Plotting The Next Big Thing: 2024 Travel and Tourism Marketing Trends
2024 offers no shortage of events and trends to reshuffle the travel and tourism marketing landscape.
From cutting-edge AI and shifting consumer priorities to major events directing tourist flows, this is undoubtedly a year of great change and opportunity.
As travelers embrace new tools and trends post-pandemic, destination marketing organizations will need to keep pace and capitalize on emerging niches.
Flexibility, innovation and insight set apart winners as always.
What trends and tech should define marketing efforts this year? Let’s explore the pivotal changes that separate winning destinations in 2024’s decisive travel environment.
AI Goes Mainstream for Travel and Tourism Marketing in 2024
While just 17% of American travelers tapped AI tools for vacation planning over the past year, that figure is set to skyrocket in 2024. ChatGPT has dominated thus far, cited by 63% of AI-assisted travelers, but new platforms like TripAdvisor are entering the space.
And with 50% of travelers now open to leveraging AI for future trips, an explosion in adoption looms. Though only 6% used generative tools like ChatGPT in 2023, Expedia forecasts mass acceptance incoming.
Outside of the apps, Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) is also using AI to share travel planning by including AI-generated responses right into travelers’ search results.
For destinations, the implications are immense — 2024 may see swaths of visitors arriving with AI-powered itineraries in hand. To capitalize on this seismic shift, DMOs must ensure prominence on AI platforms, craft specialized travel packages and position themselves as go-to local experts to shape data-driven recommendations.
The AI-fueled travel surge is inevitable; early movers stand to welcome an influx.
Astrotourism: A Year of Rare Celestial Wonders
Astrotourism, a form of niche tourism centered around stargazing and astronomy, is poised to soar in 2024 as a leading travel trend. With several rare celestial events on the calendar, from vivid meteor showers to an exceptional northern lights display, 2024 marks a banner year for witnessing breathtaking sights in the night sky.
- Total Solar Eclipse on April 8: The most monumental event is undoubtedly the total solar eclipse on April 8, with the Moon fully obscuring the Sun in a narrow path across parts of Mexico, the central U.S. and Canada. Total solar eclipses occur about every one to two years but are only visible from any given location about once every 400 years, offering a truly singular sight.
- Vibrant Meteor Showers: Several of 2024’s meteor showers may produce incredible shows, especially the Quadrantids in early January and the Perseids in mid-August. With limited moonlight, these have the potential for upwards of 60-100 vivid meteors per hour at peak, an awe-inspiring display.
- Extraordinary Northern Lights: Due to the approaching solar maximum in 2024-2025, scientists anticipate the best northern lights in years during the start of the decade, with their vibrant colors possibly visible farther south than usual under optimal dark sky conditions.
Destinations around the world are leveraging these astronomical phenomena and the rising popularity of astrotourism by offering specialized services such as expert-guided stargazing sessions, bespoke event packages and lavish accommodations tailored to sky-watching. From the salt flats of Botswana to the Adriatic coastline, stargazers can fulfill their celestial dreams in wilderness hideaways or at luxury beach resorts primed for astronomy.
As travelers increasingly seek restorative, transformational trip experiences, destinations marketing their awe-inspiring night skies and astronomy-focused amenities can tap into this cosmic travel niche in 2024 and beyond.
Election Year Mutes 2024 Travel Spend
The 2024 presidential election cycle casts uncertainty for discretionary travel spend, with historical dips in election years.
Domestic and international travel still rank as top priorities for high-income households, but shortened planning cycles point to last-minute bookings. DMOs can leverage flexible offers, emphasize value and keep messaging inspiring — yet sensitive — to the political climate.
Promoting convenient weekend getaways, discounted shoulder season packages and easy full-refund booking can attract hesitant vacationers. While election distractions may mute 2024 travel initially, deploying strategic promotions as votes are counted can help destinations gain market share into 2025.
Capturing wavering demand just before or after an election makes for savvy marketing.
Wellness Travel to Skyrocket
Fresh off 36% annual growth from 2020-2022, the thriving $651 billion wellness tourism industry is forecast to rapidly accelerate – projected to reach a soaring $1.4 trillion value by 2027.
As personal health, self-care and mental health become indispensable to travelers planning 2024 getaways, quality sleep will take center stage. Destinations should highlight specialized programming like multi-day sleep optimization retreats, mindful meditation and partner with hospitality brands offering amenities to aid sleep health. Blackout shades, pillow menus and Sleep Concierges are just the start.
