Virtuoso surveyed its travel agency members, and their teams of professional travel advisors, across more than 50 countries to predict what lies ahead in the coming year. According to the “2024 Virtuoso Luxe Report,” travelers are increasingly comfortable venturing further afield, demonstrating a committed sense of adventure and urgency for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in far-flung locations.
With the value of time—and the significance of how and with whom we spend it—now a focal point for many, Virtuoso travel advisors report their clients are more interested than ever in fulfilling their travel aspirations. Despite inflation and global unrest, they remain curious and willing to pay for new experiences. More than half of advisors surveyed expect travel demand and spend per trip to increase in 2024.
The “Luxe Report” identified five key trends highlighting how upscale globetrotters are establishing their influence in the travel-sphere for 2024.
- New Frontiers: Although many continue to find comfort in their past favorites, other experienced travelers are diverging from the usual European options and branching out to exotic locales and less-explored areas. Driven by the desire to visit a place dreamed of during the pandemic, an under-the-radar location recommended by an advisor or even the ambition of being “first” to a destination, luxury travelers are intrigued by the unexplored. The cultural richness of re-emerging travel hotspots, such as Japan and Iceland, offer unique and exciting itineraries for those seeking a departure from the norm.
- The Party Continues: Post-pandemic travel saw many delayed celebrations realized, and the festivities continue with celebration travel making the list of top trends and motivations for 2024. It’s no surprise travelers are sharing life’s most important moments with family—travel with immediate family tops the trends list and multigenerational travel follows close behind. Whether commemorating a milestone or spending quality time together, travel remains an essential part of connecting with loved ones.
- Honoring the Earth: Extreme weather has shaped a traveler who is hyper-aware of the fragility of the world and eager to honor its majesty. Virtuoso advisors say their clients are pushing geographical boundaries to witness nature in its pristine form for fear it will diminish or become inaccessible. Greece, Morocco and Hawaii are also top-of-mind for travelers who want to support the economy of destinations recently impacted by disaster while remaining respectful of their recovery.
- Small Ships, Big Possibilities: With less-crowded, more intimate settings in favor, small-vessel cruising is on the rise with new and experienced cruisers alike. Upscale voyagers in search of a more authentic experience are favoring river cruises for the casual atmosphere, proximity to major cities and wide-ranging itineraries. Popular routes include the Danube River, the Mekong River and the Nile. Adventure cruising is also trending due to prevailing interest in Alaska and increased accessibility to Antarctica, 2024’s leading adventure destination. Private yacht charters are an emerging category for small groups of friends or families who prefer to customize their maritime activities.
- At Ease: Lingering restrictions, frustrating shortages and turbulent air travel have led to increased demand for custom trips made easy. From exclusive-use experiences such as private jets, yachts and villas to booking half days at hotels to ensure they have accommodations that fit their needs, travelers are maximizing comfort. Their desire to leave nothing to chance serves as increased motivation for using a professional travel advisor to simplify bookings and enhance the overall experience.
Italy remains the global favorite destination, whether for families or honeymooners. Croatia and Portugal are the new European favorites for those looking to avoid crowds in Italy and Greece. One of the last countries to open its borders to the outside world, Japan, with its refined culture and in-demand cuisine, heads the list of re-emerging destinations. Travelers are also rediscovering Southeast Asia, with Thailand and Vietnam on the must-see list for many in 2024. Due to elevated interest in the upcoming Paris Olympics, as well as its status as a beloved destination among foodies and art connoisseurs, France ascended into the top five in three categories, including family travel. Adventure seekers are drawn to the enchantment of the northern lights and the unspoiled splendor of Norway, Iceland, Alaska and Antarctica.