2024 Travel Trends: Embracing Culture, Culinary Adventures and More
November 30, 2023
If you’ve started thinking about your travel plans for 2024, you’re not alone: across the industry, leaders are digging into how the landscape has evolved, and what is in store for the future. Based on recent consumer surveys from Skyscanner, Booking.com and Chase, paired with insights curated from FINN’s Consumer Lifestyle and Sports team’s daily conversations with media contacts across the travel industry, we’ve compiled five trends that we’re confident will shape travel in 2024.
Cultural Immersion and Authentic Connections Are Our Top Priorities
The pace of travel is slowing down as a growing number of travelers embrace the chance to more fully immerse themselves in their destination of choice. Immediately after the pandemic, travelers went in droves to the world’s most iconic attractions. Perhaps the result of large crowds and long lines, we’re starting to see a shift in how travelers experience a place, with a greater focus on spending time with local communities and traveling with intention. Destinations, attractions, and even hotels are embracing this shift, making it easier than ever for travelers to have more meaningful experiences. Last year, the Accademia Gallery in Florence unveiled a new lighting system around Michaelangelo’s David, enabling visitors to see a new level of detail. On a recent trip to Florence, my tour guide anecdotally shared that since the update, he has noticed travelers spending more time in this gallery.
Hotels are also doing their part to create cultural experiences and connections for their guests. Our Consumer Lifestyle and Sports client, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, offers ceremonial ritual experiences that are distinctive to each property. At The Leela Palace Udaipur, for example, the evening ritual combines folk music and dance of Rajasthan, telling stories of victory, love and heroism.
Culinary Experiences Continue to Drive Booking Decisions
It’s not news that food is a big part of travel. What’s new for 2024 is a fresh focus on local dishes. Travelers’ hunt for more authentic local experiences is extending into their exploration of a destination’s food scene. This will translate into a growing number of travelers seeking to taste the iconic dishes that can help them learn about – and connect with – local communities and cultures. Bonus points if these bites are totally unexpected – like Edmonton’s highly sought-after green onion cakes, which have been a staple in the city for 40 years.
The revenge travel trend of the last 18 months was in part driven by a combination of pent-up demand and a stockpile of points accumulated (and unused) during the pandemic. As revenge travel slows, travelers are prioritizing ways to make loyalty work for them, looking for ways to rebuild loyalty points/miles and use their affinity for enhanced and more affordable experiences. Delta’s planned changes to its SkyMiles program led to proactive recruitment offers from JetBlue and Alaska, while American Airlines recently announced a match offer for Delta and United members. Southwest and Frontier have also both unveiled changes to their loyalty programs. Meanwhile, credit cards also continue to compete for customers through their travel points programs, with Citi announcing 10x points for bookings via their travel portal through June.
Luxury Within a Budget
According to the Booking.com 2024 travel predictions, consumers are looking for affordable luxuries, whatever that means for them. In line with the cultural immersion trend, we expect this will translate into travelers seeking more personalized, private or small-group experiences such as St. Kitts’ recently launched Kittitian RumMaster program, which gives travelers a chance to get to know two local rum experts, learn about rum’s rich history on the island, and try their hand at rum blending. We expect this will also lead to growth in hotel room upgrades and preferred seats on planes.
Meet Gig-Tripping, the New Version of Set-Jetting
Traveling for a concert or festival has entered the mainstream vernacular thanks to the Taylor Swift effect, and Skyscanner lists gig-tripping as the top travel trend of 2024. We’re here for it – for the fun of connecting with people around the world around a shared love of a particular artist, and also for the variety of destinations unlocked by a new tour schedule. Look for us next summer at St. Kitts’ annual Music Festival and at Bruce Springsteen’s 2024 summer tour abroad.