We’ve taken a look at the research and data and correlated them with the industry’s leading predictions of what the year 2024 will have in store for tourism and travel.
As a visitor attraction, being deemed “tourist attractions” doesn’t always feel right. But you are. Whether national or international tourists, you can attract visitors by leaning into the trends at play in the wider marketplace.
Here are the top trends that you might want to explore this year, but as always, it’s better to focus and do one or two tactics brilliantly than a handful averagely.
1. The Sound of Music - Event Tourism
Jumping in a car and driving a few hours to watch a gig or a show is something many people are willing to do, but in 2024 consumers are now using their events diary to plan trips, stays and even holidays.
Tourists engaging in music tourism often plan their trips around specific concerts, music festivals, or events. These can range from large-scale international music festivals to smaller, more intimate gigs. The appeal of music tourism lies in the opportunity to not only enjoy live music but also to explore different cities, cultures, and venues that host these events.
From iconic music festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury to niche events celebrating specific genres, music tourism has become a significant cultural and economic force. It contributes to the local economies of host cities, boosts tourism-related businesses, and creates a vibrant and dynamic environment for both locals and visitors.
Is there a venue near you that you could partner with? Offer an experience to ticket holders or a discount for a product? If thousands of tourists are visiting, it might pay to engage and ensure they have an experience which will leave them wanting to return. The fantastic Eden Project in Cornwall have turned their events/ venue into a revenue stream for their attraction. Is there a way of doing the same in your space?
2. A Grand Day Out - Grandparent travel
For a long time, we’ve been advising our clients to diversify their creative targeting and advertising to an additional market. The “silver pound” is a valuable mid-week or off-peak gold mine for those not working, that have some extra disposable income.
According to the latest trends report, “Skip Gen Travel” will be big in 2024.
With many people having to work longer hours to cover the costs of their lifestyles, they’re looking to their parents (and their kids' grandparents) to take some of the holiday burden. This is seeing resorts looking to expand their marketing offering to showcase safety and simplicity and tap into their wants and needs.
Whether it’s the holiday periods, or those midweek lulls, if you can inspire a grandparent to bring their grandchildren to you, you can boost those revenue figures. Why? They’re more likely to spend more, and also, who knows, delight and excite, and you might have a repeat customer who’ll want to bring the whole family for years to come.
3. AI is here to stay - Holiday Planning
AI will likely fall into all trend reports, events, predictions, tips, guides, and conferences this year, regardless of sector or specialism. It is well and truly here to stay. But as well as coming up with “ten blog names that’ll get people to click”, consumers are now turning to AI solutions to research their big trips.
With premium versions of your favourite AI software having live data, people are using them to research destinations and experiences based on their preferences and previous holidays. They’re having custom itineraries designed and getting the best places to eat planned into their days out.
So what’s this got to do with you? Well, AI can only add to research and planning if it can find the information first. It’s vital you ensure your content, articles and product pages are all set up and easily scrapable for these AI travel planners.
One thing to note is in 2024, we can’t talk about AI without the impact it has on the environment. It’s currently predicted that the AI industry could use as much energy as the Netherlands. This power has to come from somewhere, and so much like the product evolution on fuel to travel, products in destination and impact from tourism, as a sector, we need to be aware that using AI to our advantage must come with a thought for how to power it sustainably.
4. A Year of Change - Consumer Change
In 2024 customisation is key. If you want to order a sandwich, you’ve now got the option to remove pretty much all the topping and add whatever you fancy. The same now goes for the way people want to experience.
One example is the traditional “peak season” for some destinations being a thing of the past. Consumers are fed up with being charged triple to travel in August, so are looking to travel in the shoulder seasons. Original Travel has launched new shoulder season itineraries to locations traditionally in demand during the summer – including the crystalline seascapes of Sardinia and Corsica – after seeing 14 per cent more bookings for September 2023 than for August 2023. If you’re seeing trends in people’s booking habits change, then why not lean in and make the most of it?
Another example of consumer behaviour impacting tourism is the recent National Theatre’s earlier start time. They’ll be trialling starting evening shows at 6:30, an hour before their usual time. Why? Data showed certain audiences in London didn’t want to be out late and were anxious about getting transport home, so as a trial, NT are seeing how the 6:30 start time impacts the experience. If successful, this might impact the cultural landscape as a whole, as well as the restaurants and bars surrounding the theatres.
So in 2024, it might be the time to dig deep into customer reviews and feedback. Are there patterns there? Is there a change in your offering that might appeal to a different audience? This might be the year to give it a try. There will probably be internal pushback, whether it’s “We tried it 15 years ago, and it didn’t work” or “We’ve always done it this way” it doesn’t mean that it won’t work now or customers haven’t changed their minds!
Check out some of our latest work...
5. Teamwork Makes Dreamwork - Wellbeing
After the pandemic, the world of work dramatically changed. From striking workforces to hybrid working, the world of work hasn’t seen a bigger shift in decades. But now more than ever, a light is being shone on team wellbeing.
It is reported that £7bn is lost in productivity due to undervalued, burnt-out or unsupported teams. With hospitality and tourism staff shortages truly taking hold in 2023, it’s vital we ensure the wellbeing of our teams.
But it’s not just bosses looking to regenerate their teams; individuals are looking to unwind on their travels too, with people looking to “unplug” from technology and get away from the hustle and bustle. According to Hotels.com, more than 40% of travellers say they are likely to book a detox trip in the next year.
