White Lotus, Taylor Swift and AI: What’re the hot trends in Expedia’s Unpack ’24?

White Lotus, Taylor Swift and AI: What’re the hot trends in Expedia’s Unpack ’24?
Edited by Travel Weekly


    Expedia Group brands (Expedia, Wotif and Stayz) unveiled Unpack ’24, a comprehensive look at what’s motivating travellers and where they’re going next year.

    Based on the company’s first-party travel data, plus a global consumer survey of 20,000 travellers, Unpack ’24 includes eight new travel trends for 2024, from top destinations to what’s next in travel tech.

    “With ‘Unpack ’24′ we delve deep into our insights across our Expedia Brands to uncover unexpected destinations and intriguing motivations behind people’s travel choices,” said Daniel Finch, Expedia Brands MD.

    “Whether it’s visiting a regional ‘glow up’ destination to check out a new opening, or travelling to see Taylor Swift or Coldplay in concert, these trends define the landscape of travel in 2024.”

    Expedia ‒ Destination Dupes

    The “dupe” trend — affordable alternatives to popular products — that has flooded TikTok feeds is now taking over travel. Expedia’s 2024 destinations of the year are destination dupes — places that are a little unexpected, sometimes more affordable, and every bit as delightful as the tried-and-true destinations travellers love.

    The 2024 destination dupes all experienced a notable uptick in searches over the past year. In fact, global searches for the Top 5 destinations on the list more than doubled YoY.

    • Taipei (dupe for Seoul)
    • Pattaya (dupe for Bangkok)
    • Paros (dupe for Santorini)
    • Curaçao (dupe for St. Martin)
    • Perth (dupe for Sydney)
    • Liverpool (dupe for London)
    • Palermo (dupe for Lisbon)
    • Quebec City (dupe for Geneva)
    • Sapporo (dupe for Zermatt)
    • Memphis (dupe for Nashville)

    Expedia ‒ Tour Tourism

    In 2023, the cultural impact of the Eras and Renaissance tours was undeniable, driving ticket sales but also travel and tourism. Expedia predicts that Tour Tourism will continue to thrive in 2024.

    Over 60 per cent of Australian survey respondents say they are likely to travel to a concert outside their own town, with over 40 per cent saying they’d travel for a concert as an excuse to visit a new place. In a new twist to Tour Tourism perhaps driven by ticket prices, 30 per cent of travellers say they would travel outside of their home city for a concert because tickets were cheaper elsewhere. Unexpected places on Expedia’s list of top tour tourism destinations are Kuala Lumpur, Edmonton, and Mexico City.

    Expedia – 2024 Set-jetting Forecast

    For 2023, Expedia predicted travellers would turn to television sets and movie screens for travel inspiration. They did, and the trend shows no signs of stopping in 2024. Over 40 per cent of travellers say they’ve researched or booked a trip to a destination after seeing it on a TV show or movie, and almost 20 per cent admit that TV shows and films are even more influential on their travel plans than they were before. In fact, travellers say TV shows influence their travel decisions more than Instagram, TikTok and podcasts.

    FOUR SEASONS SAN DOMENICO – the setting of White Lotus Season 2

    Given the popularity of this travel trend, Expedia compiled its first-ever Set-jetting Forecast predicting what entertainment-inspired destinations travellers will head to in 2024, based on upcoming show and film releases and travel data from Expedia Group.

    • Thailand inspired by “The White Lotus” season 3.
    • Romania inspired by “Wednesday” season 2.
    • Malta inspired by the new “Gladiator 2” film.
    • Paris inspired by “Emily in Paris” season 4.
    • Scottish Highlands inspired by the remaining seasons of “Outlander.”
    • London, Bath and Windsor, UK inspired by the new season of “Bridgerton” and “The Crown” season 6.
    • Korea inspired by “Squid Game” season 2.
    • Florida Keys & Bahamas inspired by the new Apple TV show “Bad Monkey.”
    • Australia inspired by both Baz Luhrmann’s “Faraway Downs” and the Mad Max prequel Furiosa.”
    • Greece inspired by new spy action thriller “Argylle.”

