While travel used to be a means to escape life, new research from Booking.com reveals that travel is life in 2024 with three quarters (74%) of Kiwis stating they feel more alive than ever when they are on holiday.
With over half (58%) of Kiwi travellers thinking they are the best version of themselves while on holiday, and 64% wanting to be more like their holiday self in their day-to-day life back home, these trends reveal how Kiwis will go about bottling those feel-good holiday vibes so they don’t get left on the doorstep when they arrive home.
The research also reveals that AI is set to transform 2024 as travellers are increasingly plugging into tech to do the grunt work, freeing them up to tune into their intuition and spark more soul-stirring experiences.
Booking.com’s annual Travel Predictions research, which gathers insights from more than 27,000 travellers across 33 countries and territories, including over 1,000 from New Zealand, explores how travel will transport people out of autopilot and into living their best lives.
“Heading into a new year, Kiwis are demonstrating a renewed sense of optimism when it comes to travel, looking for opportunities to reinvigorate and reinvent themselves, be it on international escapades or simply exploring their own backyard, to level up their day-to-day lives.” comments Todd Lacey, Regional Manager of Oceania at Booking.com.
“Our 2024 Travel Predictions reflect the idea that travel is not a means to escape life, but instead a catalyst to live our best lives. At Booking.com, it’s our mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world and we are committed to empowering extraordinary experiences that resonate with the heartbeat of each and every traveller in 2024 and beyond.”
(Alter) Ego Enthusiasts People often take on different personas when travelling to feel more alive, with some even going as far as to make up stories about themselves to those they meet when travelling (20%). Over half (56%) of Kiwi travellers enjoy the anonymity that comes with travel, seeing it as a chance to recreate themselves and more than a third (34%) would even pay to rent a nicer car than they drive at home to live their finest lives with confidence.
Taking inspiration from aliases and avatars in the metaverse, half (51%) of travellers feel their ‘main character energy’ shine through on their travels, bringing their digital fantasies to life to fuel their boundless wanderlust by travelling to any real-world destinations of their choice.
Whilst Kiwis are hoping for a long, hot summer after endless months of rain, in other corners of the globe it seems heat has officially had its vacay heyday. Whilst Aotearoa has yet to experience soaring temperatures in 2023, heat waves around the world have accelerated a rise in travellers chasing cooler climates to holiday in. Only a third (30%) of Kiwis want to use their holiday in 2024 to cool down elsewhere – significantly lower than the rest of Asia Pacific travellers at 61%.
For many travellers, a rise in water-centric travel will take the edge off the heat with nearly three quarters (74%) agreeing that being close to water instantly makes them feel more relaxed, and over a third (42%) are interested in water-centric holidays such as cruising through scenic fjords or admiring the cityscapes on a yacht.
Surrender Seekers Shifting from rigorous planning to chance encounters with a roll of the dice, nearly half (47%) of Kiwi travellers would like to have no prior plans set in stone for their travels, with a similar number (48%) wanting to see where the wind takes them by booking a surprise trip where everything down to the destination is unknown until arrival.
What’s more, the explosion of AI has already seen the launch of Booking.com’s AI Trip planner and over a third (34%) of Kiwi travellers would trust AI to plan a trip for them, further leaning into spontaneous travel that paves the way for lesser known locations and experiences, with nearly half (49%) preferring to venture off the beaten path.
Kiwi travellers are keen to dig deep into the roots of cuisine by bucking next-gen food trends in favour of experiencing heritage flavours with the majority (87%) wanting to savour indigenous cuisines while exploring the world.
What’s more, over half (56%) are interested in learning about the origins of a destination’s ‘must-eat’ delicacies. Expect an increase in indigenous tourism experiences that bring greater visibility to communities around the globe such as this local Maori Village Tour in Rotorua that takes travellers on a storytelling journey behind the food they serve.
Reboot Retreaters Kiwi travellers will be looking to travel experiences to unlock new versions of themselves with almost half (47%) seeking solace to do so. This group plans to travel alone in 2024, prioritising their own vitality through trips that see the partner and kids left at home.
A smaller subset are planning to use travel as a means to reflect on their relationships and drive reconnection. Nearly a quarter (24%) of travellers would carve out time for a matchmaking holiday to find love, while a similar number (27%) would focus on a heartbreak holiday to get over an ex. For those already coupled up, a quarter (25%) want to deepen that connection with their partner as their main priority for travelling in 2024.
A La Carte Affluencers
Kiwi travellers will employ money saving hacks to cut costs, yet level up holidays with ‘à la carte’ luxuries, scoring a rush from luxury travel – even if just for a moment in time. Further cementing the increased presence of AI in travel planning, around half (53%) of travellers want insights and tips from AI to curate budget-friendly travel itineraries with suggested deals, all with a tap of their finger.
These à la carte ‘affluencers’ want to appear wealthy through curating budget-friendly travel itineraries. For example, 45% are willing to pay for day passes to use the amenities in a five star hotel rather than staying there and 52% of parents plan to travel outside of peak school holiday seasons to make their money stretch further in 2024.
A growing movement of hotels and unique stays are responding to significant environmental and social challenges through architectural design. Mindful travellers will hunt down jaw-dropping architecture that has environmental features at its heart, with nearly half (41%) looking for accommodation that has a wow-factor in sustainability innovation and a majority (62%) wanting to see the outside brought indoors with green spaces and plants in accommodations.
Alongside contributing to conservation efforts, sustainable itineraries will give travellers exclusive access to the places they are helping preserve, in the most mindful and responsible way. Nearly half (48%) of Kiwi travellers are interested in sustainable travel apps where they can unlock experiences, such as adventures with locals to off-the-beaten-path areas (59%) or visiting remote locations that tourists otherwise have limited access to (50%).
For more information about Booking.com’s 2024 Travel Predictions, please visit the official report here.