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5 Need-to-Know Travel Marketing Trends for a Strong Fall and Winter

By Hayley Corbett

August 30, 2023

travel marketing trends 2023 fall winter

The curtains are closing on 2023, but the show must go on in travel marketing. As the industry gears up for 2024, there are key trends and undercurrents shaping fall and winter strategies. 

In this blog post, we’ll pull back the curtain to reveal five need-to-know trends our team has uncovered through in-depth travel research. By tapping into these insights, you can take center stage and deliver show-stopping campaigns this fall and winter. 

The data doesn’t lie — let’s give readers a standing ovation by crafting targeted, relevant messaging.

Domestic and Regional Travel Still Reigns Supreme

The latest data shows domestic trips are in demand. A US Travel Association survey reveals 53% of Americans intend to travel for leisure in the next six months. More than 80% of these travelers are planning domestic getaways through the end of 2023. 

For fall, Italy may be the #1 global destination, but domestic demand is huge, too. A full 30% of Americans ranked a U.S. destination among their top choices for autumn trips, reports Travel Age West. With this passion for closer-to-home travel, there are ample opportunities to motivate regional travelers.

Tactics to attract eager domestic travelers:

  • Targeting drive markets and regional air routes in paid ads
  • With travelers compromising on dining, spotlighting unique hyperlocal experiences and off-the-beaten-path attractions
  • Optimizing budgets and landing pages for paid campaigns targeting U.S. geos

Last-Minute Booking Surge Means Pivot to Impulse Travelers

Travelers are pulled toward planning at the last minute nowadays. Expedia Group observed a 115% increase in 21-day booking windows. Domestic data from across regions showed a rising last-minute booking search volume, too. 

Research by Future Partners confirms this compressed timeline — Americans formerly took 11.5 weeks on average to book a one-week domestic vacation but now need just 9.8 weeks. For recent travelers, the accelerated planning was even more pronounced, with getaways booked only 6.4 weeks pre-travel.

Adjust your marketing to capitalize on this shift to last-minute trips with these tactics:

  • Highlight fast, seamless booking options
  • Feature flash sales and limited-time offers
  • Promote pre-packed, ready-to-book trips for next weekend
travel marketing trends

Cut Through Travel Friction to Wow Visitors

As traveler frustrations swell, strategic messaging on frictionless experiences could provide an edge. Examples of frictionless experiences for a destination include:

  • “Travel from the airport to your hotel in under 20 minutes with our seamless public transit.” (Highlighting ease of navigation)
  • “Our city is completely accessible by foot, bike, or public transit — no rental car required.” (Touting car-free navigation)

Per Future Partners, 61% of Americans expect domestic travel to become more frustrating over the next year broadly. Crowding concerns are mounting too, with nearly half anticipating congested National Parks. And general travel hassles are hindering more than 50% from traveling more right now. 

Savvy marketers could capitalize on these mounting frustrations. For example, the U.S. Travel Association found 65% of air passengers are open to sharing biometrics if it saves 20 minutes during airport security processes. Messaging frictionless navigation around your destination and streamlined COVID protocols could motivate travelers amid hassles.

Spotlight efforts that make visiting your destination completely seamless:

  • Provide detailed sample itineraries to reduce logistics headaches
  • Promote frictionless options like public transit and easy on-the-ground navigation

Value Messaging Resonates with Inflation-Weary Travelers

With rampant economic uncertainty, Americans are closely monitoring their finances and travel budgets. Per Future Partners, nearly 50% now fear an imminent recession and over one-third see the present as a suboptimal time for leisure travel spending. 

However, budget-focused travelers can find value as some destinations reduce rates, like the Caribbean’s 9.7% hotel price drop and Los Cabos’ 15% hotel rate decrease, Travel Age West reports.

Leveraging deals and affordability will incentivize prudent travelers. Tactics include:

  • Promote shoulder and off-peak seasons when overall costs tend to be lower
  • Spotlight the unique appeal of visiting during less busy times such as midweek
  • Curate sample value-focused itineraries blending free activities with budget meals and transportation

Emerging Platforms Offer Brand-New Opportunities

When it comes to finding travel inspiration, Gen Z overwhelmingly prefers TikTok as their discovery platform—almost 50% according to a study by Future Partners. TikTok’s dynamic, short-form video content seems to resonate deeply with this age group, offering a fresh way to explore and experience travel destinations vicariously. 

Meanwhile, the rise in podcast listenership transcends generational boundaries. People from all age groups are tuning in more than ever, making podcasts another essential channel for travel marketing. These shifts underline the importance of diversifying marketing approaches to engage various audiences effectively.

Consider testing and diving into these emerging platforms to expand your reach:

  • Launch a TikTok account with short videos showcasing your destination
  • Pursue partnerships with relevant travel podcasts and audio programs
  • Experiment with digital experiences like AR filters and VR previews
travel marketing trends 2023 for dmos

Turn the Page on 2023: How to Lead in the 2024 Travel Marketing Landscape

As the curtain lowers on 2023, it’s game time for the travel marketing universe to gear up for a blockbuster 2024. If you’re not ahead, you’re behind — so why settle for just keeping pace? Early adopters will be the headline acts, grabbing the spotlight and the rewards. With Gen Z finding their next adventure on TikTok and podcast listenership surging across all age groups, the playbook has evolved.

From targeting impulse travelers itching for last-minute getaways to crafting value-packed deals for budget-conscious wanderers, knowing your audience’s quirks is your ticket to center stage. And let’s not forget about the goldmine in reducing travel friction — making journeys as smooth as a red carpet entrance could be the game-changer in your year-end strategies.

Ready to translate these must-know trends into your show-stopping 2024 marketing campaign? Then it’s time for an encore. Make 2024 your year to shine with a simple visit to our contact us page.

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