Aiming to forecast the travel landscape for the upcoming year, Global Hotel Alliance (GHA)—the world’s largest coalition of independent hotel brands—has uncovered the most sought-after destinations for 2024, as well as the motivating factors compelling travelers to visit them.
A survey taken among loyalty program members discovered that Japan and Thailand are in the lead, trailed by Spain , Canada, and Hawaii. The research also revealed some key motivators of current traveler behavior, including the desire to see new destinations and enjoy fresh experiences.
Europe emerged as global travelers’ most coveted region for in the coming year, while, in Asia, staycations have become the dominant trend. This craze is primarily driven by enthusiastic Chinese travelers, who reported planning more than five such getaways on average, although Thai and Malaysian travelers are planning an average of more than four staycations themselves.
The study’s results mirror last year’s trends, with DHA DISCOVERY members’ responses indicating that they’ll travel primarily for leisure purposes. Across all regions surveyed, participants foresee taking only one business trip on average, but between two and four leisure trips next year.
The resurgence of Asian outbound travel stands out prominently. China is leading trend the trend, where respondents reported planning an average of six to seven leisure trips (6.8 average), with Hong Kong (6.7), Thailand (6.4) and Germany (6.1) following closely behind.
The Middle East and Africa also stand out in the research, demonstrating a balanced proportion of business (4.9) and leisure (4.0) trips in 2024.
The Middle East and Africa stand out, presenting a unique pattern where travelers in these regions are planning nearly equal business and leisure trips, hinting at a more balanced travel approach in 2024.
Destination preferences by region:
Asia: 2023’s trend carries on in Asia, where there’s a continued interest in intra-regional destinations. Trips to Japan, China and Thailand top the list.
Europe: European residents favor Thailand and Japan for the second year in a row year. However, their 2023 hotspot has shifted away from the U.S., replaced with a desire to explore their own region, with Spain and Italy securing the top spots.
Australia and New Zealand: These Oceanian travelers are inclined towards overseas trips to Singapore and the U.K.. Sydney emerges as a hotspot for staycations, while there’s also a growing desire to visit Portugal when traveling to Europe.
North America: As in 2023, North Americans remain keen on visiting Japan, although they are replacing trips to China with getaways in Hawaii, Spain, and Thailand. Interestingly, this market appears least interested in staycations with an average of little more than two trips planned.
Middle East and North Africa: Japan remains a favorite heading into 2024, although Canada and Oman are emerging as new hotspots for travelers from this region, supplanting Italy and Singapore.
Motivations, Inspirations and Preferences:
Social Media: Continuing the pattern of recent years, social media was revealed to be travelers’ top source of inspiration, with 75 percent of respondents saying they select new destinations after viewing their friends’ posts. The trend is particularly prominent among participants in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Oceania. While travel magazines still wield influence in Europe and North America, recommendations from friends and family carry the most weight with consumers in those regions.
Family and Food: Evidencing that travel patterns are returning to pre-pandemic norms, survey participants exhibited a preference for trips with spouses, partners and intimate family groups, as opposed to solo adventures or large-scale vacations with non-immediate relatives. Notably, foodie-centric trips are also gaining traction, outstripping wellness getaways as the most in-demand travel experiences.
Loyalty Programs: Loyalty program websites and apps have now become the primary choice for travel research and booking across all regions, marking a notable increase from 2023. This is followed by travel agent websites and consumer review sites, all of which take precedence over official brand and hotel websites. It’s an indication that travelers opt for resources that allow them to view a wide range of options in one place to save time and effort.
Upgrades: Special rates and hotel benefits were cited as the most crucial loyalty benefits by global members of lodging loyalty programs. The most drastic change in terms of priorities was seen in Europe, where the most desired hotel loyalty benefit was discounted rates in 2023. Now, members place a higher value on perks like room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout. Across all regions, 70 percent of consumers surveyed point to room upgrades as their foremost preferred benefit.
“Travel is back on all fronts with every region thriving, and despite disruptions in certain markets, we are optimistic for another strong year in 2024,” said Kristi Gole, Executive Vice President of Strategy at GHA. “Travellers are still willing to pay premium prices to get where they want and to stay in the best hotels, but they now expect the product and service levels to match, and want loyalty programs to add value and enhance each stay.”