As the cost of living continues to put pressure on U.S. households, many are feeling the crunch. However, a new study published this month by Hilton suggests that consumers plan to spend more on travel in 2024. How? By reducing other areas of their personal spending to make leisure travel a priority.
The inflation crunch
Even as inflation has begun to ease, it is impossible to ignore the impact it is continuing to have on American consumers. As Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, wrote in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, “the typical household spent $202 more in July than they did a year ago to buy the same goods and services. And they spent $709 more than they did two years ago”.
Despite this, a recent global survey conducted by Hilton and Ipsos shows that travelers intend to reduce their personal spending in order to prioritize travel in 2024.
Gen Z and Millennials prioritize travel
While 64% of global travelers aim to cut other areas of their personal spending to prioritize leisure travel, Gen Z and Millennials are taking it a step further, confirming that they also plan to spend more on travel in 2024.
“Even with ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty, travel demand has remained strong as consumers continue to prioritize the value of experiences and connections over things,” commented Kevin Jacobs, Chief Financial Officer & President, Global Development, Hilton.
So, what kinds of experiences are people looking for when traveling?
Hilton’s study found that personal wellness matters to travelers, with an increased focus on savoring a good night’s sleep while away from home. This has come into focus more than ever after the challenges of the last few years heightened travelers’ desire for rest and relaxation.
Seamless digital solutions
In the tech-forward world of 2024, travelers of all ages will be looking for innovative and seamless digital solutions to simplify their travel experience and personalize their stays, from booking to on-property experiences. Eighty percent of the global travelers surveyed by Hilton said it is important to be able to book their trip entirely online, while 80% want to be able to use personal devices seamlessly with on-property technology, from Wi-Fi to streaming apps.
Furthermore, modern travelers are increasingly prioritizing experiences over things. As they budget for 2024, the top focus for those surveyed by Hilton is culinary experiences. Second to that, 47% of travelers will prioritize exploration and adventure, with Gen Zers and Millennials carving out more budget for these types of experiences than the other generations.
Sustainability remains a key concern
While experiencing the destination and local culture will be 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. 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 way people travel for business is also changing, with Hilton’s survey indicating that “bleisure”, or blended leisure and business travel, will be on the up in 2024.
3 Hilton properties that know what the 2024 traveler wants:
When it comes to sustainably connecting guests with local food and culture, Conrad Koh Samui has taken things to the next level. The hotel’s own regenerative Iris Farm provides fruit and vegetables, as well as more than 10,000 chicken and duck eggs every month, to the on-site restaurants. The resort also features a hydroponic system for growing herbs, a coffee roaster, a mushroom farm and a butcher. Guests can select their own herbs to build a cloth herbal compress ball used in the Siam Fusion spa treatment, learn to prepare Thai food using local, seasonal veggies sourced from the farm, or get hooked on the coffee kombucha that is brewed in-house using the coffee waste left over from breakfast.
Combining sleep and sustainability, the Vegan Suite at Hilton London Bankside is not only the UK capital’s first luxury vegan hotel suite created exclusively from plant-based materials, it also offers a Vegan Pillow Menu. Options include anti-bacterial, non-allergenic and environmentally sourced material to replace feather down. For example, there is a Buckwheat pillow made with 100% organic buckwheat hulls, a Kapok Pillow made from natural kapok, a Millet Pillow made with organic millet husks, an Orthopedic memory foam pillow made with bamboo shredded fiber, along with Anti-Allergy Foam Pillow, made with 100% recycled cluster polyester.
One hotel that has implemented Hilton’s digital solutions to great effect is The Gabriel Miami South Beach, Curio Collection by Hilton. In June 2023, 63% of guests reported using mobile messaging during their stay here. Better still, 100% of those guests’ on-property issues were resolved through engaging with the hotel team via messaging.
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Hilton’s 2024 Trends Report was compiled following a global survey of more than 10,000 travelers from nine countries, video diaries with 60 U.S. travelers and in-depth interviews with dozens of Hilton travel experts.