With more companies looking to retain staff and keep them in a happy place, there is the opportunity to either create or adapt your offering to appeal to work “away days”, team training, or staff bonding experiences. If you’re looking for something for your own staff, why not reach out to a local “competitor” and offer to swap a free experience?
This will excite staff and also engage them in what else is out there in the space.
6. This Next One Might Surprise You - Surprise Travel
There are some halves of couples that every holiday or trip they take is “surprise travel” (luckily, your other half is a planning guru!). But the trend of truly surprise travel is growing, and it may just take off in 2024.
What is surprise travel? Over the last decade or so, there has been the introduction of new travel planners that will take care of everything for you. You pay a set fee and select the duration of your trip, and the travel provider will book flights to a mystery destination, set you up with a surprise accommodation location and book some experiences for you.
This might sound like your idea of hell, but Booking.com recently surveyed 27,000 travellers in 33 countries, and 52% of those surveyed said they are "keen to book a surprise trip where everything down to the destination is unknown until arrival".
IIf you’re a visitor attraction, why not offer a package on your website for a “mystery experience”? Simply have consumers fill in a questionnaire and then when they arrive, surprise them with one of your experiences, food offerings or behind-the-scenes tours. Who knows, you might even be able to charge a median price and then fill your vacant slot for that day.
7. Film Location Location Location - Film Tourism or “Set Jetting”
The next trend that 2024 brings is one that is predicted to grow and grow. More than half of travellers acknowledge that they have researched or booked a trip to a destination after encountering it in a TV show or movie. In fact, 1 in 4 confess that TV shows and films now exert even more influence on their travel plans than before.
Up until now, popular film tourism destinations may include places like New Zealand, known for its role in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, or Croatia, which featured prominently in "Game of Thrones." But the want to travel to locations and film settings is rising and rising. The first two seasons of “The White Lotus” drove a 300% increase in travel demand to Hawaii and Sicily.
In essence, film tourism provides a unique blend of cinematic appreciation and travel, allowing individuals to connect with the magic of the big and small screen in real-world settings. It has become a significant niche within the broader tourism industry, reflecting the enduring influence of film and television on popular culture.
Whilst it’s great if you happen to have been the location for the latest Bridgeton series (hey Bath!), if you’re an attraction or a destination a little off-grid, now what? Well, do you offer film crews and production companies access to film in your location? If not, why not?
There are multiple websites where you can list your locations as options for film crews to use, and it’s simple to set up permissions and questions you’ll need to ask before allowing filming. Most will offer location fees (that can help your organisation in 2024), but the big benefit could include being featured in a new Netflix show or a BBC drama that can increase people researching to visit you.
When I worked internally at a visitor attraction, some of my favourite days of work were when production teams would come in to film a scene of a channel 4 series, a documentary with Steve Backshall, or even a Bollywood set piece. Why not give it a try?
8. Copy That - Dupe Travel
TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or whatever your distraction channel of choice is now more than ever becoming the go-to location for researching your trips, holidays, and days out. One trend taking the world by storm is the "dupe" trend, known for offering budget-friendly alternatives to popular products, which has now extended its influence to the realm of travel, dominating TikTok feeds. All of the 2024 destination dupes have witnessed a significant surge in searches over the past year. In fact, global searches for the top five destinations on the list have more than doubled year-over-year according to the latest data from Expedia.
Here are the top 5:
1. Taipei (dupe for Seoul)
2. Pattaya (dupe for Bangkok)
3. Paros (dupe for Santorini)
4. Curaçao (dupe for St. Martin)
5. Perth (dupe for Sydney)
Ok, so how does this work for your attraction? Getting your attraction front and centre on a social feed has never been more important. Is there a look and feel you can explore in your creative or a paid media approach to excite possible travellers? Why not speak to a consultancy or designer to give your social channels a boost in 2024? You never know the impact this might have.
9. Celebrate Good Times Come On - Occasions to Celebrate
After the last few years, it’s no surprise that people are looking for reasons to celebrate and enjoy their spare time. Of course, anniversaries and birthdays are the times when we often look to book to celebrate, but data shows that 25% of individuals express their eagerness to find 'any excuse' to embark on a getaway with their loved ones. With a third of travellers intending to increase their trips with family and friends next year compared to 2023, there's a heightened emphasis on seizing opportunities to reserve private vacation homes for collective celebrations.
We’re talking puppy moons, mate dates, and first-date anniversaries! Whatever the reason, people are looking for experience, destinations and accommodation to suit.
It’s important to ensure you’re front and centre where consumers are looking for the perfect experience for their occasion. But also, it’s up to you to inspire a visit. As well as Valentines, Easter, and Halloween, why not make every week a theme or have an event to talk about on your socials? Create content to inspire and engage people to visit. Mother's Day, Father's Day, Dog days, spring weekends, autumn cosy retreats, whatever it is, be creative and have fun with it.
So where do we go from here?
So as we embark on another year in tourism, perhaps one of the most important words in the English language, “optimism”, is apparently going to be big in 2024.
According to IPSOS’s global research, 53% say 2023 was a bad year for them, and 70% say it was a bad year for their country. This is the lowest level since before the Covid-19 pandemic. But, in good news, seventy per cent think 2024 will be a better year than the last.
So, in 2024 the world is looking for some optimism. With a strong marketing strategy, a clear focus on where to grow and how to increase your positive impact, we hope that 2024 is a strong year for you. consumer to book.
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