“Travellers surveyed highly engaged on mobile devices in the travel planning and booking process, researching destinations (48%), comparing flight and hotel options (47%), booking (40%), with a fifth (22%) having used an AI chatbot,” said the report released by Skyscanner. The report is a combination of consumer survey and proprietary search and booking data, analysed to provide a view of how travellers are thinking about their plans for the next 12 months, the company said adding the survey collected data from 18,000 consumers in 15 markets. The report forecast a positive outlook for 2024 in terms of travel demand, with 42% of travellers planning to travel more and 39% planning to spend more. Globally, the expected number of trips is set to increase to 2.7 from 2.3, it said adding, travellers from India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, UAE, and USA are the most intent on 2024 travel.
When it comes to planning the destination to travel to, cultural experiences top the 2024 agenda, the report said. Destination choice will be influenced not by just the weather (60%), food (58%) and culture (54%), but the overall ‘vibe’ (41%), it added. “In-destination activities also play a role, in particular local cuisine (46%), sightseeing (42%) and beach (40%),” the report said. Globally, YouTube is the top source of travel inspiration, followed by word-of-mouth recommendations (35%) and Instagram (33%), however there are big variations by market. Guidebooks (27%) and TikTok (21%) also feature, it added.
Europe, Middle East and Africa travellers are booking flights further in advance, with most booking over 90 days ahead for both short-haul and long-haul trips. They are seeking out smaller hidden gems away from larger cities. Top destinations include Rayong (Thailand), Ouarzazate (Morocco), Pristina (Kosovo), and Klagenfurt (Austria), the report said. Asia Pacific travellers show greater volatility in short-haul booking windows compared to other regions. For long-haul flights, there’s been a surge in last-minute bookings, it said, adding Japanese destinations dominate the top 10 list for APAC travellers with six cities featuring. This is evident of Japan’s recent bounce back after lifting its COVID restrictions.
Mike Ferguson, Director of Destination Marketing at Skyscanner commented: “The year 2023 has been a seminal year in travel. In all regions we see that travellers are highly engaged in the booking and planning process, searching for destination inspiration from a variety of sources and planning long-haul trips further in advance. Destination choice is increasingly influenced by not only cultural factors but also the particular ‘vibe’ that aligns with individual preferences and motivations.”
Hugh Aitken, VP of Strategic Relations and Development at Skyscanner said: “Airlines continue to restore and re-orientate their global networks to meet traveller demand. Countries such as India and Turkey have outlined ambitious plans and will be important drivers of both domestic and international air connectivity in 2024 and beyond. At the same time, travellers in many markets are signalling a willingness to upgrade their fares and build custom itineraries that provide them with the best value.”
Nick Hall, CEO of Digital Tourism Think Tank commented: “High travel propensity means destinations must focus on values and experiences. This report is a clear demonstration that travel is well and truly back, with propensity remaining high now and into the future, even amongst a climate of global economic uncertainty. With travel spending a key priority for consumers globally, destinations, along with their industry partners, must focus on value proposition more than ever. Honing in on what sits at the very core of the destination’s brand values is key to winning travellers’ hearts. Yet, driving demand, with timely product propositions, is key to shaping decisions.”
Marco Navarria, Global Content and Marketing Director at CAPA said: “As highlighted in the 2023/24 Skyscanner Horizons report, travellers are increasingly opting for connections to smaller niche markets over the major tourist destinations of years gone by. Recovery from the pandemic has allowed airlines to rebuild and expand their networks to explore new and different locations. This willingness to venture into new routes and build new markets supported the rebuild of global capacity to pre-pandemic levels in 2023. There are increased expectations that airlines will go beyond this in 2024, connecting the globe better than ever before.”