As we near the end of 2023 and start to look ahead to 2024, travelers are leaning into alt-travel, spanning every aspect of their travel decision-making: alternatives to air travel, lower-cost vacation alternatives and even alternate versions of themselves. According to the latest insights published by Booking.com on upcoming trends in travel, over two-thirds (68%) feel they are the best version of themselves on vacation.
The travel and hospitality industry will continue to answer vacationers’ desires for alternatives, with more sustainable “no-fly” tours available for those seeking responsible travel choices and more affordable luxury options as inflation continues to play a role in booking decisions.
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 AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
- Luxury for Less: After a post-pandemic boom, rising inflation and economic uncertainty are curbing travelers’ appetites for luxury items and experiences, as evidenced by LVMH – the bellwether for luxury – reporting a $117 billion loss in market value since April. Instead, we’re seeing consumers prioritize what Whole Foods is calling “little luxuries,” whether that’s paying for day passes at five-star properties instead of staying there (as reported by Booking.com) or indulging in a small, individual-sized treat at the end of a long day.
- Sun’s Out, Cool-Cations Are In: Heat-focused holidays are officially on the way out, after another summer of record-breaking temperatures around the world. Such conditions have led travelers to seek cooler climate breaks to refresh themselves, Booking.com reports. The company’s recent survey found that over half (56%) of travelers will use their holiday to cool down elsewhere as temperatures soar close to home, and the majority (51%) of respondents said climate change will impact their 2024 vacation planning.
- Traveling Without the Baggage: As the cost of luggage continues to rise alongside travelers’ climate awareness, traveling light is becoming increasingly popular, Amadeus reports. Hotel and resort brands, such as Hilton, are facilitating the shift toward a “suitcase-free stay” through rental programs for items like workout clothes and sports equipment. In addition to this, travelers are seeking to buy essentials from small businesses in their holiday destination to support the local economy and engage with the community, with the intention of having more meaningful travel experiences.
- Rise of No-Fly Vacations: Rail travel and road trips continue to rise in popularity as travelers seek ways to travel more responsibly and avoid the “flightmares” that have become all too common. Booking platforms such as First Choice and tour operators have ramped up their flight-free travel offerings, including rail travel packages and more in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. This rise in demand for no-fly travel comes as no surprise, with data from ABTA’s Travel in 2023 report predicting a rise in people traveling by rail and cruise in 2023, and TTG Luxury noting that the travel trade is embracing “slow travel,” e.g., flight-free travel experiences.
- Culinary as a Culture Conduit: According to new data announced at Virtuoso Travel Week, almost three-quarters (70%) of Virtuoso advisors have seen an increase in culinary travel, with 20% of clients booking trips with food and wine as the focus. However, travelers are moving away from traditional fine dining restaurants and are instead looking for unique experiences – think dining in a local’s home – and emerging gastronomic destinations, such as central and Eastern Europe, that connect them to the culture and traditions of the city or country they are visiting.
- (Alter) Ego Enthusiasts: Looking to the year ahead, vacationers will be leaning into being a different version of themselves. According to Booking.com’s latest travel predictions, in 2024 travelers will feel more alive by creating their very own epic alter egos on vacation, with more than a third (37%) making up stories about their real life when speaking to people they meet on their travels and more than 3 in 5 (62%) enjoying the anonymity of travel and the chance to recreate themselves. Travelers are looking to embrace new versions of themselves that they discover while traveling, acting as the main character in their very own narrative. The anonymity of their vacations elevates their confidence to try new things and shed some of the inhibitions they feel stuck in at home.
U.S. MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES AND SHIFTS
- Khushbu Shah has stepped down from her role as Food & Wine’s restaurant editor and will instead be freelancing and focusing on her cookbook (set to publish in 2024).
- Condé Nast Traveler has appointed Matt Ortile as an editor and columnist across both digital and print. He previously held positions at Catapult magazine and Buzzfeed. Hannah Towey, previously of Business Insider, will also be joining the publication as an associate editor covering travel and transportation news.
- WSJ. Magazine has appointed Setareh Baig, formerly from The New York Times, as their new publishing editor.
- Cosmopolitan has appointed Nicole Pasulka as their new senior features editor.
- Raj Rawal, senior social content lead at Tastemade/Tastemade Travel was impacted by the brand’s layoffs in late October.
- Hearst Magazines has appointed Lucy Kaylin as editorial director. She replaces Kate Lewis, who held the role since 2018.
- The Washington Post named William Lewis as their new CEO and publisher. He will assume the role beginning in January 2024.
- Kelly Clarkson moved the The Kelly Clarkson Show from Los Angeles to New York City.
- SFGate appointed Karen Palmer as their Los Angeles contributing editor, joining Farley Elliot, who joined the publication as their SoCal bureau chief in October.
- InsideHook launched their first wellness-focused newsletter, The Charge. Managed by Senior Editor Tanner Garrity, the weekly newsletter will focus on a range of topics, including but not limited to sleep health, healthy habits, nutrition and offbeat workout guides.
- Freelance Writer Joshua Glass, who contributes to Vogue, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among others, launched his own newsletter called Family Style that will cover food, arts and culture.
- PRSA announced they are now accepting submissions for the 2024 Anvil Awards. The early entry period ends January 18, 2024.
UK MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES AND SHIFTS
- The Times has appointed Claudia Rowan as commissioning editor on the travel desk.
- The Telegraph has appointed Greg Dickinson as acting deputy head of travel, covering Oliver Smith’s paternity leave until January 2, 2024.
- Tempus Magazine has appointed Shivani Dubey as digital editor.
- James Manning is no longer Time Out’s travel editor and is instead serving as a content editor for the wider publication rather than solely focusing on travel. Grace Beard has been appointed to take over his role as travel editor.
- OK! Magazine has appointed Helen Kelly, previously TV editor at The Daily Express, as deputy content director.
- Daily Mail has promoted Jessica Taylor to assistant editor of Femail at the Daily Mail.
- Daily Mail has appointed Eve Simmons, previously deputy health editor of the Daily Mail UK, to the health and wellness editor at the Daily Mail US.
- Wallpaper* has appointed Sofia de la Cruz as their new travel editor.
- Evening Standard has relaunched their website in a major revamp of the brand’s identity, offering a brighter, sharper and more modern design, which publishers say should vastly improve the user experience.
- Evening Standard has launched a new campaign to encourage more sustainable and responsible travel, appointing Juliet Kinsman as the project’s editor.