From maintaining personal wellness to having cultural experiences, several travel trends are emerging this year, according to a new report by Hilton. The hotel brand’s third-annual Trends Report—which includes survey results from the Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer generations—highlights consumer trends anticipated to define travel this year and shares “generational insights” that are driving “industry innovation.”

Topping the survey list by Hilton is personal wellness—people want to travel to rest and recharge. This is, of course, good news for Hilton because it is in the business of offering pleasant places to rest and rejuvenate. But beyond rest in a comfy bed, travelers of all ages are seeking respite from their hectic schedules and want some down time.

Group planners looking to tap this trend might do well planning tours in resort communities and places that offer a lowkey stay with options for self-care. Places that offer spas, nature hikes, and pleasant eateries are items to consider.

“As the world holds onto a renewed sense of wanderlust following the pandemic,” reads the Trends Report, “64% of global travelers say they aim to reduce other areas of personal spending to prioritize leisure travel in 2024. This is especially true for Gen Z and Millennials,” who widely responded they plan to spend more on travel this year.

Kevin Jacobs, Hilton’s chief financial officer and president of global development, explains that even with “ongoing macro-economic uncertainty,” travel remains strong, and people of all generational groups say they want their trips to be meaningful, and, as such, they plan to “prioritize the value of experiences and connections” over material objects. “We see this across each of our segments and regions,” he says. “Additionally, the lines between business and leisure travel continue to blur.”

Glacier National Park, Montana;
Credit: Unsplash/Cole Allen

The Trends Report followed a global survey of more than 10,000 travelers from nine countries, according to Hilton, as well as online video diaries and in-depth interviews.

American Express, which also tapped emerging trends for this year, similar to Hilton’s report, also mentioned in its 2024 Global Travel Trends Report that people want to recharge. However, Audrey Hendley, president of American Express Travel, says people are interested in booking trips that offer more “unique” experiences.

The survey, conducted Jan. 1-Feb. 8 among 2,005 U.S. adults and more than 6,000 adults in six different foreign countries, found 84% of respondents plan to spend more or the same amount of money on travel this year compared to last year; 89% are planning to use “travel hacks” such as traveling during off-peak times or using credit card points to save money; and 77% of respondents in all generational groups say they care more about the right travel experience than about the cost of the trip.

Group planners have a unique opportunity by tapping these trends. They can create itineraries that cater to clients’ travel expectations, and by so doing help them create lasting memories without overburdening them with too many attractions. Instead, focusing on sites that have the potential to impact clients’ memories long-term will help ensure they’ll want to come back for more time and time again.

Another emerging trend from the Hilton survey found that 80% of all travelers, in all generational groups, believe “it’s important to be able to book their trip entirely online.” In another report, this one by Statista, online sales are expected to account for 76% of total revenue in the travel and tourism market by 2028. It also said the United States is expected to generate the most revenue in this market, reaching $199 billion this year alone.

By Andrew Weeks

Main Image: Sequoia National Park, California; Credit: Adobe/Image Source