2024 trends from bespoke specialist Audley Travel
Country specialists from bespoke tour operator Audley Travel have shared their insights into what clients are booking for 2024 and why, as well as their thoughts on other travel trends for the coming year.
With availability tight for many popular destinations, Audley’s specialists report clients are opting for alternatives to enjoy popular or iconic sights and experiences away from the crowds. South Korea is a popular switch for clients wanting to see Japan’s cherry blossom, and Nicaragua is an excellent alternative for a client keen to visit the rainforest instead of Costa Rica. The same trend is seen within destinations, with clients choosing to visit lesser-known parts of countries like South Africa — for example, flying into Durban and exploring KwaZulu-Natal’s game reserves and the Drakensberg Mountains, learning about the history of the battlefields, and then relaxing at a remote beach lodge on the coast.
Off season travel
Clients traveling in 2024 are increasingly booking popular and well-established destinations and experiences in the off-season. From booking a winter trip on the popular Glacier Express and Golden Pass trains in Switzerland, to taking a safari vacation in ‘Green Season’, Audley’s clients are taking advantage of lower prices and better availability away from the peak times.
A move back to curious travel
As borders reopened, ticking things off bucket lists was a key motivator for travel (cited by 72 percent of Audley’s country specialists for 2023 travel, but only 36 percent for 2024 travel). Clients who have taken their much longed for bucket list trips are now moving back to more curious travel exploring off-the-beaten-track for future adventures.
Audley’s country specialists report an increasing interest in cultural experiences, for example around the Maasai in East Africa as well as an interest in more remote and authentic safari destinations e.g. Ruaha National Park. They also have seen more requests for 'authentic' hotels that reflect the culture of the country, across the destinations.
Luxury bookings continue to grow
Despite the rising cost of living, Audley reports continued growth in demand for luxury properties and experiences. Luxury lodges in Australia and New Zealand are selling faster than they did pre-2020 and there is a lot of demand for small ship expedition style cruising. Audley’s country specialists for Latin America report that people are looking for more comfort and upgrading their flights.
Further demand for more experiential and customized travel
Clients are asking for more 'unique' experiences when they travel. Audley’s North America specialists are responding with suggestions of experiences such as guided kayak and camping trips to see whales and wolves.
This trend is also being recognized by Audley’s partners in destinations. Whilst arranging tailor-made trips has always been at the heart of Audley’s operations, the country specialists report that an increasing number of partners are customizing the excursions and experiences that they offer for individual clients, moving away from set tours and adapting their plans to the needs and wants of the customer — a move that is a perfect fit for Audley’s custom travel offering.
Traveling responsibly remains important. Research conducted recently found that 68 percent1 say that having sustainable travel options (e.g. lower carbon flights) is important to them.
Motivations for travel
A long-awaited bucket list trip remains the top motivator for 2024 travel (albeit at lower levels than in for 2023 travel) — cited by Audley’s specialists as the reason for 36 percent of trips2. To celebrate a personal milestone (birthday, anniversary, retirement, graduation etc.) is the reason for 24 percent of trips, and to spend time with the family is 14 percent.
Where Audley’s clients are booking3
Top destinations for 2024 travel are Italy, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Thailand (matching the top five destinations for 2023 bookings). The average duration for 2024 bookings is 15.8 days, up 2.6 percent from 15.4 days in 2023.
Notes for editors
1The research was designed by Audley Travel and PA Consulting and was conducted with 2,000 respondents aged over 18 who had taken a vacation abroad in the last five years and plan to in the next 12 months and be willing to spend at least $2,500 per person on a two-week international vacation. The research was conducted in March 2023.
2Audley’s Country Specialists were surveyed in September 2023.
3Bookings made for 2023 and 2024 by October 16 2023.