Travel TrendsYounger travellers are putting experiences front and centre of their destination decision and overall trip-planning.

Book now or later? Travel planning trends explained in 3 charts

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Performing arts, sporting events and festivals such as ZoukOut tend to be booked furthest in advance by travellers.
Performing arts, sporting events and festivals such as ZoukOut tend to be booked furthest in advance by travellers. Photo Credit: ZoukOut

The broad consumer shift toward experiences has been well known and well documented over the past half-decade.

In the most recent research from Arival and Phocuswright, a forthcoming consumer study of more than 8,000 travellers worldwide, 58% of Gen Z and millennial travellers say they are prioritising their spending on experiences over things. For affluent travelers (household income of US$150,000 or greater), that preference jumps to 68%.

But what does this mean for the broader travel industry?

From tickets to tours and experiences

The experiences trend is fuelling a strong resurgence in tours and activities (note Viator’s 179% growth in gross bookings for Q3 2022 versus the same period in 2019). It is also driving – in part – a notable shift toward small group and private guided experiences vs. the purchase of individual attraction tickets.

Book now or later? Travel planning trends explained in 3 charts

Activity importance drives advance booking

Historically, travellers book most tours and activities either in destination or closer to departure, but after they have organised their transportation and accommodation.

However, we found that the booking window is highly correlated to the perceived importance of a specific tour or activity to a traveller and their trip. Travellers that place a higher priority on a specific experience are more likely to book it in advance.

Performing arts and sporting events tend to be booked furthest in advance, while tours and museum tickets are much more likely to be booked much closer to the day of the experience. This correlates directly to the perceived importance of the experience to the traveller.

Someone who follows a musical artist or sports team will organise a trip around that event, while a traveller on a leisure trip may book a tour or decide to visit a museum at the last minute.

Book now or later? Travel planning trends explained in 3 charts

Gen Z, millennials have different priorities

Younger travellers, however, appear to be taking a different approach to trip planning and both how and when they book. Why? The shift is because of experiences.

Travellers 55 and older (older Gen-X and Boomers) are planning their tours and activities according to historical norms. Most are booking experiences either in destination or before departure but after arranging the other components (see next slide).

Younger travellers, 18 to 54 (but primarily Gen-Z and millennials), are showing a dramatic shift in when they book experiences. More than seven in 10 say they are planning their tours and activities at the same time as or before they book transportation and accommodation.

Book now or later? Travel planning trends explained in 3 charts

Experiences will drive the future of trip planning

This shift is nothing short of remarkable and has significant implications for destination marketers, accommodation providers, travel agencies, OTAs and just about any organisation involved in travel inspiration, planning and booking.

Younger travellers are putting experiences front and centre. Things to do will increasingly be central to the destination decision and overall trip-planning. Travel brands and destinations that lead with experiences will be best positioned to win over the traveller of today – and especially tomorrow.

Source: WiT

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