Booking.com: Travel will be the primal pulse of life in 2024 (facts and figures)

Gone are the days when travel was a means to escape daily life, with a Booking.com study showing that travel in 2024 will be all about living life to the fullest.

Booking.com’s Area Manager for Greece and Cyprus, Tasos Efthymiou, presented the company’s travel predictions for 2024 during the 45th Cyprus Hotel Summit & Expo recently. Described as its “most extensive predictions research to date”, travel is dubbed as the “primal pulse of life in 2024”.

“Where in years past travel has been a means to escape life, research shows that travel is life in 2024,” said Efthymiou. “Over three quarters (78%) of global travellers reveal they feel more alive than ever when on vacation, and 68% believe they are the best version of themselves on their travels.”

The research commissioned 27,000+ travellers, from 33 countries and territories.

Exploring how travel will transport people out of autopilot and into unleashing their best life, the research divide this year’s travellers into seven categories:

  • (Alter) Ego Enthusiasts
  • Cool- cationers
  • Surrender Seekers
  • Culinary Excavators
  • Reboot Retreaters
  • A La Carte Affluencers
  • Mindful Aesthetes

When it comes to (alter) ego enthusiasts, the study showed that 62% enjoy the anonymity of travel and the chance to recreate themselves; 37% make up stories about their real life to people on their travels; and 57% feel ‘main character energy’ on their travels.

As for cool-cationers, “Heat has officially had its vacay heyday. Scorching temperatures pushing the mercury to record-breaking levels is accelerating a rise in travellers chasing cooler climes to revive and refresh themselves in 2024,” said Efthymiou.

Of these, 56% say that as temperatures soar close to home, they will use their vacation to cool down elsewhere (LATAM 70%, APAC 61%, NORAM 50%, EMEA 48%). Another 51% report that climate change will impact the way they plan their vacation in 2024 (APAC 60%, LATAM 51%, NORAM 48%, EMEA 43%).

This trend also taps into the rise of water-centric travel in 2024. “Aquatic escapes are set to help cool-cationers take the edge off the heat and wash away their worries,” he explained. “Expect floating yoga, water sound baths and snow meditation to surge, as well as a boom in ice therapy retreats, underwater hotels and mermania.”

36% are interested in water-centric vacations in 2024 (LATAM 44%, EMEA 34%, APAC 35%, NORAM 28%), while 75% agree that being close to water instantly makes them feel more relaxed (LATAM 86%, NORAM 77%, EMEA 74%, APAC 72%)

Surrender seekers, on the other hand, want to surrender themselves to the element of surprise, explore the unknown and venture into uncharted territory on vacation. “Shifting from rigorous planning to chance encounters, Surrender Seekers are relinquishing control for the art of letting go.”

Over half of those asked (55%) would like to have no plans set in stone prior to travelling in 2024 so they can go where the wind takes them, with 52% saying they are keen to book a surprise trip where everything down to the destination is unknown until arrival. Another 56% prefer to venture off-the-beaten-path, while 34% seek to travel with strangers.

“The travel industry is responding fast with tech-enabled flexible services, giving travellers the option to cancel, change plans, and buy now, pay later,” said Efthymiou. “The explosion of AI, which has already seen the launch of Booking.com’s AI Trip planner, is going mainstream in 2024.”

To this end, 48% said they would now trust AI to plan a trip for them.

Picture2

Food enthusiasts, of course, could not be missing from any travel list. “The food archaeologists of 2024 will dig deep into the roots of food on vacation to unearth new foodie treasures. These Culinary Excavators are bucking next-gen food trends in favour of preserving the true craftsmanship of traditional dishes.”

Of those asked, 81% said they want to try indigenous cuisines in 2024, while 61% are more interested in learning about the origins of a destination’s ‘must-eat’ delicacies than they were in the past.

“Expect an increase in heritage flavours and indigenous experiences that tell the story behind the food, unlocking the secrets of cultures which have been lost or forgotten,” said Efthymiou. “Culinary Excavators are experientialists who fluctuate between digital and physical realities to transform every discovery into a heightened multisensory extravaganza. Think mood altering lighting, paired fragrances and sensual soundscapes that enhance the traces of foodways past.”

Meanwhile, 46% said they want an immersive ‘phygital’ food experience enhanced by VR or AR in 2024.

Picture3

For reboot retreaters, the aim for 2024 is to improve their quality of life. “Amid global instability and an ever-hectic world, dishevelled travellers are booking one-track trips rooted in self-improvement in 2024 to bring themselves back to the life they truly want again,” Efthymiou explained.

As such, 39% would carve out time for a matchmaking holiday; 58% of parents plan to travel alone, dropping the kids and their partners to prioritise themselves; 35% would book a heartbreak holiday to get over an ex; and 24% want to deepen the connection with their partner.

“To serve Reboot Retreaters looking to improve their shut-eye, the new era of sleep tourism welcomes bespoke sleep retreats featuring cutting-edge technology. Expect a rise in hotels offering beds that use sound and electromagnetic waves to put travellers into a deep resting state, with AI logging sleep preferences for future stays.”

Indeed, 58% want to travel in 2024 to solely focus on uninterrupted shut-eye, according to the research.

According to Efthymiou, fuelled by the cost of living crisis, travellers in 2024 will employ money saving hacks to cut costs, yet level up vacations with ‘à la carte’ luxuries. This is where A La Carte Affluencers come in: 51% are willing to pay for day passes to use the amenities in a five-star hotel rather than actually staying there; 42% would pay to rent a nicer car than they drive at home; and 56% want insights and tips from AI when on vacation to upgrade experiences with suggested ancillaries and deals

“A La Carte Affluencers want to appear wealthy, sweeping away the reality of making financial sacrifices, but behind the scenes are obsessed with see-through spending and curating budget-friendly travel itineraries,” he said.

With this category of travellers, 56% plan to book an all-inclusive so they know exactly how much their spend will be; 50% plan to pick destinations in 2024 where the cost of living is less expensive than their hometown; and 43% will be searching for luxe-for-less copycat vacations closer to home to reduce costs.

Mindful Aesthetes are described as travellers who want to make more conscious choices – which are sustainable and aesthetically pleasing.

Of these, 65% want to see the outside brought indoors with green spaces and plants in accommodations on vacation; 60% want to see sustainability in action while 53% look for accommodation that has wow-factor sustainability innovation.

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