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Catering to the 3 Travel Trends of 2024 

November 23, 2023

Many wonder what the travel outlook will be for 2024 as the world still grapples with economic uncertainty and rising costs for flights, food, and accommodations. Though travel will be shaped by people’s desire to manage their budgets, it won’t necessarily equate to fewer trips. Over 60% of Americans are willing to spend more on travel this year by cutting back in other areas, and frugality has led to the rise of whole new travel segments as people search for greater value and more meaningful experiences that are worth the cost. Let’s see what three travel trends will dominate throughout 2024 and how brands can cater to the new era of budget-conscious travel. 

A Peek into the Travel Trends of 2024

The outlook for 2024 is good, despite rising prices. Will people be traveling? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” In 2024, air travel is finally expected to either be on par, or even surpass, its 2019 traffic levels, with 9.4 billion passengers expected globally. The Latin America and Caribbean region will be the first to see this spike in traffic, with an estimated 707 million passengers headed for sunnier shores in search of rest, relaxation, and unique cultural experiences.  

Though the rising cost of living is on everyone’s minds, it doesn’t seem to be dampening people’s interest in leisure travel. In a recent survey, 85% of U.S. travelers still plan to take the same number of trips in 2024, if not more, and 42% said they would even take on debt to do so. However, the pressure on household budgets is changing the way people plan their vacations. Nearly 70% have had to adjust their plans due to higher prices. Over 73% of Millennials have found ways to combine business and leisure travel to offset costs. While 16% say the price of hotel often determines their choice of destination.  

This has led to unique travel choices and the rise of some intriguing new travel segments which we can expect to see more of in 2024. 

The Luxe for Less Traveler 

Vacationers may be more price conscious in 2024, but they’re also finding ingenious ways to live the “luxe” lifestyle, at least part of the time. Some are doing this by looking for destinations where the cost of living is less expensive than their hometown. According to a recent survey by Booking.com, 43% of U.S. travelers admit to looking for destination “dupes” – a name made viral on TikTok – which are more affordable alternatives to popular travel destinations. These copycat options offer similar cultural experiences, but often with fewer crowds, lower costs, and a few interesting surprises that make for unique stays. In fact, searches for lesser-known places like Curacao, Perth and Liverpool have doubled this past year.  

“Luxe for Less” travelers are also seeking 5-star amenities, yet they’re being selective about when and where they access them. Instead of booking into a luxury hotel, over 50% plan to pay for day passes only, so they can use the amenities. Families are also looking at traveling off-season (47%), to take advantage of price breaks at popular resorts, even if that means taking kids out of school for a few days. weeks. Some travelers are opting to spend less on accommodations, but more on their flights. In 2024, almost 40% of travelers intend to purchase upgraded air fares or lounge access, to make their trip more comfortable. 

Authentic Experience Seekers 

While travelers are willing to spend more on once-in-a-lifetime experiences, with budgets stretched, they are also focused on getting the most value for their money. They don’t want to simply check off a list of attractions. They want to immerse themselves in the local culture and all that it has to offer. In fact, 40% of U.S. travelers rate the overall “vibe” of a destination as the most influential part of their destination or accommodation choice. Expedia’s research shows that terms like “Boho” and “retro” are cropping up more and more in people’s searches, with a jump of over 1000% over last year. Interestingly, there’s been a 125% increase in searches for more traditional cultural accommodations, such as Japanese inns, or even Moroccan riads.  

Instead of pure escapism, people are now prioritizing unique travel experiences (85%). They want to try the local culinary scene (64%) or learn about local customs and traditions (48%). These authentic experience seekers crave connection and meaning after the isolated years of the pandemic, and they view travel as an essential part of their self-care. According to Booking.com, travel has taken on new importance, with more than two-thirds of travelers saying they feel more alive on vacation and 68% want to bring that same energized feeling back home with them. For these vacationers, travel’s true value lies in its ability to offer immersive, life-changing experiences.  

The AI Adopter 

According to Expedia, the average traveler spends more than five hours researching a trip and will review over 277 pages of content. In 2024, artificial intelligence (AI) will be increasingly used to take some of the stress out of vacation planning by helping travelers to seek out budget-friendly options and cost-saving packages with one simple click. More and more Americans are warming up to the idea, as indicated by Booking.com’s survey, where over half of respondents said they were willing to let AI plan their entire trip. More than half of travelers (56%) would even like AI insights while on vacation, everything from potential upgrades to last-minute deals.  

This may be why many well-known travel brands have already launched their new AI trip planners and travel assistants. Platforms like Hopper and Skyscanner are already using learning algorithms to help detect the lowest airfares and hotel accommodations, saving people hours of research. But when asked whether this will result in the complete replacement of travel agents, experts say the technology still has a ways to go. Though it can increase the efficiency of trip planning, it cannot accurately convey the “experience” of certain destinations, which travel agents may have visited themselves. Still, AI is set to reshape the travel world and will be used more and more in 2024 and beyond.  

Value-Add Partnerships Will Be Key in 2024 

Value for money will not only be a major travel trend in 2024, but it will also be top of mind for travel and hospitality brands. With no certainties when it comes to travel’s rebound or growth, brands will be searching for ways to deliver the same excellent service, with better cost management, and partnerships that bring added value to the mix.  

Customer experience vendors can deliver great savings via outsourcing, whether it’s a full or partial outsourcing of customer support functions, such as hotel reservations, flight bookings, and VIP services.  Nearshore providers, like itel, deliver great value while keeping operations closer to home, which allows for better oversight and collaboration, as well as a deeper understanding of North American customers. 

While AI adoption can add greater efficiency to operations, it’s important to remember that while AI may help people locate deals much faster, many people still prefer to speak to a live booking agent when finalizing the details of their trip, especially when it comes to unique trip recommendations and more complex tasks, such as booking flights and reserving seats.   

Value seekers may be more time-intensive when it comes to trip inquiries and itinerary planning. As they seek out savings, they may need insights from trained agents who know the destination and the best booking days to net the biggest savings, as is the case with our Caribbean and Latin American customer care agents. We understand the value-seeking segment and can provide the personalized service that sets your brand apart. Our rigorous training programs ensure that agents are up to date on the latest travel trends, insights, and cost-saving tips.  

The important thing is to create an authentic and exciting experience from the moment travelers pick up the phone or email an inquiry, and to provide continued support for the duration of their trip. It’s what makes the investment worth it in the eyes of customers. Those travel brands that can cater to the value segment stand to do well in 2024, as people are still willing to spend if guaranteed a great experience from start to end.  

Learn more about how we can support your travel & hospitality brand. Click here.

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