Can you guess the one major travel trend from 2023 that's sticking around?
With the new year just around the corner, travel planning for 2024 is in full swing. Online travel booking behemoth Expedia recently unveiled its 2024 travel trends report, combining a vast trove of first-party data with a global consumer survey of 20,000 travelers. Think of it as a peek into what will define the travel landscape in the year ahead.
“What’s happening in culture often shapes consumer behavior, and we’ve definitely seen that in travel,” said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands, in an interview with Travel + Leisure. There’s a wide array of intriguing intel, from how travelers are looking for recommendations (hello, ChatGPT) to the destination “dupes” jet-setters are choosing so they can avoid overcrowded destinations.
While generative AI tools like ChatGPT took the spotlight in 2023, according to Gieselman, only a small fraction of travelers — 6 percent in total — used it to plan their trips. However, in 2024, Expedia predicts more widespread adoption; half of those surveyed are interested in using generative AI to plan their next getaway.
The technology’s ability to simplify the planning and booking process — though often with unintended side effects — is driving its use. Nearly 40 percent of travelers say they would use generative AI to help find the perfect stay.
Destination “Dupes” and "Set-jetting"
AI may (or may not) prove helpful for trip planning, but how will travelers narrow down where to go? The Expedia-commissioned study explored the “dupe” trend that has taken over TikTok by applying it to 2024 travel destinations. “These cities made the list because they all experienced a noticeable uptick in searches on the Expedia app over the past year, so it’s clear that they’re emerging as great alternatives,” Gieselman says.
In many cases, these “dupes” are affordable alternatives to places that are historically more expensive. At the top of the list was Taipei, Taiwan, with a 2,786 percent increase in flight searches for 2024; Expedia says the city is a dupe for Seoul. Other notable dupes include Pattaya, Thailand (dupe for Bangkok); Paros, Greece (dupe for Santorini); Curacao in the Caribbean (dupe for St. Martin); and Perth, Australia (dupe for Sydney).
There’s one 2024 trend that’s a sure bet — and a holdover from 2023. “Set-jetting” will continue to be in vogue for the new year. More than half of the travelers surveyed say they’ve researched or booked a trip to a destination after seeing it in a television show or movie.
Giselman and company dug closer into specific programming that is influencing this trend. For instance, following the release of Wednesday on Netflix, Expedia saw a 150 percent increase in travel searches for Romania. There was a 200 percent increase in searches to Paris after Emily in Paris debuted its most recent season.
A longtime favorite, White Lotus, is filming its third season in Thailand and Expedia expects a surge in travel to the Southeast Asian country. After all, the first two seasons of the series drove a 300 percent increase in demand to Hawaii and Sicily.
Sober Travel and More
Once on the ground, Expedia expects travelers to fully embrace “dry tripping,” going beyond the traditional Dry January or Sober October to have low- or no-alcohol getaways year-round. The travel industry has responded accordingly, stocking minibars with zero-proof options and offering mocktail-making experiences.
Giselman says that it’s Gen Z travelers who are driving the dry tripping trend. “Sober-curious lifestyles are becoming more commonplace, and many Gen Zers are practicing alcohol-free lifestyles," he notes.
Wynn Las Vegas, a T+L reader favorite in Sin City, offers a “Drinking Well” zero-proof cocktail program developed by a master mixologist featuring reishi mushrooms, ashwagandha, and maca. Meanwhile, The Merrion, a T+L reader favorite hotel in Dublin, distills its own nonalcoholic gin. Expedia says more than 40 percent of travelers are likely to book a detox trip in the next year, with half of respondents saying they would be interested in staying at hotels that offer easily accessible alcohol-free beverage options.
The complete travel trends report, with several other key tenets, comes on the heels of Expedia Group’s recent launch of One Key, a single unifying travel rewards program across Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo.
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