Skift Take

From travel marketing's AI-infused reboot to blended travel's entrenchment and the rise of Indian travelers as a force, Skift's 2023 Travel Megatrends are holding up nicely. That's a teaser for Megatrends 2024-style.

What is the future of travel? Answering that is Skift’s editorial mission, and the release of our annual Megatrends is core to that mission.

Our reporters spend months each year surfacing, discussing, debating and writing the top Megatrends we’ve identified, and we publish and present them in early January. This will be our 11th edition.

Skift 2024 Megatrends

Skift’s 2024 Megatrends events – taking place in New York City and online on January 9 and in London on January 11 – will gather travel industry leaders and creative types to hear and discuss these trends.

We have a good record of pinpointing the emerging Megatrends that the travel industry needs to reckon with.

Here, we look at how the 2023 Megatrends are playing out.

Blended Travel Comes of Age

We’ve been talking about blended travel since 2013. In the early days, road warriors were tired of the clunky corporate booking tools, and demanded easy platforms on par with Expedia or Travelocity.

Absent those more modern tools, employees were making unsanctioned business reservations outside of corporate booking websites on sites or apps such as Airbnb or HotelTonight, and they often tacked on a long weekend.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting remote working trend fueled blended travel’s coming of age.

In April, American Express Global Business Travel cited a survey where 80% of respondents in the U.S. indicated they were inclined to travel while working remotely.

Andrew Nocella, chief commercial officer at United Airlines, told analysts in October that many of the airline’s business travel customers were leisure ones, as well.

And U.S. News & World Report noted that remote workers expanded the Thanksgiving holiday period in the U.S. by working away from the office in their travel destinations.

India Becoming the New China in the Reordering of Asia Travel

India broke through as the largest source of Asia travel in 2022 for the first time, surpassing the number of trips that Chinese, South Korean and Japanese travelers made, according to IPK International.

Skift Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia this week pointed to a flurry of Asian countries seeking to make it easier to being in more Indian travelers. Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand have announced visa-free trips for Indians, and Vietnam is mulling a similar scheme.

Meanwhile, the number of international travelers visiting India or traveling outbound reached 31.4 million in the April to September period of 2023, just eclipsing the same six months in during pre-Covid 2019.

Don’t count Chinese travelers out, however. The Chinese government removed many Covid-era travel restriction early this year, and Asian countries outside of China have traditionally been favored destinations among these travelers.

Travel Marketing Poised for Reboot From Generative AI

While still in its initial stages, generative AI is indeed transforming travel marketing — and marketing generally.

For example, Trivago recently announced a new brand marketing campaign in multiple countries that employs just one actor speaking numerous languages — thanks to an assist from AI. The tech enables Trivago to replace close to two dozen actors it previously contracted with for its global ad campaigns. AI also enables Trivago, which does price comparisons at hotels and short-term rentals, to roll out new ads quicker.

Skift Travel Tech Reporter Justin Dawes said this week Microsoft and Amazon Web Services are developing AI-infused tools for the hospitality industry to ease the creation of personalized recommendations. In the short-term rental sector, companies are releasing tools to help hosts and other clients write copy and create social media posts.

“About half of destination marketing organizations anticipate AI having a significant impact on content creation in the long term, according to a recent survey conducted by travel marketing platform Sojern,” Dawes says.

Meanwhile, founder Matt Landau wrote in his newsletter Thursday that he switched to Hubspot as its email sender, adding that Hubspot offers “to rewrite the selected text, expand or summarize it, and even change the tone to match your brand.”

Big Banks Chase a Much Bigger Piece of the Travel Market

Banks and credit card companies are entrenched in the travel sector and are indeed increasing their foothold.

In mid-December, Jason Wynn, head of travel at JPMorgan Chase, told Skift that his company was on track to meet its 2023 goal of $10 billion in travel sales. He says Chase Travel is among the top five leisure travel providers in the U.S.

“I feel confident that we will grow and be at $15 billion by 2025,” Wynn said.

Credit card companies continue to roll out their own hotel collections, striking direct relationships with hotel brands to supplement the travel inventory they get from online travel agencies and global distribution systems. Credit card companies are expanding their airport lounge networks, as well.

Meanwhile, Capital One in August provided Inspirato with a $25 million convertible note. This followed Capital One’s $96 million investment in app-only online travel agency Hopper in late 2022.

Pricing Transparency Is Still on the Agenda

Following Airbnb’s late 2022 decision to show total price (excluding taxes) in initial listing displays in the U.S., we said that Price Transparency in Short-Term Rentals Will Catch Fire.

It hasn’t caught on like wildfire although some players have followed Airbnb’s lead. Still, if you view websites such as Evolve and Vacasa, you still won’t see the total price at the first view of the listing. Evolve does note that a $300 per night rate is “before taxes and fees,” while Vacasa merely displays a rate as the average per night.

More transparency in short-term rental fees, as well as in other sectors such as hotels and airlines, is likely on the way — at least in the U.S. — as the Biden administration is pushing for fee transparency. Europe has been ahead of the curve in price transparency for years.

Among other developments, the Federal Trade Commission is readying a new rule to combat deceptive fees, and two California laws will mandate greater price transparency, too.

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Tags: ai, airbnb, amazon, amazon web services, amex, amex gbt, artificial intelligence, capital one, chase, events, evolve, generative ai, hopper, india, inspirato, jp morgan chase, junk fees, megatrends, megatrends 2024, microsoft, skift, trivago, vacasa

Photo credit: Co-working is important to some Gen Z travelers in an age of blended, or bleisure, travel and hybrid working. Selina La Fortuna in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, offers co-working. Selina runs the Remote Year program, too. Selina

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