Marketing efforts should also showcase nature excursions, yoga sessions, spa treatments and other local wellness offerings. Catering to this high-value niche with personalized, restorative experiences taps into its meteoric post-pandemic rise.
With wellness tourism showing no signs of slowing its explosive expansion, destinations that promote transformative sleep and overall well-being are poised to gain happy, healthy visitors and significant revenue. Early movers stand to win big.
Gig Tripping Hits the Road
Gig tripping, traveling specifically for concert tours and festivals, is skyrocketing thanks to major 2024 world tours like The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and Bad Bunny.
With 44% of US travelers willing to fly short-haul and 18% long-haul to see artists abroad according to Skyscanner, often for ticket savings, gig tripping has mass appeal. Destinations can create targeted campaigns spotlighting the exact performances, highlighting discounted accommodation and transport packages bundled with tickets. Tailored festival sponsorship opportunities also hold potential.
Similar to the rise of bleisure travel, extending gig tripping beyond concerts to emphasize broader local music culture and unique destination amenities, could further attract ideal travelers.
As tens of millions combine live shows with tourism in 2024, destinations leveraging their music scenes have a stage to draw substantial new visitors and revenue.
‘Dupes’ Drive a Sustainable Shift
The TikTok-famed concept of substitute “dupes” is steering 2024 travel away from over-visited hotspots and toward fresh discoveries.
Expedia uncovered major flight search spikes for unexpected alternatives to popular destinations. These changes are signals of travelers moving from packed bucket-list locales to lesser-known gems offering similar amenities for less.
- Taipei, Taiwan for Seoul, South Korea (+2,786%)
- Pattaya, Thailand for Bangkok, Thailand (+249%)
- Paros, Greece for Santorini, Greece (+193%)
- Curaçao for St. Martin (+185%)
- Perth, Australia for Sydney, Australia (+109%)
Dupe Destinations also aid sustainability by redirecting tourists from saturated destinations to places with capacity for more visitors.
DMOs have a pivotal role to play by spotlighting their regions as affordable, crowd-free alternatives. Tailored marketing that draws parallels to beloved but maxed-out destinations, like emphasizing Pattaya’s vibrant culture or Paros’ azure waters, will entice tourists as it does in their related destinations. Packages pairing discounted flights with small distinctive hotels can also tap the trend. As “dupes” gain steam for underrated authenticity and value, destinations creatively positioned as the next hot-yet-hidden spot will win big.
Capturing this wave early helps disadvantaged places by distributing travelers and dollars sustainably.
Foodies Hungry for Flavor
For many globetrotters, it’s the flavors that leave the most lasting memories. According to Amex, 81% eagerly anticipate trying local cuisine above all else when traveling. Culinary adventures satisfy more than just taste buds – they offer a tasty window into regional cultures.
Whether it’s slurping hand-pulled noodles in Shanghai, nibbling sweet French macarons by the Eiffel Tower, or gingerly biting into a scorching hot Carolina Reaper pepper grown by chiliheads in New Mexico, iconic bites crystallize a place in our minds.
Street markets promise adventure, chaos and discovery, too. Travelers can lose themselves amid Marrakesh’s Djemaa el Fna’s thrills or Seattle’s lively Pike Place Market sights and smells. From steaming skewers to towering fruit stacks, iconic markets can feed minds as well as stomachs.
In 2024, increasingly motivated by cuisine, 50% of U.S. travelers will select vacations based on iconic restaurants or food festivals alone. Destinations can spotlight signature dishes, interactive cooking classes, once-in-a-lifetime Michelin-starred dining and quirky food experiences to transform menus into travel brochures. Satisfying appetites for authentic flavor promises delicious returns.
Seize The Moment
As forces reshape travel in 2024, the key becomes responding strategically to ride this wave of change.
By harnessing engaging content and innovative campaigns, spotlight the competitive edges that set your destination apart. Target emerging niches and embrace new technologies, not just to keep pace with shifting demands, but to redefine them.
More than ever, position your DMO not just as the ‘go-to local experts,’ but as the heart of a collaborative network that pulsates with the passion and energy of your local community. This is more than adaptation; it’s about crafting the future of travel, one inspired step at a time.
Our team at Noble Studios lives at the intersection of creative digital performance marketing. We can help you gain an edge amid 2024’s pivotal developments.
Let’s connect to craft tailored strategies for your destination to flourish today and tomorrow.