World Tourism Day – 5 Lesser Known Travel Trends to Know

September 29, 2023
Female tourist smiling and taking a picture with her camera while leaning out of a window above Parisian rooftops.

On September 27, we celebrate World Tourism Day. Normally, we discuss the biggest trends in the industry, but this year, we’re opting for the lesser known travel trends in 2023. Wellness travel, leisure travel, multigenerational travel – we’ve been talking plenty about those trends already. There’s no need to rehash it all.

Instead, destinations who are looking for more ways to market themselves have a host of lesser known travel trends to discover in 2023. We combed through the research and pulled up five that, we bet, will become major trends by 2024.

1. Set-Jetting

In AMEX’s recent report, the rise of set-jetting is not to be underestimated. Travelers want to go to see the locations of their favorite films and series. We’ve already discussed leveraging streaming services, but the data supports it now more than ever.

Moving forward, these considerations will be even more impactful for destinations who appear in popular culture. These are amazing marketing moments not to be missed.

2. Cycle Tourism

While cities are still riding the high from increased cycle infrastructure following the pandemic, cycle tourism continues to grow. Even major cities like New York and Paris are getting on board with better biking lanes, contributing to this lesser known travel trend in 2023.

For destinations with any worthwhile biking infrastructure or culture, there is ample potential here to attract avid cyclists and convert newcomers who can take advantage of increasingly friendly streets and paths. As bike paths grow, destinations provide business opportunities for shops, tours, and out of city excursions that will help spread tourism from urban centers to lesser-visited areas.

3. Off-Grid is In reported that demand for off-grid adventure travel continues to rise. We saw how formerly intimate European escapes were replaced this summer by a crush of revenge tourism and crowds. Many intrepid travelers need a break from it, and going off-grid is an ideal solution.

It might not mean cutting off entirely from social media – though for some of us, that sounds great – but eco lodges, silent getaways, yoga retreats, and other like minded experiences come to mind. Destinations can fold sustainability and wellness into this idea where travelers can immerse themselves in true escapes from daily life. Consider it the next level of your sustainable and wellness travel offerings.

4. Loyalty: The True Influencer

TravelBoom’s most recent 2023 study shows that a whopping 68% of travelers are influenced by travel loyalty programs, up from 45% just last year. Take that, TikTok. For destinations, this is an important trend to learn now, understanding how airline and hotel loyalty plans may focus travelers’ attention.

If you are lacking any properties or airline connections with loyalty programs, you’re missing out, and if you’re not working actively with companies that do offer them, you’re equally remiss. It’s time to take a deep dive into the types of loyalty programs out there and learn how they impact your destination. It will likely mean the difference between cashing in on all those points or watching travelers fly right over you.

5. Skipping AI

While everything seems to be going AI – artificial intelligence, if we needed to spell it out – but perhaps not everything should. AI content tools have proved unremarkable, if not scammy, for some travel planners. This growing distrust – or disgust – will push humans to seek verified, vetted, and accurate information about destinations in the future. Fortunately, destinations tend to have a lot of humans hanging around!

Destinations need to make sure they aren’t providing AI chatbots that provide little beyond the generic and that there are continually real humans highlighted in marketing strategies to reassure travelers that your content is anything but unreliable. Get excited about the positive impacts of AI, but avoid an all-in approach until the horror stories subside.

These lesser known travel trends are bound to evolve from 2023 onward, but DCI stays on top of relevant industry research and even produces its own. Get in touch with Robyn Domber at [email protected] to learn more about how DCI’s research team can help your destination’s marketing efforts.

Written by

Robyn Domber

Senior Vice President, Research