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With travel demand holding steady into the new year, Global Hotel Alliance’s new member survey uncovers the most popular destinations for 2024, the factors motivating travelers to visit them, and the hotel loyalty benefits they value most.

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Now that leisure travel demand is back — with business travel expected to catch up in 2024 — travel brands are looking carefully at traveler preferences and searching for clues that can shed light on the factors motivating traveler decisions.

The new “2024 Travel Trends” report from Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), a collection of 40 independent hotel brands with more than 800 hotels in 100 countries, provides an inside look at the travel plans and priorities of today’s travelers across 10 key markets globally.

“Overall, the survey confirms that travel is back and going strong, with no signs of slowing down,” said Kristi Gole, executive vice president of strategy at GHA. “Leisure travel remains the focus, and travelers are increasingly eager to see and experience new things.”

Where Travelers Plan to Go in 2024

Based on more than 10,000 responses from members of Global Hotel Alliance’s loyalty program, GHA Discovery, the survey revealed that most members want to explore new destinations more than visit destinations they’ve already experienced.

Japan and Thailand topped the list for global travelers, followed by Spain, Canada, and Hawaii, with Europe ranking as the most popular regional destination.

What Travelers Seek: The Ongoing Rise of Experiential Travel

Most survey respondents said they prefer to visit cities, followed closely by beaches, with less desire to visit the countryside or mountains. They also indicated their trip-planning decisions are increasingly driven by new experiences, activities, and cultural tours — and they’re looking forward to experiencing new things, including local foods and cuisines.

“Travelers are looking for authentic experiences in the places they stay, the food they try, and the things they do,” Gole said. “They want to see and feel the culture. In fact, cultural tours created exclusively for GHA Discovery members are the top booked experiences across our hotels.”

Across all regions, most respondents plan to travel more for leisure than for business, reflecting a relatively slower pace of recovery for the corporate travel sector.

“China has the highest average of business and leisure trips planned, with both being largely domestic or within Asia,” Gole said. “They also are the most interested in staycations, which has been diminishing in other markets, particularly in the U.S.”

How Travelers Find Inspiration: Social Media and Friends

Respondents cited social media and family and friends’ recommendations as top inspiration sources, with 75 percent of respondents saying they travel to new places after seeing friends’ posts.

“Brands can capitalize on this by tapping into influencers as well as making content easily shareable for guests during or after their stay, and even incentivizing posts, helping guests share their memories while gaining exposure,” Gole said.

Family and friends may have considerable influence over where members go, but they hold less sway over members’ accommodation choices. When selecting a hotel, members said family and friends’ recommendations are the least used.

How Travelers Choose: Hotel and Loyalty Program Preferences

Quality of accommodation and loyalty program benefits were cited as the most important factors when selecting a hotel. Members said they prefer using the hotel’s loyalty program website or app to conduct research, followed by online travel agencies (OTAs). They also prefer to book on the hotel loyalty website or app — except in North America, where members prefer the hotel’s direct website or app.

“Members want maximum choice with minimal effort within their preferred loyalty program,” Gole said. “Hotels should ensure they are leveraging the benefits of loyalty programs and maintaining the value exchange for customers on their loyalty site, such as having rate parity with third parties as well as offering member rates, which often results in members booking a higher room category, for a net increase in rate rather than assumed cannibalization.”

Respondents counted discounted member rates and benefits, such as room upgrades, among their most valued loyalty elements. In Europe, where members previously indicated that discounts were most important, room upgrades, early check-in, and late checkout were valued significantly more this year.

Gole is optimistic that travel demand will continue to rise as members discover more ways to experience added value through the GHA Discovery loyalty program.

“Leisure travel will remain strong in 2024, with travelers willing to go even farther to see and experience new things,” Gole said. “Brands and programs that have a diversity of destinations as well as properties that are more authentic and culturally distinct will have the advantage. Rates will remain high, but with the expectation that service levels and added value will match. We’re excited for the year ahead.”

In this report, you’ll also find:

  • Where members are most excited to visit next year, by region of residence
  • What indicators demonstrate the renewed strength of Asian outbound tourism
  • How members support hotels with their sustainability efforts

This content was created collaboratively by Global Hotel Alliance and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

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Tags: Global Hotel Alliance, loyalty, SkiftX Showcase: Hospitality, travel planning, traveler

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