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The three experiences trends set to shape the leisure travel industry in 2024

The three experiences trends set to shape the leisure travel industry in 2024

Ahead of the Arival 360 Conference in Orlando on October 9-12, travel leaders have shared the top three tours, activities and experiences trends they expect will shape the travel industry in 2024.

More than 1,000 representatives from companies across the tours, activities, attractions and experiences sectors will attend the 2023 Arival 360 Conference next week.  Hot topics will include artificial intelligence and its implications for the experiences industry, digital distribution, pricing, passion travel, partnerships, and how inclusion & diversity will continue to drive fundamental shifts in the way people experience travel and the response they expect. 

And these top three trends for 2024 are expected to dominate discussions at the event:

Artificial intelligence could finally pave the way to genuine personalization

“We’ve seen an explosion in excitement and tangible applications for artificial intelligence in 2023.  At Arival we’re going to dig into the tangible applications and opportunities for businesses across travel experiences to drive new efficiencies and enhance the guest experience.  If we channel it the right way, operators will only get better at delivering that personal, human touch that makes the experiences sector so special within travel,” said Douglas Quinby, CEO and Co-founder at Arival.


Greg DeShields, Executive Director at Tourism Diversity Matters, adds that AI has the potential to redefine the guest experience in 2024: “Customer expectations for more authenticity will remain high, while artificial intelligence and automation advancements will continue redefining the guest experience, providing greater awareness and more choices.  AI and automation will impact various segments, adapt, and offer more “customer-friendly” AI-driven solutions.  AI algorithms and data analytics will provide travelers with more personalized and efficient experiences.

Demand for immersive experiences with authentic, human connection will continue to grow

“This trend, which has dominated 2023, will continue to evolve in 2024 – with the desire for unique, once-in-a-life time and themed trips becoming even more prominent,” notes Quinby.  “As a result, there is likely to be a huge range of new options available to travelers.  Travel providers will need to consider how to take their offerings a step further in 2024 than they did in 2023 – focusing on differentiation and user experience at the booking stage will be key to captivating travelers, and turning lookers into bookers.”

Rebecca Fisher, Co-Founder, Beyond the Bell Tours agrees: “People are going to be more and more driven to pursue experiential travel experiences [in 2024].  Travelers are seeking authentic connection and deeper engagement.  I believe we will see these trends grow globally as well as domestically [within the US].”

We’ll see a shift from destination-based travel to passion-based travel

“Where will matter less than why in 2024,” says Quinby.  “The typical traveler’s bucket list used to consist of places to go, countries to check off, passport stamps to collect.  But in 2024, it’ll be more about the who, what and why, than the where and when.”

Or, as Dan Christian, host of the Travel Trends podcast and founder of the Acceleration Team puts it:

“We are seeing a shift from destination-based travel to passion-based travel.  But travel discovery is still stuck in the past; the only options today are where and when, and we need to move to who you are and what you’re interested in.  Websites and other travel platforms, for example, are still focused on destinations. But people are choosing travel experiences based on their passions over destinations.  Building marketing funnels around time and place is no longer the most effective approach; it’s up to all of us to make this shift to attract & retain consumers today.”