The past year was another year of change in the travel industry, from major loyalty program updates (not all of them good) to evolutions in what travelers want out of their vacations. We saw trends predicted in early 2023 play out, such as the rise in popularity of all-inclusive resorts and a move toward pay-to-play elite status programs.
Many of those trends have continued into 2024, and the industry continues to adjust to increased travel demand while having to address issues such as climate change and overtourism.
We might finally see the end of revenge travel, but if all indications are correct, 2024 (like 2023) will continue to outpace 2019 in travel volume. The desire for up-and-coming destinations and new experiences is still on the rise, as is the use of new technology in the industry.
Check out highlights from the second annual TPG Travel Trends Report below, which covers the state of travel today and the trends to keep an eye on. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or just starting out, there are takeaways in this report for everyone.
Where travelers are going
Top destinations of 2024
Each year, TPG releases a list of the best places to travel, including destinations from all over the world that our team of in-house experts and contributors believe are the most exciting places to visit in the coming year.
For 2024, there’s no question as to why France topped our list.
Paris is set to host the 2024 Olympics (though events will also be taking place at stadiums throughout the country), Strasbourg will be UNESCO’s 2024 World Book Capital, and this year will mark 80 years since the D-Day landings in Normandy (with commemorative events being held throughout the region).
Other top destinations featured in the report include:
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- San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico
- Assam, India
- Destinations along the eclipse path in the U.S.
- Queensland, Australia
Experiences worth traveling for
Specific destinations aren’t the only tourism driver for 2024. Concerts, festivals and other major events (such as the eclipse that will be seen in the U.S. this year) have led to major spikes in demand around the world as travelers prioritize experiences.
Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” was a major cultural moment in 2023, and with more international legs of her tour kicking off in 2024, the impact her concerts have on local economies and the travel industry at large will continue.
Concerts aren’t the only experience driving travel. “Set-jetting” to destinations showcased in popular TV shows is seeing a return to popularity, reminiscent of the flock of tourists who visited Croatia when the iconic “Game of Thrones” show was at its peak in the mid-2010s. And for families, long weekends at regional theme parks are growing in popularity.
But as destinations continue to experience high travel demand, some are taking steps to curb overtourism.
Big boats turn slowly, as they say, and the cruise industry is no different. Many of the trends we saw on the rise in 2023 are continuing into 2024. Mainstream cruise lines are launching larger ships to serve more passengers, and luxury lines continue to provide more intimate experiences.
But a trend we’re seeing take shape on the horizon is the increase in private beach escapes. Multiple mainstream cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line, have plans to open new private beaches and islands to spice up itineraries throughout 2024 and into 2025.
Where travelers are staying
In the hotel sphere, new brands are continuing to pop up with a focus on residential-style accommodations and technology upgrades. These new luxury-minded brands are set to compete in a space that has historically been dominated by Airbnb.
More space and residential amenities will also be available to families and friend groups who travel together in 2024.
The rise in multigenerational trips, extended-family vacations and friend getaways has led to a bigger appetite for more space when booking accommodations. When it comes to actually offering that additional space, family-friendly resorts in Orlando are ahead of the curve.
How travelers are getting there
As the demand for travel continues to grow, so does the number of flights to in-demand destinations. Airlines are adding what can be called “super-haul” flights — currently the longest flights in the world — some clocking in at over 18 hours of flight time. Think New York to Singapore or London to Perth, Australia.
Also on the rise are nontraditional carriers such as Sun Country Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Avelo Airlines and Breeze Airways. More often than not, these carriers offer budget airfare, no frills and service to underserved markets across the U.S.
As the U.S. competes for its share of global travelers, airports are getting makeovers thanks in part to federal infrastructure funding. Major hubs across the country have projects on the books or already in the works, such as Los Angeles, Newark, Salt Lake City and Denver — with more to come in the years ahead.
Along with airport renovations come new traveler amenities — aka airport lounges — and already in 2024, we’ve seen shiny new lounges launched in New York City, Denver and Washington, with more on the way. Lounge overcrowding became such an issue that many card issuers changed program guidelines to curb the number of travelers with access. Looking ahead, lounge operators will continue to look for ways to offer services for travelers, such as Delta Air Lines’ “grab-and-go.”
Qualifying for airline elite status has changed, with spending requirements now making up a large portion of the qualification process. On American Airlines, you could technically reach elite status through cobranded credit card spending without flying a single flight. Similarly, Delta Air Lines’ recent program changes rely solely on Medallion Qualification Dollars.
Another trend that’s gaining popularity in the travel industry is the use of AI. Chatbots have become an increasingly popular way to answer basic customer inquiries, and service robots have been spotted in airport lounges. Expect to see more experimentation in the coming years as brands look to increase productivity while not sacrificing sales.
How travelers are paying
Credit cards are getting more expensive — not unlike other expenses, from groceries to housing. Annual fees for popular travel credit cards have been rising in recent years, and that trend will likely continue throughout 2024.
Additionally, credit card benefits are shifting to include more and more statement credits that are merchant-specific with plenty of restrictions — making some cards feel more like metal coupon cards.
Bottom line: Looking ahead for 2024
All signs point to another year of growth across the travel industry. As the Department of Transportation keeps an eye on overall airline performance, travelers can start to gain back confidence in on-time performance and airlines handling service issues more efficiently.
Airlines, hotels and cruise lines have all invested in ways to accommodate even more travelers with bigger planes, new routes, residential-style lodging and larger ships. But with the continued boom in travel, devaluations to loyalty programs, higher credit card annual fees and harder-to-use benefits do pose a challenge to some travelers looking to use points and miles to fund their experiences.
That said, there’s still a lot to look forward to across the travel industry. Expect technology enhancements to play a larger role in travel experiences, from planning to booking and arrival, as travelers seek out new and unique experiences around the world.