iSeatz, a provider of travel loyalty technology solutions for major airline, hotel, and financial services companies, has published its most recent survey report examining the evolving travel and loyalty trends for 2024.
The report – Travel Trends 2024: Still Planning for Robust Demand – uncovers notable shifts in consumer travel intentions, evolving travel planning and booking patterns, generational variances in travel approaches, and business responses in structuring travel booking and loyalty capabilities. This comprehensive analysis is based on an August and September 2023 survey, gathering feedback from over 2,000 U.S. travel loyalty program members and 151 industry professionals.
The report uncovers a significant finding: most consumers plan to maintain or increase their travel frequency in 2024 compared to 2023, particularly for leisure purposes. This upward trend is predominantly being propelled by younger consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Z, who not only travelled more in 2023 but also intend to enhance their travel activities in the upcoming year.
In addition to the sustained demand, the report’s discoveries indicate a shift among consumers towards maximising the value of their trips in various ways. This includes extending planning periods, emphasising discounts more while comparing different options, and engaging with loyalty programmes that offer a wider array of choices. Another approach gaining traction, particularly among younger consumer groups, is blending business and leisure travel to seek value.
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.Kenneth Purcell, iSeatz CEO
2024 Travel Outlook
Travel providers and their partners must be prepared for high demand in the coming year, as the survey indicates. There is a shift in how U.S. consumers plan and book travel, revealing a mismatch between business perspectives and traveller expectations regarding booking capabilities, personalisation, and the use of loyalty programmes and travel rewards. Key insights include:
- Inflation remains unchecked, yet travel plans persist among U.S. adults in 2024. A striking 22% intend to maintain their 2023 travel frequency, while a significant 63% anticipate embarking on 1-4 additional trips, predominantly for leisure purposes.
- The younger demographic is propelling this wanderlust as Millennials and Gen Z spearhead the surge in travel enthusiasm. A noteworthy 38% of Millennials and 37% of Gen Z aspire to undertake 3 or more trips than in 2023, often intertwining business and leisure travel and exploring a range of booking options.
- Travellers are exhibiting a proclivity for early planning and securing advantageous deals. This trend spans across all age groups, with a substantial 81% of consumers now strategising trips over a month in advance and 56% diligently planning 2-6 months ahead, signifying a notable shift towards strategic travel planning.
- While travel rewards have attained unprecedented popularity, there is a consensus that the booking experience necessitates improvement. Despite the fact that nearly all businesses with travel rewards in loyalty programmes (63%) offer booking capabilities, only 51% of consumers predominantly utilise loyalty programmes for bookings. This disparity may be attributed to challenges in providing travel recommendations (43% being a top concern for loyalty professionals) and the limited availability of appealing travel options (highlighted by 38% as a key shortcoming).
Brands should create specific strategies for different types of travel planners. The report indicates that various behaviours are observed, such as credit card loyalty members and high earners ($100k+) planning their trips well in advance and placing importance on having a variety of travel options in their loyalty programmes. Although initially using loyalty programme sites for planning, Millennials and Gen Z often switch to OTAs and direct suppliers to finalise their travel plans.