Private Tour Industry Could Experience Boom in 2024: Arival

Travelers in 2024 will be cautious with spending, but the private tour industry could experience a boom, according to Douglas Quinby, co-founder and CEO of Arival. Speaking from the recent Arival 360 Conference in Orlando, he revealed several findings—indicating trends in how people will experience travel in 2024—from a recent Arival traveler survey. 

The research, "The 2024 Experiences Traveler," surveyed 1,000 U.S. citizens who have traveled at least 100 miles from home in the past 12 months, including an overnight stay and participation in qualifying tours, activities, attractions or experiences.

Douglas Quinby at Arival 360 Conference
Douglas Quinby at Arival 360 Conference (Arival)

“Travelers are definitely back, but how they’re traveling now isn’t how it was pre-pandemic,” said Quinby. “They are taking fewer trips now. However, the trips they are taking are a lot more meaningful. They are booking longer periods away and are spending a lot more per trip. They’re also doing more on those trips.”

The research also revealed a significant jump in the number of tours people have been taking per trip: The average traveler took 4.7 tours per trip in 2023, compared with 2.7 in 2019.

“People are still wanting to see major landmarks and attractions, but how they’re going about this is different; they want to make it more special and meaningful to them, said Quinby. “So, they are combining these attractions with various types of tours.”

The survey indicated a further drop in the number of trips people are planning to take in 2024. “I don’t think this is anything to be concerned about,” said Quinby. “I think this just reflects the sentiment of travelers today—there’s the cost of living, the economic outlook…and consumer debt is at an all-time high. Many travelers are just being cautious. The exception there is the affluent segment (those with household incomes of more than $150,000 per year); their sentiment is as strong as it was a couple of years ago… they are ready to roll for 2024.”

In this year’s survey, Arival asked respondents whether the tours they were booking were private—to which 47 percent said yes. “They are saying that this is because they want to have an exclusive experience that’s unique for their group, and that this is the priority when booking their trips. This is overwhelmingly the case for affluent travelers. If tour operators have the capacity and ability to add private tours for the affluent traveler segment, then I strongly encourage that in 2024.”

Finally, the survey found that the way people research, book and review tours is changing.

“People are going to a whole range of platforms to research,” said Quinby. “People want to have a full breadth of information at their fingertips before they make their decisions. Tour companies don’t have the brands behind them that airlines and hotels do, so they must take the time to engage with their travelers across all sorts of platforms. Tours and experiences are personal too—people want the option to chat to someone before they book. Likewise, during and post-trip, people are sharing and reviewing their experiences on more and more different platforms—and this is only set to increase in 2024.”

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