Trip.com Group Forecasts 2024 Travel Trends: AI Innovation, Sustainable Journeys, and Event Tourism Rise
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As the sun sets on 2023, Trip.com Group, a global leader in online travel services, reflects on the dynamic landscape of travel over the past year, offering insights into the trends set to shape the journey in 2024.
China’s border reopening sparks global travel surge
With the opening of China’s borders, travel was greatly boosted by a wave of Chinese travellers with a pent-up demand for overseas travel. Trip.com data unveils a significant rise in outbound travel bookings, showcasing a six-fold increase compared to 2022. This trend is especially prominent during holiday periods, such as the 8-day Golden Week in October which witnessed an eightfold surge in outbound travel. This is a compelling prelude to a robust New Year Holiday season from 31 Dec 2023 to 3 Jan 2024, which recorded a 240% increase in bookings year-on-year from 2022.
The data also revealed that Chinese travellers have a strong interest in visiting Southeast Asia, with many of these countries topping the list of preferred outbound destinations in 2023:
Top 5 destinations for Chinese travellers in 2023
- South Korea
The thriving interest in outbound travel is expected to persist in 2024. Besides outbound travel, China’s inbound travel is also showing steady signs of recovery. In 2023, Trip.com saw four-digit growth in visitor numbers as compared with the same period in 2022 – surpassing 60% of pre-pandemic levels.
According to Trip.com data, China’s top source markets for inbound tourism include South Korea, Japan, Singapore, the United States, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Germany. These visitors’ preferred destinations in China are Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Zhuhai, Hangzhou, Foshan, Xiamen, Zhongshan, and Chengdu. In fact, seven out of ten hotel bookings made by overseas tourists are for Shenzhen.
Furthermore, Trip.com’s “China Travel Guide”, a comprehensive guide that provides inbound visitors to China with hotel, transport, payment and other travel-related information, has served nearly 100,000 overseas visitors since its launch in September.
We also partnered with e-payment service providers such as Alipay to simplify payment for overseas visitors, helping international tourists navigate their travels in China.
AI takes centre stage in predictive planning for 2024
As we venture in 2024, the travel landscape is undergoing a paradigm shift, driven by the widespread integration of AI. Leading this transformative change is TripGenie, an advanced AI travel assistant that is integrated into the Trip.com mobile app.
Leveraging cutting-edge large language model technologies, TripGenie, launched in 2023, has evolved into a personalised travel companion. It is reshaping the way we plan our journeys, from crafting bespoke itineraries, enabling instant bookings and delivering lightning-fast responses to user queries. For example, if you enquire “How do I plan a 5-day trip to Bangkok?” The travel assistant swiftly creates a personalised editable inquiry in under a minute, recommending tourist spots, shopping destinations and even provides booking links, images and city maps.
In the latter part of 2023, TripGenie’s user searches unveiled a rising interest in content related to “travel guide”, reflecting a growing demand for comprehensive travel-related information. Other popular searches were related to “flight”, “hotel”, “itineraries” and “attractions”.
Expanding beyond TripGenie, Trip.com introduced AI-powered curated lists to enhance the booking experience for users. “Trip.Best” that recommends the best travel options, “Trip.Deals” that shows top flights, accommodations, and other travel deals, and “Trip.Trends” which features the most popular travel topics and events based on user searches. These dynamic compilations are finely tuned to user preferences derived from real-time data, providing a sneak peek into the future of travel planning in 2024.
For instance, in the “Trip.Deals” list, global users have shown particular interest in the following top 5 destinations:
- Hong Kong
Music festivals and theme parks lead the way for 2024’s global attractions
As we set our sights on 2024, the world of travel is embracing the fun trend of event tourism, with festivals and iconic theme parks emerging as the cornerstones of trips.
Theme parks specifically are poised for a stellar rise, having witnessed an impressive 65% increase in bookings in 2023 compared to 2019 levels. According to Trip.com data, these are the top 10 theme parks in 2023 globally:
- Hong Kong Disneyland
- Universal Studios Japan
- Ocean Park Hongkong
- Universal Studios Singapore
- Tokyo Disneyland
- Tokyo DisneySea
- Everland, Korea
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- LEGOLAND, Malaysia
- Adventure Cove Waterpark
Theme parks also made five of the top ten most popular attractions globally in 2023, with Singapore Zoo, Gardens by the Bay, The Peak, S.E.A Aquarium, and Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan also making the top 10 list.
The arena of live entertainment, concerts and music festivals transcend borders, captivating audiences from every corner of the world. In our inaugural year of venturing into the concert category in 2023, Trip.com has already witnessed extremely positive outcomes. The category of “event+ticket” has become one of the most sought-after products on our platform. Globally, concerts and music festivals such as Jay Chou’s Carnival World Tour in Bangkok and Wang Leehom’s ONE concert in the same city were the top two most popular concerts respectively.
During Jay Chou’s Carnival World Tour in Bangkok, the search volume for Bangkok hotels experienced a notable surge of 175% in the week following the concert announcement (8-14 September), compared to the preceding week (1-7 September). Simultaneously, searches for air tickets to Bangkok exhibited a substantial increase of 213%. Furthermore, the number of hotel stay bookings in Bangkok on December 9 spiked by 129% when comparing the same two weeks. Additionally, flight bookings from China recorded a significant rise of 118%.
Concerts featuring international acts are anticipated to sustain their prominence as the most sought-after global events, promising a thrilling 2024 filled with unforgettable cultural experiences.
Here are the top 5 concerts and music festivals in 2023:
- Jay Chou Carnival World Tour Bangkok
- Wang Leehom ONE concert Bangkok
- Rolling Loud Pattaya
- Jacky Cheung Macau
- JJ Lin Hong Kong
The rise of sustainable travel and event tourism in 2024
Peering into the crystal ball for 2024, two pivotal trends look to be shaping the travel landscape: Sustainable travel and the ascent of event tourism. More than a numerical projection, these trends signify a shift in traveller consciousness and preferences.
According to Trip.com Group’s latest ESG report, more than 16 million customers have opted for low-carbon travel options, signalling a rising interest in eco-friendly exploration.
Trip.com Group’s low-carbon hotel standard initiative was also launched in 2023 with promising results. With over 1,500 partners shortlisted as low-carbon hotels, this suggests that sustainable accommodation is set to become a major trend.
Event tourism, encompassing concerts, festivals, and sporting events, is poised to gain momentum in 2024. With the eagerly anticipated 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, the “ticket+hotel” category is expected to be a sought-after product, underscoring the growing importance of events in shaping travel choices.
As the story of travel evolves in the year ahead, Trip.com Group stands at the forefront, poised to guide adventurers into an era marked by exploration, innovation, and sustainability – to pursue the perfect trip for a better world.