Welcome to the 2024 edition of Hotelchamp’s travel industry insights, where we delve into the trends shaping hospitality's future. As the industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, it's crucial for hoteliers to stay ahead of the curve. This year, we're seeing a dynamic shift in guest preferences, marketing strategies, and technological advancements that are transforming the way we approach the hotel experience. From the growing influence of video content and Gen Z's spending power to the rise of sustainability and fan tourism, these trends offer a roadmap for innovative and successful hotel operations. Join us as we explore these key trends and provide actionable insights for hoteliers to navigate this ever-changing landscape.

1. The power of video for decision-making

As we move into 2024, video is taking centre stage in marketing playbooks. On Pinterest, people view videos differently than they do images. In fact, they scroll three times slower than they do on other social platforms. When slowing down the consumption of content, your brand is much more likely to be remembered and it’s more likely that action will be taken. Much like the way people slow down when encountering captivating video content on platforms like Pinterest, videos have a unique power to engage potential guests. It's not just about showing off the amenities anymore; it's about storytelling and creating a connection.

For instance, think about how different images and visuals affect engagement on different social media platforms. It’s the same with video content. In an age where people are becoming increasingly ad-averse, videos offer a way to break through people’s own mental ad blockers. But it’s crucial that these videos don’t scream 'advertisement' in the traditional sense, especially when targeting younger generations.

“Pinterest is seeing that people are engaging with video content. So they're actually able to see that when video is appearing, people are slowing down on the platform." - Victoria Sweeney, Head of Marketing & Operations

What does the trend of video in decision-making mean for hotels?

Embrace the digital age by integrating engaging video content into your hotel's online presence. This could range from virtual tours that let guests peek into your world, to stories that bring your hotel's unique narrative to life. Remember, it's not just about showcasing amenities; it's about creating a connection. Consider these videos as digital storytelling tools that can capture the essence of your guest experience. This will make your hotel more than just a place to stay, but a story to be part of.

A person creating video content.
Creating video content is about telling a story and creating a connection.

2. Gen Z the growing powerhouse of travel spending

Gen Z is stepping up as a significant driving force in the travel industry, reshaping how hotels approach marketing and guest experiences. This generation, born between 1997 and 2012, currently makes up over 25% of the global population and will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025. Because of this, they have the potential to be a big portion of travel spenders. Understanding this demographic's travel preferences and spending habits is vital. Unlike millennials and older generations who might rely on written content like blogs, Gen Z gravitates towards video platforms like TikTok and YouTube for travel planning. 63% of Gen Z in MENA have turned to YouTube as their go-to source for gathering information on recent purchases. This is particularly noticeable in decisions involving high-end items. There, YouTube plays a pivotal role in guiding their choices between products and influencing their final purchase decisions.

Hotels looking to capture this market need to think beyond traditional marketing strategies. It's about tapping into the platforms where Gen Z lives and breathes. With this generation's penchant for video content, hotels can leverage short, engaging videos to showcase their offerings and entice this young, vibrant crowd.

“I haven't looked at a blog in ages. If I'm looking for travel tips, recipes, things like that, first I'll look up a short version of what I'm trying to find on TikTok. Then, if I want to get more in-depth information about something I’ll probably go on YouTube." - Cristiana Vlaiconi, Marketing Assistant

What does Gen Z's growing influence on travel spending mean for hotels?

Tap into the vibrant world of Gen Z by aligning your hotel's marketing efforts with their digital habits. This dynamic demographic is all about video content, making platforms like TikTok and YouTube your new best friends. Think engaging, short-form videos that showcase your hotel and offer a glimpse into the experiences that await. Collaborations with influencers who resonate with this group can also amplify your reach, making your hotel a go-to destination for the young and adventurous.

People spending time at a skate park.
Gen Z has different ways of looking for information—think short-form videos instead of blogs.

3. Travellers’ push for environmental responsibility

Sustainability has evolved from a buzzword to a critical driver of consumer decisions, particularly in the travel sector. With more than 75% of people believing that businesses should actively reduce their carbon emissions, the demand for eco-friendly travel options is surging. This calls for hotels to not only embrace sustainable practices but also to effectively communicate these efforts to their guests.

