As we kick off 2024 and look forward to a new year of travel, the industry’s post-pandemic boom is expected to continue. Travel agents and tour operators have reported a significant uptick in bookings and increased travel spending, marked by a surge in demand in early January. According to The Advantage Travel Partnership, sales across its network of 700 travel agents increased by 75% compared to the same period in 2022. MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers® ‘Winter Edition’ also notes increased travel spending intentions for the next 12 months compared to last year, with travellers planning to take four holidays during the year, spending $4,388, an increase of nearly $750 year on year.
Event tourism is tipped to play a major role in travel motivation in 2024, with thought leaders across all sectors forecasting it as one of the top travel trends. Trip.com expects the eagerly anticipated 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris to be one of its most sought-after travel experiences.
The following is a summary of global travel and hospitality trends and industry shifts that our PR teams in the U.S., UK and Europe have compiled from recent media feedback, industry conferences, articles and webinars:
TRENDS IMPACTING THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY
- Flight Uncertainty – Various groundings and heightened media scrutiny may impact traveller behaviour, causing them to opt for road trips for their domestic journeys. In the U.S., all eyes are on Boeing as more issues have arisen with its 737 Max 9 model, including a door plug blowing out during a recent Alaska Airlines flight. Additionally, many airlines are still struggling due to pilot shortages (Skift).
- The Loneliness Crisis – According to Skift Megatrends 2024, travel companies are playing matchmaker amid the ongoing rise in loneliness and isolation. A big part of the rise of solo travel is travellers wanting to meet new people – so brands must be ready to help them build lasting connections. Christopher Elliott declared 2024 ‘the year of the solo traveller’ in a recent Forbes piece.
- Dry Tripping – Many travellers are trying Dry January and giving up alcohol for the month. But according to Expedia, it’s clear that living a low-alcohol or alcohol-free lifestyle is becoming more common year-round. More than 40% of travellers say they are likely to book a detox trip in the next year, and half say they would be interested in staying at hotels that offer easily accessible alcohol-free drink options. With the rise of mindful drinking, hotels and restaurants have expanded their menus to cater to the growing number of ‘sober curious’ consumers. New initiatives include food pairings that complement nonalcoholic drinks and minibar makeovers.
- Destination Dupes – Swapping the places you know for something new – but similar – is set to influence travel in 2024. The shift is a great way for travellers to seek out affordable getaways without any compromise while helping with overcrowding, particularly during high season. Bypassing the sunset-watching frenzy in Santorini for the undiscovered tranquillity of Paros is a great example. According to The Future Laboratory research, commissioned by Marriott Bonvoy, more than a quarter of the 14,000 people questioned said they are opting for ‘destination dupes’ this year.
•Sleep Retreats – Sleep tourism is on the rise, with 58% of travellers opting for getaways focussed on undisturbed sleep, according to Booking.com. Anticipated trends for 2024 include the proliferation of sleep concierges, technological interventions for improved sleep and the emergence of “sleep retreats.”
UK MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES AND SHIFTS
- Katie McGonagle has left her role as deputy editor of Wanderlust and is back as a freelance travel writer for titles including Travel Weekly, Cruise & Travel, and The Telegraph.
- Jacqui Agate has been appointed as the North American content editor at Wanderlust.
- Nick Redman at The Mail on Sunday’s YOU Magazine is now including travel content in the publication.
- Harry Kemble has been appointed cruise editor at TTG Media.
- Frances Hedges has been appointed deputy editor at Harper’s Bazaar.
U.S. MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES AND SHIFTS
- Complexities between legacy media companies and AI heat up as The New York Times sues OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement, claiming they built their AI models by “copying and using millions” of the publication’s articles (The Verge).
- Betsy Blumenthal has left her role at Condé Nast Traveler to join JPMorgan Chase & Co. as a senior editor.
- Both Nylon and Saveur are relaunching their print issues this spring.
- AAA shared that its readers prefer digital formats, and the most recent winter issue will be its last print issue.
- Shondaland announced it will be downsizing and will no longer publish original editorial content in 2024.