The new year is on the horizon and we’re always on the lookout for what’s next in travel to help our destination clients stay ahead of the curve.

Some of the top hotel and travel brands have weighed in, and so have we. Take note of these key travel trends coming in 2024, along with examples of how to incorporate them into your marketing strategy for the new year.  

Culinary experiences: a key driver of leisure travel 

Dining, culture, and connections are inspiring leisure travel decisions as people increasingly prioritize the purchase of experiences over things. Next year, foodies will reign supreme, and experiencing culture through food is a goal for travelers in 2024.

Marriott’s 2024 travel trends report shows that travelers are hungry forauthentic and iconic food, and are even willing to plan trips around specific restaurants and dishes.Today’s travelers want to learn about new cultures through cuisine, particularly by exploring local food and beverages and by immersing themselves in the regional flavors.

  • 57% of travelers are looking to find local cuisine and food specialties.
  • 78% of travelers want fresh flavors vs. tried and true options.
  • 61% prioritize learning about the origins of a destination’s iconic dish.

How to turn insight into action

Put your destination’s food at the forefront of marketing. Restaurants are important to travelers and have high value when it comes to search intent. Dive deep into SEO and learn what travelers are looking for when it is time to eat at your destination. Review your findings and create blogs and other content based on those topics. Connect with local food influencers to create UGC content that shows off your destination’s food scene. 

Choose Chicago highlights the city’s diverse and exciting food scene with Chicago Restaurant Week, a 17-day celebration featuring prix fixe menus around the city. The smorgasbord kicks off with the First Bites Bash, an exclusive tasting event held at the Field Museum. The annual extravaganza is a tempting time for foodies from around the region to visit the city in search of deals and new cuisines.

Another example that leverages the power of pop culture—fans of ‘The Bear’ TV show can follow Carmey, Richie, and Sydney’s footsteps and learn about some of Chicago’s tastiest neighborhoods while eating some of Chicago’s best bites on the Yes, Chef! Bear-Inspired Food Tour.  

Supporting self-improvement and wellness journeys

According to all three forecasts, wellness will continue to be a significant focus in 2024. The Marriott report found that travelers are craving more experiences beyond the typical spa, including active wellness opportunities like jiu-jitsu, hiking, or yoga. Creative fitness classes, informative workshops, and nutritious dining, will also be top of mind for wellness-seeking travelers. found many travelers believe travel is a transformative opportunity and many hope to use travel to deepen their connection with themselves in 2024. 

How to turn insight into action

Feature self-care and wellness businesses and amenities in your destination content and marketing. Inspire wellness trips to your destination by creating specific itineraries that cater to travelers looking to experience self-care and relaxation.

DMOs can execute also this introspective vision by using user-generated content to allow the user to visualize their “main character energy” and inspire a trip.

Another important aspect of self care, travelers will be investing in their sleep in 2024, so wellness itineraries could feature hotels with luxury bedding for the perfect night’s sleep.

Finally, consider highlighting unique outdoor activities as well. Campspot’s 2024 survey found that travelers are interested in slowing down and spending time in nature in 2024. 

For travelers seeking some true “me time”, Visit Galena embraces its status as the perfect adult getaway. Their content and creative choices show visitors how to make time for themselves through unique experiences like hiking with goats, scent workshops, carving classes, and more—a perfect balance for those looking to learn new skills, then relax at award-winning spas and resorts. 

Affordability–this, not that: travel edition 

With inflation and interest rates climbing, affordability is often at the forefront of travelers’ minds as they look to save in every category, especially travel.

TikTok popularized the idea of “dupes”, or more affordable alternatives to popular products, and this concept is increasingly taking off in travel as Destination Dupes. In addition to savings, less obvious alternatives offer fewer crowds, tend to be a little unexpected, and can be every bit as delightful as the tried-and-true destinations. surveydata supports this trend, showing that American travelers are planning on traveling in 2024 but hoping to stretch their dollar further. 

  • 58% of American travelers plan to pick destinations in 2024 where the cost of living is less expensive than their hometown 
  • 60% said traveling closer to home is also a draw, searching for luxe-for-less copycat vacations to reduce costs in 2024
  • 64% of families said they plan to take their children out of school to travel outside of peak season 

How to turn insight into action

Create content consistently highlighting free and affordable things to do in your destination. For instance, Visit Cincy is an affordable destination with many free attractions and free transportation. In their 2023 leisure campaign, affordability was at the center of the messaging to help get the word out. They have several landing pages featuring affordable things to do. This Affordable Adventures trip ideas page acts as a hub for affordable and free things to do in Cincy.

Throughout the campaign, we created blog post itineraries that highlighted affordable things to do during different seasons like planning an affordable spring break and savvy ways to save on a summer trip in Cincy

Embracing the unknown

Travel is typically something people plan for months so this may seem like a counterintuitive trend for DMOs to consider. However, in 2024, research suggests travelers are ready to embrace the unknown and enjoy an unfamiliar experience. 

The Marriott forecast found, “Travelers are increasingly seeking authentic experiences from a local perspective and looking to discover hidden gems off the beaten path.”

How to turn insight into action

Your potential visitors want to see the less-trafficked, more off-the-beaten-path aspects of your destination — so make it easy for them to discover your best kept secrets. 

Our friends in Northern Kentucky are helping travelers embrace the unknown with their Off the Beaten Path blog series. The series spotlights under-the-radar finds and things to do, offering a local perspective on festivals, shopping, places to stay, and beyond. This type of content helps satiate visitors’ desire to explore the road less traveled and connects them with the area’s best hidden gems. 

Opportunities abound in the coming year for the travel industry and brands that embrace these trends while staying true to their destination’s story are sure to see success.

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