The report, Travel Trends 2024: Still Planning for Robust Demand, reveals several shifting behaviors, including consumer travel intentions, evolving travel planning and booking patterns, how different generations are approaching travel needs, and how businesses are structuring their travel booking and loyalty capabilities in response. This analysis is based on a survey conducted in August and September 2023, polling over 2,000 U.S. travel loyalty program members and 151 industry professionals.
A key insight from the report reveals that most consumers plan to maintain or increase their travel frequency in 2024 compared to 2023, primarily for leisure purposes. This trend is driven in large part by younger consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Z, who not only traveled more in 2023 but also plan to amplify their travel activities in the coming year.
Alongside sustained demand, the report’s findings reveal consumers’ shift toward maximizing trip value in more ways. This includes extending planning windows, prioritizing discounts while comparison shopping, and engaging with loyalty programs that provide more options. Blending business and leisure travel is another value-seeking approach, particularly among younger consumer groups, that’s on the rise.
“The combination of continued travel demand with an increased focus on value creates a tremendous opportunity for businesses to engage with consumers and drive spending through travel loyalty programs, but only if they are responding to consumer preferences and adapting investments and capabilities accordingly,” says Kenneth Purcell, CEO of iSeatz. “Our latest report details strategies for brands to maximize impact and appeal to value-focused travelers, particularly in offering a greater selection of choices and booking experiences.”
2024 Travel Outlook: Increased Appetite for Travel, Earlier Planning and Discount Prioritization
While travel providers and their partners should prepare for robust demand in the coming year, the survey points to a changing dynamic in how U.S. consumers plan and book travel. It also uncovers a misalignment between business perspectives and traveler expectations of booking capabilities, personalization, and the use of loyalty programs and travel rewards. Key insights include:
- Inflation unchecked, travel plans persist: U.S. adults aren’t cutting back on travel in 2024: 22% plan to travel as much as in 2023, and 63% expect to take 1-4 extra trips, mostly for leisure.
- Younger generations are driving wanderlust, along with changing views on travel options: Millennials and Gen Z are leading in travel enthusiasm: 38% of Millennials and 37% of Gen Z aim for 3+ more trips than in 2023, often blending business and leisure travel and exploring various booking options.
- Travelers are planning earlier and locking in deals: Early planning and deal-seeking are trends across all ages: 81% of consumers now plan trips over a month ahead, with 56% planning 2-6 months in advance, highlighting a significant shift towards strategic travel planning.
- Travel rewards are more popular than ever, but the booking experience needs work: Among businesses with travel rewards in loyalty programs (63%), nearly all (99%) offer booking capabilities. However, only 51% of consumers primarily use loyalty programs for bookings. This may stem from challenges in providing travel recommendations (43% of loyalty professionals’ top concern) and limited appealing travel options (38% cite as a key shortcoming).
Get Ready to Engage Diverse Travel Planners
Brands need to tailor strategies for different subsets of travel planners. The report shows varying behaviors, like credit card loyalty members and high earners ($100k+) planning trips well in advance and valuing diverse travel options in their loyalty programs. Millennials and Gen Z, while initially using loyalty program sites for planning, often turn to OTAs and direct suppliers for finalizing their travel plans.
“‘Businesses now understand the important role of travel rewards to fulfill widespread consumer demand, particularly from younger generations who frequently use comparison shopping and loyalty program sites. To address the varied needs of these groups, reward providers must differentiate between individual members, offering relevant options and recommendations,” added Purcell. “Our survey shows that a generic approach no longer works in today’s competitive market.”
For more information about iSeatz’s Travel Trends 2024 report or to speak with Kenneth Purcell, CEO of iSeatz, about the survey findings, please get in touch with Vanessa Horwell at [email protected].
iSeatz connects people to brands with personalized and diverse travel & lifestyle experiences. Backed by proven deliverability, reliable advanced analytics, and travel lifecycle expertise, iSeatz sets the bar for a superb journey from the very first search. Our clients represent the best in travel, hospitality, and financial services, including American Express, IHG Hotels & Resorts, and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. Learn more at iSeatz.com.