Tour operators have much to celebrate as domestic and international arrivals are close to pre-pandemic levels. But 2023 is ending and now they should focus on their business strategy for the next year by looking at the travel trends for 2024.
What are traveler’s priorities for next year? Which pitfalls to avoid? Which technologies will shape the industry? How can tour operators profit in 2024 and finally overcome the travel downturn?
These are some of the questions we will try to answer in this article.
This year in travel was marked by ups and downs, but on average, the sector has experienced more positive numbers than negative.
This is mostly because of the growing confidence of travelers in traveling abroad, the fast pace of the digitalization of travel businesses, and an increase in ad spending across the industry.
US travel industry ad spend growth outpaces other industries for the third year in a row, reaching $6.79 billion in 2023.
On the other hand, international travel has suffered from ongoing conflicts in different parts of the globe. In addition to the war between Ukraine and Russia, a new conflict has broken out in the Middle East, affecting tourism on a global scale.
Anyway, despite a harsh international scenario, the northern hemisphere has experienced a busy travel season. Most of it is because of the rebound of big travel markets, such as India at the end of 2022, and China at the beginning of this year.
According to UNWTO, international tourism is at 90% of pre-pandemic levels and is on track to fully recover in 2024.
Travel trends that gained traction during 2023 give us a hint of what to expect from the sector in the next year.
We can mention the popularization of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, the growing digitalization of travel channels, the consolidation of TikTok as a platform for travel inspiration, and the change in travelers’ behavior towards more sustainable practices.
Let’s dive deeper into these topics so you can better know the challenges and opportunities that are waiting for you soon.
ChatGPT and other generative AI bots are changing the way travelers and businesses interact. From asking for travel recommendations to offering customer assistance, people took this year to explore the capabilities of this new technology.
While 44% of travelers are using AI to help plan and research travel, tour operators can use it to:
No wonder the massive use of generative AI is a travel trend for 2024, and if you are not familiar with this technology yet, it’s better to hurry up and master prompt engineering.
The uprising inflation cycle that followed the pandemic and regional conflicts is still affecting the global economy, including the travel sector.
But this is about to change. Now that the confidence in travel has been restored, 64% of travelers are willing to save money in other areas of their spending to prioritize leisure travel in the next year.
In other words, tour operators should expect a rise in the number of bookings, and, to fight back against inflation, an option is to transfer the difference in costs to the customers.
The mix of high inflation plus the decline in revenge travel is pushing travelers back on their travel frenzy and forcing them to make more price-driven decisions regarding where to travel.
In 2024 visitors will choose to travel to destinations where they can stay longer and spend less, being hotel and flight costs determinants in their decision.
Portugal, Algeria, France and Türkiye were listed by Skyscanner as the best-valued destinations for next year with the most expressive price drop in flight tickets.
Faro had a 24% price drop, followed by Algeries (23%), Nice (19%), and Dalaman (13%).
To catch the attention of a more price-sensitive traveler, tour operators should adjust their price strategy to follow the change in the travel scenario.
Two groups that go against the previous trend are Gen Z and Millenials. They will not only prioritize travel in 2024 but they also plan to spend more with it, especially with culture and experiences.
The latest Hilton report shows that 47% of travelers plan to spend more on exploration and adventure, with Gen Zers and Millennials (52% for both) carving out more budget for these types of experiences than the other generations.
This reinforces the trend that travelers are valuing more experiences and connections over things since the pandemic.
All travel journeys start with a search on Google. Well, maybe this will not be the case anymore as Gen Z is turning to TikTok as their primary source for discovering and booking in-destination experiences.
The reason for that is simple, the platform offers up-to-date and quickly-delivered information. The result is that almost 40% of Gen Z is using TikTok and Instagram for search instead of Google, according to Google’s own data.
Is Gen Z your target audience?
So you should master the art of creating short vertical videos. If you don’t have time for that, don’t worry, you can always team up with influencers and/or invest in ads to make sure you will not miss one lead.
This is a travel trend that has been present for the past years, and it’s no different for 2024. Travelers are becoming more and more conscious about the negative impacts of travel, and trying to make more sustainable travel decisions.
These are: supporting local economies, reducing their carbon footprint, avoiding overcrowded destinations, and taking services from companies that have eco-friendly practices.
To cope with this trend, tour operators can take a few actions:
Investing in sustainability is an opportunity for tour operators to increase profitability while also having a positive social impact and transforming the lives of locals.
Why does technology remain a strong travel trend for 2024? The answer is simple, digitalization offers convenience, personalization and flexibility, characteristics that travelers value the most when planning their trips.
In the search for a seamless booking journey, 80% of travelers consider booking online one of the top deciding factors when booking experiences.
As a tour operator, you can work to reduce the friction and stress of travel by offering an online booking option to your guests. That could be adding a booking button on your website or listing your products on an OTA.
Another channel that is emerging as a distribution option for tours and activities is Google. The tech giant has invested over this year in solutions to help its users find and buy experiences.
Following its project called Things To Do, Google now started showing ticket booking links on Search when people look for attractions and experiences in a certain location.
The travel landscape is evolving at a fast pace following major changes in the global scenario. One way to deal with these changes is to get to know the travel trends for 2024.
So what does the future of travel look like?
AI integration, sustainability, and personalized experiences shape the future of travel, revolutionizing planning and enhancing customer engagement globally.
Orioly can help you make the most of these trends by offering an online booking solution that will drive you direct online bookings and enhance the experience of your guests with a seamless booking process. Contact our support team today and get started with online sales.
on December 14, 2023
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