The Future Traveller: Booking.com predicts what travellers will be looking for in 2024

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2024’s travel trends reveal a shift towards adventurous, sustainable, and luxury experiences, with a focus on technology, eco-friendly practices, and unique, personalized journeys for modern travelers.

As we approach 2024, the travel industry is witnessing a significant paradigm shift. Travelers are increasingly seeking experiences that blend surprise with luxury, sustainability, and technology-driven convenience. Booking.com‘s predictions delve into the five key trends shaping the future of travel in 2024, offering a comprehensive insight into the evolving preferences of modern travelers:

  1. ‘Surprise and Delight’ Takes the Main Stage as Travellers Seek out the Unknown

Next year travellers will increasingly surrender themselves to the unknown and venture into uncharted territory, with over half (55%) keen to book a surprise trip where everything down to the destination is unknown until arrival. This potential shift in destination decision-making paves the way for lesser known locations and experiences:

Majority (58%) prefer to venture off the beaten path A third (37%) seek to travel with strangers Flexibility will be key with over half (56%) preferring to have no plans set in stone prior to travelling in 2024, while three in four (74%) opting to travel with loose plans so they can change direction based on what feels good in the moment – creating strong potential for last-minute bookings.

Technologies that help enable this intent to embrace spontaneity will play a key role in empowering this cohort. The explosion of AI, which has already seen the launch of Booking.com’s AI Trip planner, is going mainstream in 2024: 54% would trust AI to plan a trip for them. Tech-enabled flexible services, giving travellers the option to cancel, change plans, and buy now, pay later at the press of a button will be equally integral.

  1. Savvy Travellers will Level up Budget-friendly Itineraries with Ad-hoc Extravagance
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Fuelled by the cost of living crisis alongside the mainstream stealth wealth trends of 2023, travellers in 2024 will be taking a save and splurge approach to itinerary building, seeking moments of luxury as an add-on to budget-conscious basics.

Half (52%) of travellers plan to pick destinations where the cost of living is less expensive than their hometown – creating opportunities for second and third-tier locations Travelling closer to home will also be considered to reduce costs in 2024 (49%) 56% of parents say they want to take their children out of school (if they can) to travel outside of peak season to make their money stretch further In complement, luxury experiences will be bolted on to offer the best of both:

One in two (56%) travellers will be willing to pay for day passes to use the amenities in a five-star hotel rather than actually staying there 45% would even pay to rent a nicer car than they drive at home to travel in style Tech will be relied on as a source of inspiration, with more than half (62%) of travellers wanting insights and tips from AI when on vacation to upgrade experiences with suggested ancillaries and deals.

  1. Sustainability Innovation & Experiences Rooted in Purpose Sought by Discerning Travellers

Misconceptions that comfort and exceptional design are solely associated with luxury travel are diminishing, thanks to a growing movement of industry operators presenting inventive and aesthetically pleasing responses to significant environmental and social challenges. As a result, travellers are increasingly in search of jaw-dropping architecture that has environmental features at its heart, so ensuring that efforts are highlighted visually and through clear content will be vital.

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Over half (60%) of APAC travellers are looking for accommodation that has wow-factor sustainability innovation Three in five (67%) prefer to see sustainability in action Two thirds (68%) want to see the outside brought indoors with green spaces and plants in accommodations on vacation
Sustainability also remains at the forefront when it comes to the experiences these mindful travellers are looking for, with interest in sustainable itineraries that help them contribute to conservation efforts while offering exclusive access to a deeper understanding of how those contributions manifest.

A large number (64%) are interested in sustainable travel apps where they can unlock rewards, such as:

Experiences with locals in off-the-beaten-path areas (50%) Visiting remote locations that tourists otherwise have limited access to (45%)

  1. Culinary History, Provenance and Originality will Inform a Deeper Level of Gastro-tourism

Destinations rich in culinary heritage will be primed to welcome food ‘archaeologists’, with two thirds (67%) more interested in learning about the origins of a destination’s ‘must-eat’ delicacies this year than they were in the past. Accommodations and experiences that can elevate the traditional history, geography and craftsmanship of local cuisine will be in hot demand for these next-gen gastro-tourists.

Four in five (85%) want to try indigenous dishes and heritage flavours in 2024, experiencing cultures which may have been lost or forgotten in other parts of the world. Industry operators can further tap into this by offering experiences that take travellers on trails that tell the story behind the food they serve, bringing pride and income to communities around the globe.

  1. Elevated Rest & Relaxation as an Antidote to the Challenges of Modern Life
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Travel continues to be a salve for the stresses and strains of modern living, with 2024 ushering in an era of amplified relaxation that goes beyond the staples of wellness. Sleep tourism, for example, will step up in popularity with sleep concierges and cutting-edge tech to serve the 66% who want to travel in 2024 to solely focus on uninterrupted shut-eye.

This effect taps into the expected rise of water-centric travel:

Nearly three quarters (72%) agree that being close to water instantly makes them feel more relaxed Over a third (35%) are interested in water-centric vacations in 2024 As people dive headfirst into aquatic escapes, mindful water immersion will quickly become the next mainstream version of meditation, where the wild-swimming craze meets the ice-therapy movement. Experiences such as floating yoga, water sound baths and snow meditation will boom, as well as ice therapy retreats, underwater hotels and mermania.