WeTravel has released its second-annual What’s Ahead for Travel Bookings and Payments Report, uncovering travel consumer expectations in 2024, and how consumer expectations will impact travel businesses.
Analyzing survey responses from more than 600 global travel businesses and comparing against survey data from 2022, the report finds that external factors like mobile technology adoption, flexible work arrangements and climate and economic conditions are driving consumers to spend more on the customized itineraries, with more ways to instantly book and pay.
In 2024, the surveyed travel businesses claim that, unlike post-pandemic travel that was customized for smaller groups and private transportation and accommodation, consumers are now customizing itineraries to localize and broaden in-destination experiences – willingly spending more on luxury travel, culinary adventures, and wellness escapes, especially in lesser-known destinations.
The high-price ticket items aren’t deterring bookings; instead, travel consumers are choosing to pay instantly, with the most-common booking lead time being less than one month before departure, and the majority of travellers paying the total trip cost at checkout.
“The travel industry has navigated constantly-shifting consumer preferences since the pandemic, which instantly changed how the world travels. While the era of revenge travel that followed COVID closures and all the preferences attached to the era have tapered, WeTravel’s Report finds travel spending is only increasing, with more focus on immersive, interpersonal and integrated experiences,” said Zaky Prabowo, WeTravel’s chief operating officer and co-founder, in a news release.
“From the way travellers create trips to how they pay for a homestay tip, technology is changing in travel, which is making it easier than ever for travel to be local. Thankfully, travel businesses have technology to support their operations in managing more customized, instantly-purchased itineraries – from travellers across the globe.”
Seeing beyond sights, spontaneously
The most common booking lead time according to respondents is one month before departure, with 60 per cent of bookings falling within the one to three-month window
Seventy percent of travellers now make the full payment at the time of booking, reflecting a substantial 181 per cent increase from 2023
The expense of experiences
Most survey respondents reported that travellers are spending more on trips in 2024, with 33 per cent describing an increase in spending by between 10 percent and 25 percent compared to 2023.
Eighteen percent of travellers are choosing to visit more expensive destinations, while 15 per cent are seeing costs increase as a result of customizing their trips
Involvement in itineraries
Fifty-nine percent of businesses offering personalized itineraries note a 56 per cent rise in traveller requests for customization in 2024
Thirty-six percent of respondents stated that travellers are spending more on add-ons to customize their trips than they did in 2023
Travel’s new flavour
Culinary trips are growing: 39 per cent of businesses adding local activities offer culinary experiences
More than half of businesses chose to update their existing trips for 2024, with 8 per cent specifically updating to include culinary experiences
The 46-60 age group remains the most significant for wellness travel, at 33 per cent of bookings
The popularity of Latin America for wellness travellers remained stable at 33 per cent, while Asia grew to account for 19 per cent of trips in 2024
“While the collected data on how travel consumers are spending–and what they’re spending more on–is valuable knowledge for the industry as we head into product development season, it also helps travel businesses anticipate how to manage their website and operations to service these preferences” said Prabowo. “For travel businesses, more spending, at a quicker pace can mean increased revenue, but it can cause logistical and operational issues on the ground. If travel businesses can be prepared for what their travellers want in 2024, the better relations they’ll have with all their stakeholders – and the more revenue they’ll welcome into their business.”
Prabowo will present the findings through a virtual event on January 23, 2024, at noon EST. To register for the free webinar, click here.