f you’ve been watching travel trends over the years, you may have noticed a pattern. Typically, the trends change only slightly, and successful marketing strategies stay largely the same. Then there’s 2024: one of those years where travelers are packing a whole new set of rules, and making minor adjustments in your marketing strategy isn’t going to cut it.
According to Expedia’s annual travel trends report, 2024 will come with an entirely new travel vibe check, including trends like “bleisure” travel, tour tourism, and dry tripping. Read on to find out what it all means and how you can capitalize on a host of new opportunities.
1. Tour Tourism
How far would you travel to see your favorite band perform live? Around 44 percent of people said they would use a concert as the reason to visit a new location in 2024, and the more niche the artist, the farther they’re willing to go. After years of not having access to live shows, music lovers are more than ready to book their vacations based on where they can get their hands on some coveted tickets.
Your opportunity: Get to know your local music scene – keep a comprehensive concert calendar, get to know the local promoters, and create a marketing plan that positions your property as a home base for all of your guests’ musical adventures. Keep in mind, too, that some artists who aren’t considered “mainstream” attract huge crowds. Get to know all the musical acts heading your way – not just the ones you’re already familiar with – and target your messaging to those fans.
2. Dry Tripping
Think of dry tripping as the opposite of a trip to Key West, Bourbon Street, or Napa Valley. While some travelers relish the chance to drink and be merry while they’re away from the real world, more and more people want to experience vacation mindfully – sober, grounded, and living in the moment. It’s about more than just drinks, too. Travelers are in pursuit of wellness-related activities like yoga or meditation retreats and seeking the comfiest of hotel beds.
Your opportunity: Half of travelers said they would be interested in staying at hotels that offer alcohol-free drink options, like non-alcoholic beer or mocktails. It’s an easy way to get even more creative with your drink menu with offerings like CBD-infused beverages. Beyond that, you can offer amenities, classes, and local partnerships that position your destination as a true oasis, home to the complete wellness experience.
3. Vibe Check
Price, availability, and amenities are all still important deciding factors in choosing lodging, but travelers are looking for something else, too – the vibe. According to Expedia, 90 percent of travelers say a property’s vibe is important to them, and some of the top vibe-related searches these days include artsy, beachy, cozy, and modern.
Your opportunity: This may feel like a tough concept to nail down, especially when retro, historic, and vintage vibes are three different things. But one of the best ways to create a vibe for your property is to lean into what you already have and play on your strengths. Refresh furniture and design, update your brand story to include atmosphere, create a marketing plan to get the word out, and target the travelers who, well, vibe.
4. Local Cultural Immersion
Tourists are increasingly ditching prefab, tourist-y attractions in favor of getting to know the local culture. This can be anything from savoring local cuisine to hiking and exploring the surrounding scenery. And while it’s true that not every property is at the foot of a picturesque volcano or in the heart of a world cultural center, there are always ways to show off the local community.
Your opportunity: Invest in content marketing that showcases not only your property, but everything that’s within a reasonable driving or walking distance. On-site, offer an “Adventure Like a Local” printed or digital guide during check-in. If you already have a digital assistant or chatbot in place, enable it to make dinner reservations at local restaurants. You could even have a well-known local chef prepare meals as a guest in your property’s restaurant. Then, once you have your campaign in place, promote it everywhere – blogs, social media, newsletters, and whatever other tactics work best for your campaign. (Hawthorn Creative has an expert staff of content developers, writers, designers, and social media pros who can help!)
It’s exactly the mashup you’d expect – a blend of business and leisure travel. Remote work typically equals “I can work from anywhere,” and mobile employees are taking advantage of the opportunity to both work and play. It happens in two main forms: individuals who need or want to work from new destinations, and group business travel extended by a day or two for some out-of-office fun.
Your opportunity: To attract bleisure travelers to your property, your first consideration is whether you can accommodate group travel (and are in a destination packed with off-site activities) or if your hotel is more apropos for solo explorers. If your property is ideal for group business travel, consider a targeted marketing campaign that speaks directly to travel decision-makers – which may include B2B advertising as well.
If you lack the space for large groups, it’s still about targeted, customized messaging. One additional option is to cater to the business travelers’ families. According to a recent survey, 57 percent of employees confessed to booking business trips to destinations they know their loved ones would enjoy. Be sure to highlight the amenities and local attractions that will keep family and friends busy during work hours.
For both group and solo business travelers, a business-oriented loyalty program can also be successful – especially to attract repeat guests.
Do you know what all of these travel trends have in common for marketing? Starting with buyer personas. Create the ideal customers for your property – as vastly different as they might be – and develop creative that speaks directly to them.