As 2023 draws to a close, we reflect on the year and start turning our thoughts toward the future. The focus of travel has shifted, as people are putting greater emphasis on connecting with places and exploring thoughtfully. Sustainability continues to be a focus for 2024, with Booking.com reporting that 64% of travelers are keen to travel more sustainably.
The last-minute travel preparations and impulse-driven vacations we saw throughout the pandemic have been replaced with careful planning. For example, recent research by Hilton revealed that the majority of UK travelers (55%) are booking their vacations three to six months in advance, demonstrating a more considered approach to trip planning for 2024.
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
- The Wholehearted Traveler: Travelers in 2024 are seeking purpose, meaning, impact and connection, and are more open to experiential travel. According to a survey undertaken by Design Hotels, 63% of people are willing to invest more money in “out-of-the-ordinary experiences.”
- Ecotourism: In an editor’s letter by Lisa Grainger (Times LUXX), she reflects on sustainability being the key topic spoken about at every luxury event she has attended this year. Following a year of vicious storms, hot summers and torrential rain showers; the need for change has never been more important. According to a report from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and Trip.com Group, 69% of travelers are actively seeking sustainable travel options in 2024, and there’s no sign of this trend slowing down.
- Wellness Travel: A trend that will continue into 2024 is wellness getaways or transformational trips. Many travelers today want to return from their trips as better versions of themselves. As a result, there’s a growing trend for seeking out vacations that combine experiences that boost our health and well-being. Design Hotels reports that travelers are seeking healing escapes that address mental and emotional health. eDreams ODIGEO’s recent poll revealed that 63% of global travelers believe that travel has a positive impact on their mental health, and 42% report the importance of “relaxing or doing nothing” while traveling – though 24% of all respondents in the youngest age group (18–24) reported that adventurous activities were most effective for their mental well-being.
- Generation Generative AI: In 2023, only 6% of U.S. travelers reported utilizing conversational AI for trip planning. However, insights from a worldwide survey conducted by Expedia Group suggest a potentially significant surge in this trend. Approximately 40% of respondents express a newfound willingness to employ generative AI for locating accommodations or vacation rentals. Additionally, a third of participants would consider its use for comparing flight options or seeking travel inspiration, while 35% are open to leveraging it for discovering activities and things to do.
- Loyalty Programs: Customers today seek both deep emotional loyalty as well as relevant value propositions that bring concrete gains. Skift reports that travelers are grappling with fears of a potential recession and other economic challenges and seek travel and hospitality experiences that provide greater value, top-tier products and services, and monetary incentives based on their loyalty.
- Group Travel: Whether traveling with extended family on a multigenerational trip or with a group of friends, there continues to be a surge in group travel. As reported by Forbes, the rise in group travel is fueled by an increase in remote nomadic life and people not seeing friends and family so regularly, which has been a catalyst for us to prioritize getting together to do something meaningful with loved ones.
- Solo Travel: Solo travel is booming right now, with Intrepid Travel highlighting that about half of its UK customers are solo travelers, and 67% of its solo travelers are women, as reported by Travel Weekly. A new eDreams ODIGEO poll of 10,000 people (launched September 2023) revealed that “being in control of decision-making” remained the primary motivator (41%). However, women increasingly report that they are motivated to travel alone for “self-discovery” (34%).
- Tour Tourism: In 2023, the influence of “the Swiftie effect” and Beyoncé’s global dominance marked a significant milestone in live music tourism. Expedia anticipates a continuation of this trend, predicting a “tour tourism” encore in 2024. Nearly 70% of surveyed travelers express a heightened inclination to attend concerts outside their hometown. Additionally, 40% indicate a willingness to travel specifically for a concert as an opportunity to explore a new location, while 30% cite the allure of cheaper tickets as a motivating factor for their travel plans.
U.S. MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES AND SHIFTS
- Yahoo News joined the rank of newsrooms large and small facing reductions throughout the holiday season, laying off a number of staffers. (The Daily Beast)
- Disney is beginning to roll out a Hulu integration on its Disney+ streaming platform in a bid to bundle subscribers. The full launch is expected in March 2024. (CNBC)
- The battle over newspaper-style puzzle games is intensifying. Hearst, which publishes the likes of Cosmopolitan, Esquire and the San Francisco Chronicle, acquired Puzzmo, a puzzle gaming platform led by indie developers Zach Gage and Orta Therox. (The Verge)
- As X continues to decline as a place to post news, media companies have been seeking out alternative platforms to promote their work, and more are turning to Reddit. (The Washington Post)
- The job cuts at Condé Nast come after the company said earlier this month that it would lay off upward of 300 employees, representing 5% of total headcount, and take other cost-reduction measures. It’s not immediately clear which areas of the company are affected by the current round of layoffs. (Variety)
UK MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES AND SHIFTS
- OK! has appointed Lesley Jones the new travel editor.
- You Magazine has appointed Charlotte Vossen as acting digital editor.
- The Telegraph has appointed Gareth Corfield as money writer.
- Wallpaper* appointed Hannah Silver as art, culture, watches and jewellery editor.
- Metro promoted Claie Wilson to deputy editor.
- Country & Town House has appointed Francisca Kellett as the new travel editor, previously freelance writer for The Times and The Telegraph.
- Marie Claire promoted Ally Head to senior sustainability and relationships editor.
- Jennifer George has left her role as beauty editor at ELLE UK and Harper’s Bazaar and is now working as a freelance journalist.
- The Sun appoints Katie Weston as assistant head of news, previously senior reporter at the Daily Mirror.
- City A.M. appoints Rupert Hargreaves as news editor, previously deputy digital editor at MoneyWeek.