Based on the first month of the year, Agoda is anticipating that the rest of 2024 could be a great year for travel.
Agoda also shared the top performing destinations in 2024 so far, with Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam leading the pack as the top markets attracting international tourists. Following closely are Malaysia and South Korea, completing the top five inbound markets.
These findings, based on January 2024 Agoda booking ranks, indicate a robust start to the year for Asian travel destinations.
When comparing the number of accommodation searches between January 2023 and January 2024, India tops the list of biggest risers. Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Italy, respectively, have also shown notable leaps compared to last year. This shift underscores the dynamic nature of travel trends and the growing appeal of these diverse destinations.
With markets spearheading tourism campaigns for 2024, and inspiring discussions about how travellers are taking full advantage of innovative technologies and fewer travel restrictions, here are the five trends that Agoda predicts will shape the travel industry in 2024.
Visa-free travel gathers pace
Tourism features prominently on the agenda for many popular and emerging markets and this has led to a recent wave of visa easements. This will further reduce friction in travel and enable destinations to diversify their source markets in a bid to boost inbound traffic. For instance, when Malaysia removed restrictions at the beginning of December, there was a four-fold increase in searches from India and China to Malaysia compared to the previous month. Relaxed visa requirements, such as Indian travellers enjoying visa-free access to destinations like Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, will lead to other markets following suit.
More impetus for connected travel bookings
Travel providers will continue to simplify bookings by seeking ways to seamlessly integrate flights, hotels, experiences, and activities. With three out of four travellers booking tours, activities, and attractions within a week of their arrival date, it will be welcomed by travellers if convenient opportunities to book ahead are enabled.
As people come to expect travel planning within a single interface, providers will need to rise to the challenge by offering a ‘one-source’ travel concierge and cater to a higher demand for flexibility.
Greater assistance from AI
The Agoda team has been embracing evolution over revolution, using GenAI to supercharge their team’s performance across all areas of the business. Agoda’s CEO Omri Morgenshtern predicts that in 2024, GenAI will continue to be the biggest opportunity for business.
Further rise of B2B loyalty programmes
B2B loyalty programmes will make a bigger mark on travel in 2024 and will play a role in driving the growth of the category, with 69% of travellers interested in earning rewards for wellness behaviours and two-thirds eager to earn rewards for sustainable practices, according to a Mastercard study.
Travel fintech makes its mark
The intersection of fintech and travel is reshaping the way consumers manage their finances while exploring the world. Fintech solutions are enabling ever-more seamless payments for travellers, especially in cross-border travel interaction with domestic payment options, and the proliferation of QR payments. More financing options brought closer to the customer break the boundaries for many people and expedite the process of exposing more and more people to travel.
Morgenshtern believes that private sector innovation will accelerate this trend: “The private sector has an important role to play in fintech, because the tech and the speed can be pushed by the private sector – but ultimately public and private sector will need to work together on fintech solutions for seamless travel experiences.”
He concluded: “Fuelled by more frictionless visa experiences, travel continues to gain pace. With technology playing an even bigger role in how people choose, book and pay for travel, 2024 promises to be a watershed year.”