As we look ahead through 2024, demand for travel remains undiminished. But what is evolving are the expectations of travelers. Demands on the technology used by holidaymakers and business travelers is accelerating, while the personalized experiences travelers seek continue to advance.
Last year, topics front of mind for global hospitality included, “trip stacking” with many catching up on trips denied during the pandemic, and the continued digitalization of the hotel experience – with many of HBX Group’s predictions for the year just past coming to fruition.
“This is a year of optimism for global tourism, the first fully ‘normal’ year of travel since the turn of the decade,” said Nicolas Huss, CEO of HBX Group. “While several topics remain evergreen, including a focus on personalization and sustainability, HBX Group is also anticipating a shift towards wellness and increased demand for new payment options from travelers. At HBX Group, we have reconfigured our organization to meet the changing hopes of travelers and fully anticipate 2024 will be the year when long-held expectations are realized.”
New figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) highlight the recent growth in travel, revealing that destinations around the world welcomed 22 percent more international tourists in the third quarter of 2023 than the same period of 2022, reflecting a strong northern hemisphere summer season. Indeed, international tourism receipts could reach US$1.4 trillion in 2023, according to the organization.
As the global tourism sector is projected to generate a staggering 110 million new jobs in the coming decade, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), HBX Group reveals the trends that will shape the travel industry in 2024.
Experiential travel: From sports to shopping, booking trips around your favorite pastime is going to increase in 2024. With the Olympics this summer, expect a surge in travel to Paris, while Euro 2024 will see football fans flock to Germany and cricket fans will head to the U.S. and Caribbean for the T20 World Cup. Retailtainment is also expected to peak this year as consumers book their holidays around must-visit shopping destinations. London, particularly for Chinese travelers, and the U.S. have always been popular but new destinations could also emerge, including Italy, as consumers invest in its homegrown designers.
Luxury travel: Luxury travel, including the wellness tourism sector, is experiencing a surge as travelers increasingly prioritize achieving a harmonious internal and external balance in their lives. Travelers will look for more exclusive experiences this year, built around dining experiences. With many retreats offering a combination of all of this, it can be the ideal way to switch-off while also taking care of your body and mind.
Rebound of Asia-Pacific: 2024 will be the first full year for travel for Asia-Pacific since 2019. This means there’s a lot for tourists to explore both in and out of the region. While China will lead the way, Vietnam will see a significant spike in popularity.
Personalization and automation: Research among travel agent partners of HBX Group reveals that up to 90 percent of travelers now seek personalized solutions, catering to a rising demand for tailored and seamless trips. The transformation of HBX Group into a global travel ecosystem player, introducing new product lines to meet the needs of the end consumer as they seek a frictionless end-to-end travel experience, is designed to meet these ambitions. Partners report customers are not just after essential services, such as insurance and financial provisions, they also seek comprehensive travel packages that offer 24/7 customer support and assistance in local languages.
Daycations: Struggling to find time to take a week’s holiday? 2024 will see the rise of the daycation. A day at the beach or a hike in the mountains can be just the tonic for a work reset. Taking a daycation – or two – can also be good for the planet and your wallet by exploring new places on a budget.
Rise of sustainable travel: Recycling, hybrid cars, reducing plastic – all ways consumers are reducing their environmental impact. Travel is no different. In 2024 more people are looking for tangible, actionable information which will allow them to make greener decisions when choosing a travel provider or destination. Metrics such as greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and composition, freshwater use, air pollution and resource use are all vital to understand the impact of a trip and understanding travelers can reduce it.
Focus on Fintech: Travel demand is surging but cancellations, delays and staffing shortages continued to plague travel operations in 2023. This can create friction and stress for travelers, damaging brands and demanding resolution. For travel companies pushing to regain and expand their market share in the current chaotic environment, travel fintech offers compelling solutions by freezing prices, changing or cancelling reservations and easily rebooking disrupted flights, paying with whichever methods they find the most convenient.
HBX Group will this year introduce a range of Fintech products, including travel insurance, payment solutions and multi-currency solutions. These products will be embedded into the core business to offer its clients and partners these services across their businesses. The size of these opportunities is already large and growing. For example, the travel insurance sector alone is currently worth €15 billion and is expected to grow to €99 billion by 2030, according to research by Spherical Insights & Consulting.