Music has the power to move us, make us dance. In some cases it can prompt us to travel across cities, states, and even countries to be in the presence of our favorite live performances. According to Expedia’s annual travel report, the “tour tourism” trend that spiked last year is not taking a bow anytime soon. In fact, an encore is anticipated this year.
Tour tourism is popular for many reasons, no less than the shared experiences it creates for people: gathering in a group to partake in the same music and entertainment. It is a trend expected to continue for the foreseeable future, according to the numbers. It also has very real economic dividends.
Take last year for example: It’s estimated that fans of Taylor Swift—also known as “Swifties”—averaged $1,300 in travel spending, including food and hotel stays, during the singer’s Eras Tour. Combined, Swifties have directly impacted the economy by spending about $5 billion in destination trips around the U.S., according to the U.S. Travel Association—although it says that calculation is likely a conservative estimate and the actual value could be closer to $10 billion. “That amount of spending is on par with the Super Bowl, but this time it happened on 53 different nights in 20 different locations over the course of five months,” according to the Association. “Downtowns across the country have enjoyed an influx of visitors—and a spending boost—thanks to Taylor Swift.”
But music fans are not only traveling distances for big-name shows; they are also willing to go farther for music festivals and other types of live entertainment. Expect these trends to continue. Future Marketing Insight, for instance, projects the global music tourism market will top $14 billion by 2033, up from $5.91 billion in 2023.
Group travel organizations have an advantage while planning entertainment-focused trips because they can create packages that cater to the trends. In doing so, group planners should stay abreast of entertainment options—including where concerts and festivals are being planned and which ones attract a higher number of visitors—so they can plan trips accordingly. Since more people continue to spend money on these types of trips, it makes sense for group tour planners and operators to ensure their organizations have some of the available offerings.
Promoting entertainment travel options on social media also can help group tour planners and operators plan for more festival-oriented trips. According to American Express, 75% of recent travelers have been inspired by social media to a specific destination.
Another trend expected in the travel industry is something dubbed “dry tripping,” or non-imbibing getaways in which alcohol is off the itinerary. Expedia says more than 40% of respondents to its travel trends survey responded by saying “they’re likely to book a detox trip” this year, with more than half of travelers noting they “would be interested in staying at a hotel that offers easily accessible alcohol-free options such as mocktails.”
Several of these “dry tripping” stays, curated by Hotel.com, are overseas, but at least a couple of domestic destinations are also on the list: the Ette Hotel in Orlando, Florida, and Wynn Las Vegas in Nevada.
Overall, 64% of travelers surveyed by Hilton say they plan to reduce areas of personal spending and “prioritize leisure travel” this year. “This is especially true for Gen Z and Millennials, who also plan to spend more on travel in 2024.”
By Andrew Weeks
Main Image: Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Credit: Meet Minneapolis/Nikolas Liepins