This trend extends beyond simply claiming 'green' credentials. It's about embedding sustainability into the very fabric of marketing efforts. Hotels must visually represent their commitment to the environment, whether it's through showcasing electric vehicle charging stations or highlighting eco-friendly amenities. This approach normalises a culture of sustainability and promotes environmentally conscious behaviours. For business travellers, especially those whose companies have set sustainability targets, it's crucial that hotels don’t just talk the talk, but also walk the walk in their sustainable initiatives.

“I was thinking about a hotel where we actually saw sustainability used as a direct booking benefit. So if you book direct on their official channel, you can compensate your CO2 footprint. And they're really focused on sustainability. So they really like to use this as a direct booking benefit versus OTAs because at certain OTAs, they cannot compensate their CO2 footprint in the booking engine.” - Amber van der Neut, Director of Customer Success and Data
"A lot of business travellers will work at companies that have these sustainability targets. That sustainability element is something that they will have to take into consideration when booking their trip." - Victoria Sweeney, Head of Marketing & Operations

What does the focus on sustainability mean for hotels?

It's time to turn your green practices into a highlight of your hotel's story. Dedicate space on your website to showcase your sustainable initiatives. From waste management to local partnerships, let your guests see the steps you're taking to make a difference. Consider offering direct booking benefits like CO2 footprint compensation to appeal to the eco-conscious traveller. Remember, it's not just about being green; it's about showing your guests that you care for the planet as much as they do.

Person installing a solar panel on a roof.
The demand for eco-friendly travel options is surging.

4. Capitalizing on fan tourism (including set tourism and sports)

As we delve into 2024, the landscape of travel is increasingly shaped by the concept of fan tourism, extending beyond sports events like the Paris Olympics in 2024 and Formula 1 races. This flourishing trend encapsulates various interests, including set tourism, music concerts, and popular culture, reflecting the evolving preferences of modern travellers. Hotels are now poised to tap into this diverse market by offering experiences that resonate with their guests' passions. Whether it's for a sports event, a beloved TV show, a music concert, or a video game gathering, these thematic experiences offer a unique opportunity for hotels to engage with a wide range of interests.

This shift is notably driven by Gen Z, a demographic deeply embedded in fan culture. In fact, 75% identify with fandoms related to TV shows, anime, musicians, and video games. These interests present a rich opportunity for hotels to create immersive experiences that align with the narratives and characters cherished by their guests. Moreover, 44% of US travellers are willing to travel short distances for live performances and 18% considering longer journeys. This indicates a strong inclination to combine travel with personal interests, especially in younger generations. This makes fan tourism a potent segment in the travel industry.

For hotels, the rising trend of fan tourism is not just an opportunity to increase bookings. It’s a chance to create lasting impressions. By engaging with fans through social media, designing packages around popular events, and immersing guests in experiences that celebrate their fandoms, hotels can enhance the overall guest experience. This approach not only attracts a diverse range of guests. It also embeds the hotel into the larger narrative that resonates with these passionate travellers, ensuring memorable stays and fostering a sense of community among like-minded individuals.

What does the rise of fan tourism mean for hotels?

Fan tourism is your ticket to creating unforgettable experiences. Whether it's sports events, music concerts, or cultural phenomena, tailor your packages to match the excitement of these events. Engage with fan communities on social media, and design experiences that make your guests feel like they're part of something bigger. It's not just about a stay; it's about creating memories linked to the passions that drive your guests.

People at a concert.
75% of Gen Z identify with fandoms related to TV shows, anime, musicians, and video games.

