2023 was a year of travel like no other. Bucket list adventures were ticked off many lists, travel was a priority, and the industry returned to pre-pandemic levels. With over-the-top experiences and the need for thrills satisfied, what does the 2024 traveler want out of their precious PTO this year? The answer: what’s most important to them. Conscious travel at a slower pace with overall wellness in mind is the headspace travelers are in this year.
According to a study by Forbes Advisor, 92% of travelers expect to travel as much in 2024 as they did last year, with 40% of survey respondents planning to travel more. The study also revealed that younger generations, like Gen Z (56%) and Millennials (49%) are more likely to be jet-setting this year as opposed to Gen X and Baby Boomers.
Here’s a look at seven trends we’re tracking for clients that are shaping the industry and our 2024 media relations strategies:
1. Generative AI: The technology is booming across all industries and travel is no different. Planning trips has gotten a whole lot easier with tools like ChatGPT, from destination recommendations to where to eat when you get there. According to an Expedia survey, 40% of travelers are willing to use a form of generative AI to kick-start the vacation planning process.
2. Concert Tour Tourism: It’s time for an encore. Last year, music powerhouses like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé dominated the music industry and set off a race for fans to travel the world to see their favorite musicians in person. The trend remains strong with nearly 70% of travelers interested in traveling to attend concerts in 2024. Learn more about the phenomenon and how hotels can capitalize on it from other fierce Mower friends here: Rocking the Concert Travel Trend: How to Get a Standing Ovation from Guests.
3. Sustainable Travel: While not a new development in the travel industry, the desire for sustainable travel is seeing an uptick. This will be the year that travelers seek out ways to reduce carbon emissions, choose destinations that align with their values and offer opportunities to give back to communities, and prioritize sustainable food and dining experiences while on the road. A 2024 trends survey for (Mower client) Benchmark Resorts & Hotels’ nationwide portfolio supports this – finding there’s strong demand this year for business travel experiences that balance purpose and productivity, as covered by Meetings Spotlight. In the spirit of meaningful action and accountability, Travelzoo has even launched a global initiative called #travelfortomorrow to inspire pledges to make sustainable travel a priority for 2024 and beyond.
4. Astro Tourism: The sky’s the limit. Starry night skies are transforming travel with opportunities for travelers to witness once-in-a-lifetime events. It’s also an opportunity to admire the beauty of unobstructed, unpolluted night skies. The fascination has taken hold of the industry with hotels and spas creating opportunities, services and packages for guests to get their celestial fix. One Mower client, The Lake House on Canandaigua, is offering a Solar Eclipse Viewing Experience for the April 8 celestial event of the decade. Check it out on Travel + Leisure.
5. Sleep Tourism: This 2023 trend is carrying over to 2024 and has travelers in search of where and how to get the best sleep on vacation. Travelers are essentially traveling to sleep. Skyscanner’s 2024 Travel Trends report found that 50% of U.S. travelers are more mindful of their sleep habits than in the past and 44% of travelers are looking to sleep retreats as a solution this year. Hotels are taking note and have rolled out wellness packages focused on sleep and relaxation, the rise of sleep concierges, and even AI-powered beds. Expect to see an uptick as we approach March National Sleep Month.
6. Free Spirits: No more judgment. This trend, driven by Generation X, is all about living in the moment. Sometimes people want to drink and sometimes they don’t, and maybe sometimes they only want to drink a little. Travelers should feel free to go spirit-free with a growing number of restaurants and bars offering cocktail, mocktail and low-ABV options for all. The growing popularity of Dry (or Damp) January and Sober October, along with the many health and wellness benefits, has low/no alcohol options broadening with growing flavor profiles.
7. Burnout Sabbaticals: We’re tired – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. From social and cultural unrest to an unstable economy and heavy news cycles, Americans are burnt out. While the Great Resignation of 2022, in which a record 50.5 million people quit their jobs, was declared “over” last year, the effects are still spilling into 2024. People may no longer be abandoning their jobs to explore a new life baking bread in the countryside, but reprieve is still in high demand. Wellness or burnout sabbaticals are taking shape, intended to focus on rejuvenation and rest while (temporarily) pausing from work and other commitments.
What trend will you jump on this year? Whatever and wherever it is, make a conscious decision to travel to make a positive impact and most importantly, memories. There’s no better time than today’s National Plan for Vacation Day.