Why do we travel? According to Booking.com’s research, in 2024 it’s not just about escaping, but experiencing the best of life, too. With input from 27,000 travellers across 33 countries, the online travel agent’s Travel Predictions for 2024 highlight the most sought-after destinations and experiences of the year.
Of course, it takes some travel technology to facilitate these new adventures. So, looking at a selection of the insights from Booking.com’s research, what technology can we expect to see helping fulfill travelers’ 2024 wish list criteria?
Seeking Affordable Luxury
Travelers are looking to balance affordability with luxury cravings, with 47% saying they may take children out of school to avoid peak travel costs and 50% planning to pay for holidays on credit cards to help spread the cost.
A sizeable chunk of any vacation budget is set aside for travel fares, and airlines are realizing that new consumer behaviors will need to be met with new payment methodologies and technologies. Many are looking at ways to help travelers spread the cost of booking a flight and save money, beyond using a credit card. These methods include air ticket price freezes, airline subscription plans and buy-now-pay-later options.
Prioritizing Comfort and Sustainability
Over half (53%) of travelers are seeking accommodation that blends comfort with innovative sustainability features. This can be easier said than done, and while we all have a responsibility to make more sustainable choices as we travel, online travel agents (OTAs) will need to put in place measures to meet consumers’ increasing demand for ‘green’ travel options. OAG’s own analysis resulted in three recommendations for how OTAs can innovate in this space:
- Cater to consumers’ preferred forms of sustainable travel.
- Help travelers better understand how they can really make a difference.
- Provide more details on the environmental impact of flights.
- Humanize the act of sustainable travel booking.
- Make sure to properly time sustainable travel features.
Phygital Dining via VR or AR
78% of those surveyed said they’d want to try new foods on their travels, and 46% were interested in trying ‘phygital’ (physical plus digital) dining using Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR).
Incorporating VR into the dining experience challenges our ideas of how food and drink should be consumed and what the things we’re eating may taste like, but it doesn’t end here. Various players in the travel space are experimenting with virtual reality to open new experiences to those that may otherwise not be able to get involved, and to allow consumers to ‘try before they buy’. Qatar Airways’ QVerse, for example, allows users to experience the airline’s accommodations, from check-in to the lounge and then the airplane cabin.
Also in the virtual reality/hospitality crossover zone is Decentraland, one of the first digitally produced hotels of its kind, where online avatars can tour the hotel, and guests are greeted in the lobby and shown around by a Millennium hotel “employee”.
Treading the path less traveled
44% would like to visit less touristy spots and 47% of respondents are eager to connect authentically with locals in less-traveled areas.
With the rise of the work-from-home revolution and the 'always-on' digital lifestyle, many people now want to disconnect. To facilitate this, OTAs are employing a variety of tactics, including offering unique travel experiences outside of the major travel windows, allowing customers to filter travel offerings by ‘purpose’, displaying information about the carbon footprint of any given trip, and providing search tools to help locate eco-friendly accommodation and travel tickets.
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