5. Authentic and affordable: emerging travel destinations

Heading into 2024, the travel landscape is seeing a significant shift towards more authentic and cost-effective experiences. Travellers increasingly want less crowded, emerging destinations, as opposed to popular tourist hotspots. This is largely driven by a desire to immerse in distinctive cultures and environments, often at a more affordable price. The trend aligns with the spending plans of global travellers, especially Gen Z and Millennials. They’re prioritising travel over other personal expenses and are willing to spend more on it in 2024. In fact, 39% of US travellers have budgeted to spend more on travel in the upcoming year compared to 2023, while 45% intend to maintain their current spending levels. Remarkably, only 5% plan to reduce their travel expenditures.

This evolving preference is further echoed in the popularity of 'destination dupes' on platforms like TikTok. There, travellers seek out alternatives that offer similar experiences to famed destinations but are less crowded and more wallet-friendly. For instance, instead of Santorini, tourists are exploring Paros; they're considering Perth as an alternative to Sydney, and Taipei in place of Seoul. For hotels, this opens up a wealth of opportunities in these emerging locales. By offering authentic local experiences at competitive prices, hotels can tap into this new market segment of travellers who are increasingly looking for unique, budget-friendly alternatives to traditional tourist experiences.

“People want to travel and are prioritising it. But at the same time, their bucket list has been building up over the past few years. Maybe there were places they wanted to visit during the pandemic, but couldn't. And they really want to tick off all of these bucket list items. So then they think—okay, what can I find that's the next best option or something similar that gives me the same sort of vibe?” - Cristiana Vlaiconi, Marketing Assistant

What does the trend towards authentic and affordable destinations mean for hotels?

As travellers seek out unique, budget-friendly experiences, position your hotel as the gateway to authentic local adventures. Highlight your connection to emerging destinations and offer value-packed experiences that don't skimp on authenticity. Show potential guests how your hotel is the perfect base for exploring the less-trodden paths and experiencing the true essence of the locale.

A photo of the city Budva in Montenegro.
Montenegro instead of Croatia: travellers are looking for less crowded hidden gems.

6. Restful retreats and prioritising sleep quality

As 2024 unfolds, the hotel industry is increasingly focusing on the critical role of sleep in guest satisfaction. Acknowledging that a restful night's sleep is integral to a guest's overall experience, hotels are intensifying their investment in superior sleep amenities. This commitment includes offering high-quality mattresses, a variety of pillow options, and creating tranquil room environments conducive to rest. The objective is clear: to ensure that guests not only relish their time awake at the hotel but also depart feeling revitalised and rejuvenated.

This emphasis on sleep aligns with the primary motive for travel in 2024, which, regardless of generation, is to rest and recharge. This trend is evident as nearly 20% of global travellers openly confess to bringing their preferred pillow to ensure a good night's sleep. In particular, Baby Boomer travellers exhibit a strong preference for staying with trusted hotel brands known for their quality mattresses, highlighting the importance of sleep in their travel experience. For hotels, this translates to a clear mandate: prioritise sleep quality in their offerings to meet and exceed guest expectations, thereby enhancing overall guest satisfaction and loyalty.

“I read a lot of reviews before I book anything, and what I always look for: is the mattress comfortable? So that is a big one for me. Like, if somebody says that the mattress or the bed is not comfortable, then that is a reason why I will absolutely not book because it only takes one person. One person says it and I'm not booking the hotel.” - Stacy Smit, Customer Success Manager

What does the emphasis on sleep quality mean for hotels?

In a world that never stops, offer your guests the ultimate luxury: a good night's sleep. Invest in top-quality mattresses and create serene spaces that promise rest and rejuvenation. Use your marketing channels to highlight these features, showcasing your hotel as a haven of relaxation. After all, a well-rested guest is a happy guest.

Photos of cosy pillows on a bed.
In 2024, the primary focus for many travellers is to rest and recharge.

7. Aesthetics and vibes

In the visual-centric world of 2024, the aesthetics and ambience of a hotel have become crucial factors in attracting guests. The current trend gravitates towards hotels that present distinct themes and atmospheres, aligning with the personal styles and preferences of guests. This trend is particularly pronounced among younger travellers, who actively seek accommodations that resonate with their identity and aesthetic inclinations. Successful hotels are those that effectively utilise their unique aesthetics to weave a captivating narrative, drawing in guests who desire more than just a standard stay.

