Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) has revealed the most popular destinations for 2024 and what is motivating travellers to visit them.
Japan and Thailand top the list, followed by Spain, Canada and Hawaii, a survey of its GHA Discovery loyalty programme members found, with the desire to try new destinations and experiences a key motivation behind travel decisions.
Europe has emerged as the most sought-after region to visit next year, while staycations are booming in Asia, led by members in China, who are planning more than five on average, followed by Thailand and Malaysia with more than four.
Similar to last year’s survey, GHA Discovery members’ travel plans are predominantly driven by leisure. Across regions, most respondents are planning to take no more than one business trip on average and two to four trips for leisure.
The strong rebound of Asian outbound travel is also clear, once again led by China where members have six to seven leisure trips planned (a 6.8 average), closely followed by Hong Kong (6.7) Thailand (6.4) and Germany (6.1). The Middle East and Africa stand out too, with travellers in these regions planning almost equal business and leisure trips (4.9 versus 4.0) in 2024.
Travellers in Asia are booking trips to Japan, China and Thailand, the same as in 2023, revealing an appetite to continue exploring intra-regional destinations.
European residents favour Thailand and Japan for the second consecutive year, but have replaced their 2023 hotspot, the US, with a desire to dive deeper into their own region, with Spain and Italy at the top of the list.
Travel-seekers from Australia and New Zealand are heading to Singapore and the UK in 2024, while Sydney is a city hotspot for a staycation. Those travelling to Europe tend to visit Portugal as well.
North American residents are still planning vacations to Japan but have swapped trips to China for getaways in Hawaii, Spain and Thailand instead. This market has the least interest in staycations, with an average of just over two planned.
As for the Middle East and North Africa, Japan remains in demand into 2024, but Canada and Oman are the new hot destinations for travellers based in this region, compared to Italy and Singapore in 2023.
Motivations, inspirations and preferences driving these trending destinations include various factors.
Social media is the top inspiration source, with 75% of respondents saying they travel to new places after seeing friends’ posts, with Asia, Middle East and North Africa, and Oceania leading this trend. Travel magazines are still an important source in Europe and North America but recommendations from friends and family are the most influential.
Post-Covid, members are mostly opting for travel with their spouse or partner and intimate family trips, rather than solo adventures or mega-vacations with extended family. Foodie breaks are also on the rise and have overtaken wellness getaways as the most desired travel experiences.
Loyalty programme websites and apps are now the top choice across all regions for travel research and booking, a clear increase compared to 2023. This is followed by OTAs and dedicated review portals, all preferred to brand and hotel sites, indicating that travellers want to search from a wide choice of options in one place to save time and effort.
When deciding what hotel to stay in, the quality of accommodation and the benefits of its loyalty programme are the most important factors. This marks a change from last year when location or neighbourhood and price were prioritised.
When it comes to travel, upgrades are in demand. Special rates and hotel benefits are seen as the most critical in-hotel loyalty benefits. The largest change is seen in Europe, where discounts were the top pick last year, but now benefits such as room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout are significantly more valued. Across regions, a staggering 70% of elite GHA Discovery members place room upgrades at the top of their preferences, advocating for greater availability of this benefit.
“Travel is back on all fronts with every region thriving, and despite disruptions in certain markets, we are optimistic for another strong year in 2024” said Kristi Gole, executive vice president of strategy at GHA. “Travellers are still willing to pay premium prices to get where they want and to stay in the best hotels, but they now expect the product and service levels to match and want loyalty programmes to add value and enhance each stay.”