Culture and Experiences Driving Leisure Travel Decisions for 2024

Several themes emerged when Hilton surveyed more than 10,000 travelers from nine countries to learn more about what each traveling generation values most about their time away from home. One, in particular, stood out. It was “culture and experiences will drive leisure travel decisions.” Another theme, according to the 2024 Trends Report titled “What Millennials, Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomers Tell Us About Travel in the Year Ahead,” is that travelers will value connectivity and personalization.

The trend away from material items for experiences appears to continue. Following the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of global travelers (64 percent) say they aim to reduce other areas of their personal spending to prioritize leisure travel in 2024. This is especially true for Gen Z (72 percent) and Millennials (71 percent), who also plan to spend more on travel in 2024.

When they travel, these groups are increasingly interested in great food and beverage, exploration and adventure, and connecting with people and local cultures. As they budget for 2024, across generations, approximately half of travelers’ top focus is on culinary experiences. There is widespread interest in eating local and regional cuisine (86 percent), as well as having a good restaurant within their hotel (82 percent).

Second to culinary experiences, nearly half of travelers will prioritize exploration and adventure, with Gen Z and Millennials (52 percent each) carving out more budget for these types of experiences than other generations. Travelers across all generations are also looking to build and strengthen connections with people and cultures. This could include the approximately 45 percent of each generation traveling to reconnect with friends and family, or it could mean the 40 percent of global travelers who want to learn about different cultures and/or destinations.

Note: While experiencing the destination and local culture is a top reason for travel in 2024, two-thirds of travelers admit the subject of environmental change can be overwhelming as they consider their vacation plans. Millennials (72 percent), Gen Z (69 percent) and Gen X (63 percent) are in most agreement on this. “Now more than ever, guests are looking for brands that are embracing purpose and doing good for both people and the planet in the destinations where they travel,” the report says. Having some insight on sustainable hotels and travel practices will surely help calm the nerves of travelers who feel overwhelmed by travel’s impact on climate change.

Additional Intel

Regardless of generation, the No. 1 reason people want to travel in 2024 is to rest and recharge, led by Gen X (68 percent) and Baby Boomers (67 percent).

As for what type of hotel property they’re seeking, six in 10 travelers across all ages prefer resort destinations (with response rate ranging from 56 percent among Gen Z to 62 percent among Baby Boomers). The other four in 10 prefer city destinations, led by Baby Boomers (62 percent), with the other three cohorts ranging from a 39 to 44 percent response rate.

Loyalty is also a consideration for travel planning across all generations, with three in five travelers booking consistently with one brand or one credit card to maximize their benefits. Millennials are thinking about maximizing their benefits the most when booking, with 67 percent prioritizing their loyalty programs when planning travel. (Gen Z followed at 64 percent.)

It would also be wise to invest in an app to connect with clients. While on the road, 76 percent of global travelers appreciate travel apps that reduce the friction and stress of travel.

Source: Hilton

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