Gone are the days when a comfortable bed and a pleasant view were enough to satisfy travellers. Nowadays, an increasing number of guests are seeking hotels with specific vibes, whether it's retro, quirky, or modern. The significance of a hotel's vibe is reflected in a dramatic 1090% increase in mentions of this aspect in reviews on the Hotels.com app. Furthermore, the overall "vibe" of a destination plays a pivotal role in travel decisions, with 40% of US travellers considering it an important factor when choosing their 2024 destinations. This shift underlines the evolving expectations of travellers, who are now placing greater emphasis on the unique character and atmosphere of both their accommodations and destinations.

"People want to align themselves with a certain look and feel... think about how you can appeal to that vibe." - Cristiana Vlaiconi, Marketing Assistant
“This is also something that's really interesting because it's already been seen in the Spotify playlist trends for 2023, people using the word aesthetic to group music as well. So not necessarily being defined by the traditional like subgenres, but these things that kind of create this feeling of a certain aesthetic that people want to belong to or subscribe to.” - Victoria Sweeney, Head of Marketing & Operations

What does the importance of hotel aesthetics and vibes mean for hotels?

In the era of Instagram and aesthetic appeal, it's time to make sure your hotel stands out. Focus on creating an environment that resonates with your target audience's style and preferences. Whether it's chic and modern or quirky and vintage, let your hotel's unique personality shine through in your marketing materials. Remember, it's the vibe that often seals the deal.

A photo of an aesthetically pleasing autumnal set-up.
Use your unique aesthetics to create a captivating narrative that draws in guests who desire more than a regular stay.

8. The resurgence of Bleisure

2024 continues to witness the rising trend of 'bleisure' - a blend of business and leisure travel. As the lines between work and personal life increasingly blur, especially in the era of remote work, travellers are seeking to make the most of their business trips by adding leisure activities. Globally, more than 30% of Next-Gen (Gen Z and Millennial) business travellers said they plan to extend a business trip in 2024 to enjoy leisure time before or after their work obligations. Hotels can cater to this growing demographic by offering services and amenities that appeal to both the professional and personal needs of guests. From providing spaces that are conducive to both work and relaxation to organising local tours, hotels are uniquely positioned to enhance the bleisure experience.

What does the resurgence of bleisure travel mean for hotels?

Blend business with pleasure to cater to the modern traveller. Offer amenities that support both work and relaxation, ensuring your hotel is a versatile space for those looking to mix business trips with leisure. Think comfortable workspaces, high-speed internet, and local experiences that can turn a business stay into an adventure.

A business man carrying a suitcase while travelling.
Gen Z and Millennial business travellers plan to extend their business trips to enjoy leisure time before or after their work obligations.

9. Personalisation with technology

In the dynamic landscape of hospitality in 2024, personalisation through technology stands as a key element in enhancing guest satisfaction. The integration of online booking platforms, mobile apps, and intelligent room technologies goes beyond merely offering convenience; it creates a tailored experience for each guest. Utilising data analytics and AI, hotels can now provide personalised recommendations that cater to individual preferences, from dining options to entertainment activities. This customised approach significantly enriches the guest experience, leading to greater satisfaction and encouraging repeat visits.

The importance of online accessibility in travel planning is evident, with 80% of travellers deem it essential to book their trip entirely online. Moreover, the rapid growth in demand for electric vehicle (EV) charging facilities highlights the evolving needs of modern travellers, with EV charging rising to become the second-highest converting filter in hotel amenities. Additionally, the ability to seamlessly use personal devices with hotel technology, ranging from Wi-Fi connectivity to streaming apps, is crucial for 80% of global travellers. These findings underscore the increasing expectation for hotels to offer technologically advanced and highly personalised experiences to their guests.

What does the role of personalisation in technology mean for hotels?

In a world driven by technology, personalisation is key. Utilise AI and data analytics to offer bespoke experiences to your guests, from tailored dining recommendations to personalised room settings. Ensure your online booking process is seamless and caters to the specific needs of your guests, making every interaction with your hotel a personalised one.