    Wotif ‒ Dry Tripping

    From observing Feb Fast to Dry July, it’s clear that living a low- or alcohol-free lifestyle is becoming more common. With more and more beverage brands releasing non-alcoholic products, 2024 is set to be the year the travel industry really starts to recognise the sober-curious traveller, as close to 40 per cent of Australians say they’re interested in staying at a hotel that offers easily accessible alcohol-free options.

    The top reason Aussies are drinking less on holiday is to save money, followed by the ability to stay in control and feel better emotionally and physically, with 14 per cent saying while hotels and restaurants in Australia’s capital cities are starting to offer more non-alcoholic options, they’re yet to, and would like to see this trend in smaller Australian towns.

    Wotif ‒ Regional Glow Ups

    While the beauty industry may have coined the term, now regional Australia is getting its very own glow up – a play on the phrase grow-up, typically used to describe a significant transformation in appearance and style.

    As iconic Sydney restaurants establish a name for themselves in regional towns and world-class hotels pop up outside of the city centres, they may seem like familiar destinations, but thanks to a handful of new openings, they now offer a whole new experience.

    QT Newcastle

    Almost 2 in 5 Aussies say travelling to new and different regional towns has increased in appeal over recent years, with 34 per cent saying one or two new openings is enough to make them want to travel to a particular destination. Examples of destinations hot on the radar of travellers include Newcastle NSW, Kirra QLD, Geelong VIC, Bellingen NSW and Lorne VIC.

    Stayz ‒ Alternate Occasions

    Puppymoons, First-date-iversaries, and retirement-parties are in the cards for travellers in 2024. One in 4 say they are looking for ‘any excuse’ to get away with their loved ones. With almost one-third of travellers planning to take more trips with family and friends next year than in 2023, they’re going all in on identifying occasions to book a getaway to a private holiday home to celebrate together.

    In addition to annual anniversaries and milestone birthdays, interestingly, work-related occasions are one of the most popular trip catalysts — many travellers would book a weekender to celebrate retirement, getting a new job, a promotion, quitting a job.

    Stayz: Outside In

    It’s no surprise the pool is often the most sought-after holiday home amenity in Australia, but now other outdoor amenities, like cold plunges, lawn games and manicured gardens are dictating what private holiday home families and friends are booking for group getaways.

    Survey data shows that almost half of travellers book holiday homes with amenities they either cannot afford to have at home, or that they want to try out before they buy themselves. Furthermore, 1 in 4 say they would choose a holiday home with outdoor amenities, so they’d never have to leave the property.

    Cynthiana

    The trending types of outdoor amenities travellers want:

    • Relaxation and rejuvenation: properties with a hot tub, cold plunge or barrel sauna
    • Roaring fires: homes with a fire pit, barbecue or outdoor kitchen
    • Sports and recreation: properties that have amenities like ping-pong tables, tennis courts and lawn games
    • Fresh produce: travellers want holiday homes with access to fruit trees or a vegetable patch

    Gen Gen AI

    While generative AI tools like ChatGPT took centre stage in 2023, only 15 per cent of Australian travellers used it to plan their trip.

    4 In 2024, Expedia Group predicts the “generation of generative AI” travellers will come of age and fully embrace this tech throughout their travel journey. In fact, survey data reveals that one third of travellers are interested in using generative AI to plan their next trip, and 20% say it’s very useful when making travel plans.

    What’s driving this trend? Generative AI’s ability to simplify planning and shopping through a conversation. Nearly 40 per cent of travellers say they would use this tech to find the perfect stay, 33 per cent would compare flight options, 30 per cent would plan activities and things to do, and almost 15 per cent of travellers would change or cancel their travel plans.

    (Featured Image: FOUR SEASONS SAN DOMENICO – the setting of White Lotus Season 2)

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