and we’re seeing travelers commit to being fully present and in the moment during their travels. As a result, they are seeking out travel brands and options that support this desire,” Miller said.
Forty-one percent of travelers around the world said they are likely to book a detox trip in the next year — that number jumps to 61 percent in the U.S. Half of global travelers (and two-thirds of U.S. travelers) said they would be interested in staying at hotels that offer easily accessible alcohol-free beverage options.
To help sober and sober-curious travelers discover new options, Expedia Group curated a list of exceptional “dry” hotels, including The Rhadana Kuta, the first certified halal hotel in Bali, and Wynn Las Vegas, home to a zero-proof cocktail program showcasing innovative ingredients like adaptogenic mushrooms.
Takeaway: As travelers increasingly seek health-focused vacations where they limit alcohol and prioritize wellness, make sure your advertising efforts and content are inclusive of these travelers, featuring copy and images focused on wellness activities such as outdoor nature options, exploration, and more.
Celebrating Life’s Meaningful Moments
In 2024, travelers will celebrate more than the usual holidays and milestone moments. Instead, families and groups of friends are planning more trips together than ever before, and want to stay together under one roof at a private vacation home.
One in four travelers worldwide — and nearly 40 percent of U.S. travelers — said they are looking for any excuse to get away with their loved ones. One-third of global travelers plan to take more trips with family and friends next year. In the U.S., one-third of travelers said they plan to take a trip or a weekend away every month.
Job-related achievements top the list of life moments inspiring this “go-ccasion” getaway boom. Still, the trend doesn’t stop at celebrating retirement, getting a new job or a promotion, or even quitting a position. Other unique reasons people are planning go-cassion group trips include pet birthdays and adoption dates, first date anniversaries, and even breakups and divorces.
Takeaway: Travelers are looking for any reason to get away in 2024, so play up how your vacation rental property is the perfect spot for a unique celebratory gathering. Offering shorter stays and flexible cancellation policies can also help encourage guests who are looking to book a non-essential getaway.
“Across all these 2024 travel trends, one clear throughline is the drive to discover unique destinations and craft personalized itineraries that cater to the specific interests of each individual traveler,” Miller said. “Travel brands have an opportunity to engage travelers through content that aligns with their travel preferences and lifestyle choices, and then deliver exceptional experiences in-trip.”
Other trends revealed in the “Unpack ‘24” report mirror that spirit, showing how technology, hotel vibes, and outdoor amenities will inspire next year’s travelers:
- Generative AI: Expedia Group predicts that travelers will fully embrace AI technologies like ChatGPT throughout their travel journeys.
- Vibe Check-In: Beyond searching for specific amenities or star ratings, travelers base their hotel choices on the overall vibe.
- Outside In: From cold plunges and fire pits to pickleball courts and rooftop terraces, outdoor amenities inspire travelers to book vacation rentals.
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