An electric vehicle charging.
Modern travellers are seeking more solutions through technology.

10. Loyalty and rewards

The significance of loyalty and rewards programs in the hotel industry is increasingly critical in today's competitive landscape. Their significance in attracting and retaining guests is more crucial than ever. These programs, which range from offering discounted stays to providing exclusive experiences, not only incentivise repeat bookings but also cultivate a sense of belonging among guests. In designing loyalty programs, the focus is now on flexibility, value, and personalised rewards, meeting the evolving demands of modern travellers.

Particularly noteworthy is the mindset of Millennials towards these programs. A substantial 67% of Millennials prioritise their loyalty programs when planning travel, underscoring their keen interest in maximising the benefits offered. This trend highlights the need for hotels to not only develop but also effectively communicate the advantages of their loyalty programs to appeal to this significant demographic. By aligning loyalty programs with the preferences and expectations of these travellers, hotels can enhance guest loyalty and secure a competitive edge in the market.

What does the importance of loyalty and rewards programs mean for hotels?

In the competitive landscape of hospitality, loyalty programs are your secret weapon. Design these programs to offer flexibility, value, and personalised experiences that resonate with your guests, especially Millennials. Use these programs to create a sense of belonging and appreciation, encouraging guests to return time and again.

Coffee and cake on a platter.
In your loyalty programs, focus on flexibility, value, and personalised rewards.

11. AI, technology and the future of travel planning

As we progress into 2024, the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in reshaping travel planning and hotel operations is becoming increasingly significant. Hotels are harnessing AI for a variety of applications, ranging from utilising predictive analytics for managing bookings to providing personalised guest services through chatbots. The advent of technologies such as voice search, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) is revolutionising the way guests interact with hotels, offering immersive experiences from the planning stage itself. This adoption of AI not only gives hotels a competitive edge but also establishes new benchmarks in guest engagement and satisfaction.

The emergence of generative AI travel aids is a key aspect of this transformation. While in 2023, only 6% of travellers used tools like ChatGPT for trip planning, a significant change is on the horizon. Expedia Group anticipates that the 'generation of generative AI' travellers will fully embrace this technology throughout their travel journey. The data reveals a growing interest, with half of the travellers keen on using generative AI for planning their next trip, and a third finding it extremely useful in making travel plans. This trend indicates a shift towards AI-assisted travel, offering new possibilities for both travellers and the hospitality industry alike.

“Again back to Gen Z, on the technology side, voice technology, like searching, using voice commands and instead of typing, I think the way that they are expecting things to work is changing.” - Nareh Torosian, Senior Product Owner.

What does the integration of AI in travel planning mean for hotels?

Step into the future with AI-driven solutions for your hotel operations. From chatbots enhancing customer service to VR tours sparking interest, use these technologies to create a cutting-edge guest experience. Embrace tools like generative AI to assist in travel planning, positioning your hotel as a forward-thinking player in the hospitality sector.

Person looking through a VR headset.
Technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are revolutionising the way guests interact with hotels.

Next steps for 2024

As we wrap up our exploration of the 2024 hotel industry trends, it's clear that the future of hospitality is vibrant, diverse, and technologically advanced. These trends highlight the importance of adapting to changing guest preferences, leveraging new marketing strategies, and embracing technological innovations.

Whether it's through engaging video content, catering to Gen Z travellers, implementing sustainable practices, or creating unique experiences for fan tourism, the opportunities for growth and differentiation in the hotel industry are boundless. By focusing on personalisation, loyalty programs, and AI-driven solutions, hotels can enhance guest experiences, foster loyalty, and maintain a competitive edge. As we look forward to 2024 and beyond, it's an exciting time for hoteliers to embrace these trends and redefine the future of hospitality.

Your booking engine is a crucial part of offering a seamless guest experience on your website, offering endless opportunities for personalisation. If you’re looking for a new booking engine this year, check out the key features your booking engine needs to have.

Dec 19, 2023
Trends and Insights
Written by
Hotelchamp Team