Brand Innovators 2024 Outlook: Travel

Brand Innovators 2024 Outlook: Travel

Despite the continued impact of inflation, consumers will not hold back on travel in 2024. Sixty-four percent of global travelers said they will cut back in other areas of personal spending to prioritize leisure travel in 2024, per a recent study from Hilton.

As Gen Z and millennials continue to spend money on experiences over things, 2024 travel will be focused on trips to tell the grandkids about.

“More than ever, people want to experience life to its fullest and travel is at the heart of that,” says Liz Crisafi, global vice president of integrated marketing at IHG Hotels and Resorts. “Whether celebrating those special moments somewhere special instead of buying gifts to proudly achieve your status as a global trailblazer to experiencing a new culture that changes how you view the world.” 

Matthew Schlitz, general manager of Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards from Chase, agrees that new experiences will inspire travel among people who look to “celebrate their passions and hobbies.”

“This can look like traveling to enjoy your favorite food in a new destination to exploring locations from binge-worthy TV shows,” says Schlitz. “This was the inspiration behind our Destination: Love Sweepstakes—which saw thousands of entries in just a week after launch—and is a testament to the popularity of this growing trend.”

Michaella Solar-March, chief marketing officer at Graduate Hotels, also noted the popularity of “set-jetting” travel, as consumers looked to visit places seen in their favorite shows like White Lotus, Emily in Paris and The Crown. Concerts and big events also fueled consumer travel in 2023 and will likely continue next year. “Taylor Swift and Beyonce were major economy and tourism drivers in 2023 – that will almost certainly continue into 2024 and traveling for concerts becomes a driver for booking a full-blown trip,” says Solar-March.

As consumers seek experiences, they are turning to travel brands to help curate navigate travel and avoid the pitfalls associated with bad trips. 

“We continue to see high demand for a trusted resource that can provide one place to plan every part of their journey amid today’s complex travel landscape,” said Andres Barry, president, JetBlue Travel Products. “We’ve noticed a growing confidence among travelers in entrusting us with their complete travel experience. By providing our customers with services beyond flights, the JetBlue brand reaches a broader audience, not just as a great airline but also, a trusted travel partner. In 2024, leading travel brands will need to find new ways to engage and connect with customers, whether it’s on the ground, in the air, or at the destination.”

To support consumers in high quality journeys, expect to see travel brands offer a human touch, while embracing the support of technology. “The ability to deliver on those authentic experiences and how AI can revolutionize personalization and planning, will further define not only how we travel, but how we fulfill those traveler expectations in 2024,” adds Crisafi.

While consumers will continue to visit iconic places such as Paris and London, they will also likely be looking for less path-beaten destinations both close to home and afar in 2024.

“In 2024, we anticipate travelers will continue their quest for new, authentic destinations, seeking off-the-beaten-path locations that offer unique experiences and a deeper connection with local culture,” says Diana Plazas-Trowbridge, senior vice president & global brand leader at Marriott Select Brands. “While the desire for genuine exploration grows, for some, 2024 personal travel budgets may not, so our focus remains on offering a range of options for travelers of all types, allowing them to tap into their passion for new experiences without having to compromise on the quality of their journey.”

Consumers will continue to watch their wallets in 2023 and look for travel brands to offer value at good prices. 

“2023 brought back a strong consumer appetite for leisure travel, JetBlue’s routes to London, Paris and Amsterdam continue to see high demand from customers looking for new ways to access transatlantic travel at low fares without giving up great service,” says Jayne O’Brien, head of marketing and loyalty, JetBlue. “While we expect this momentum to continue throughout 2024, travel companies will need to continue delivering high-quality, affordable service and products to ensure customers receive the best possible value and experience in our economic environment.”