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Travel Marketing Tourism Travel

In 2024, travelers are still seeking revenge – personalization will help them get it

By Ian MacArthur, Chief executive officer

Remarkable Group

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January 8, 2024 | 8 min read

Ian MacArthur of agency Sagittarius looks at how the travel industry is (still) bouncing back from its annus horribilis. Expect yet more innovation in 2024, he says.

A person lying down, facing the camera - beside a camel doing the same

Revenge travel: Not just for 2021, 2022, or 2023 - so says Sagittarius / Atlas Green via Unsplash

Over the last 18 months, the travel industry has been enjoying a surge in ‘revenge travel’, a term coined in 2020 to describe the expected boom in booked trips as payback for time lost to pandemic restrictions. Hotels, travel companies and airlines have benefited from consumer hunger to splash the cash on trips that make up for months spent in lockdown.

The expectation had been that this boom would begin to teeter in 2024 as the “revenge” wore off, and the cost of living soared. But, surprisingly and despite economic challenges, it looks as though consumers are even more fierce about travel than in previous years, with a spokesperson for Allianz Travel claiming, “We expect that 2024 will set a new record.” This phenomenon defies economic odds – and sheds light on the evolving desires of travelers who see travel differently since the pandemic.

So: with Skyscanner reporting that a remarkable 80% of UK travelers want to at least as many trips in 2024 compared with 2023, what kind of experiences are they looking for? And how can travel brands shift their marketing strategy to capitalize on these desires? That depends on the traveler.

Culinary and experiential travel

With a key driving force being the pursuit of unique experiences, travelers are seeking tailored gastronomic adventures that offer them unique ways to connect with local culture and explore new areas with an insider expert.

Travelers are keen to specifically design adventures around sampling new cuisines, whether that be through rare ingredients or wine tasting. Expect to see growth in this kind of travel, including offers to explore new places with a regional chef or dining with locals.

Travelers are prepared to invest in quality experiences which give them something different from the norm, so it’s wise to emphasize these unique moments to appeal to this kind of tourist.

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Once-in-a-lifetime travel

With a few years of pent-up wanderlust, value takes precedence over cost as travelers seek once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We’re seeing overseas travel to sold-out concerts (thank you, Swifties) and trips centered around one-off events like the Paris Olympics and the Qatari Fifa World Cup. Travel brands should consider campaigns or experiences around big events, leveraging the surge in visitors.

Thrill-seeking explorers are increasingly looking to push their horizons for self-empowerment. Trips to the Arctic, hiking ancient trails, and wild camping in remote locations are seeing a gradual rise. This indicates a willingness to invest in unique, unforgettable moments that transcend traditional notions of travel. Brands can use personalization technology to put together bespoke and unique experiences based on preferences and suggest destinations for more adventurous travelers.

Wellness, retreats, and transformational travels

Health and vitality travel are not new concepts, but how wellness tourists invest is set to change in 2024. Travelers are looking to invest in transformative medical travel, from specialized ‘biohack retreats’ with personalized doctors to one’s increase lifespan, to pioneering cosmetic transformations.

There’s also a surge in high-performance active travel, which leverages smart technology to track, optimize and enhance the performance of guests, enabling intensive monitoring for elite sportspeople.

Technology-driven travel experiences

From AI-driven personalization and predictive analytics to virtual reality destination previews and seamless, tech-enabled experiences, the travel industry is leveraging technology to enhance customer satisfaction and streamline travel processes. With globetrotters preferring self-service over speaking with a representative, brands will be looking to technology to take care of the full experience.

Think AI booking to facial recognition check-in (at Hilton hotels, for example) and preference-based room service. Brands are already experimenting with ways visitors can use technology throughout their holiday to create a bespoke experience.

Meanwhile, 2023 saw an increase in AI itinerary planning, with 48% happy to trust AI to plan their trips for them. In 2024 this technology will likely be able to take care of some of the most complex bookings and even help travelers while they’re already on the ground. Travel sites are already using this technology. Expect them to integrate it more heavily this year.

‘Bleisure’ travel

Enabled by the normalization of working from home, travelers want to make the most of their business trips by exploring the local area for a couple of additional days or throughout the evenings and weekends while preserving their annual leave allowance.

Combining business with leisure, travelers are maximizing their trips, incorporating both work and play. Travel brands should target business travelers who may decide to enhance their work trips with a little leisure. As technology empowers businesses to transcend borders, we expect to see this trend continue to grow.

So: revenge travelers are still rewriting the rules. And even as financial pressures continue, they still hope for memorable experiences to talk about on their return.

Travel in 2024 is about crafting moments that linger, leaving an indelible mark on travelers hungry for new and different experiences. By embracing sophisticated personalization, cutting-edge technology, and unique experiences, travel and tourism brands can adapt and innovate to provide travelers with the bespoke, transformative experiences they seek in this new era of exploration.

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