Influencers become agents, business class fares unbundle, artificial intelligence matures, and musical tourism drives demand, while eVTOLs prepare for take-off
Travelers never stand still for long. This is an industry of dynamic change, one always evolving and adapting to the latest innovation, fashion, or cultural shift. While it is impossible to know exactly what tomorrow will bring, Amadeus' position at the heart of the travel ecosystem gives unparalleled insight into the future.
Using the latest propriety data, industry-leading insight, and expert analysis from across the organization, Amadeus here explores what might be in store next year in its annual Travel Trends research. Identified are five developments that aim to create more meaningful travel experiences for the planet, economy, and the traveler.
Daniel Batchelor, Vice President, Global Corporate Marketing & Communications at Amadeus, says: “After a period of recalibration and reassessment over the past few years, we are beginning to see a host of new ideas bear fruit across our industry.
“Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) will continue to exert a growing influence across the sector during 2024, while electric taxis are finally poised for take-off. Doing what we love, be it traveling to see our favorite music acts or using new tools to follow in the footsteps of digital influencers, will also drive bookings next year, while airlines continue to reshape their offering to respond to changing tastes.
“There is much to look forward to, and Amadeus will be working alongside our partners from across the travel ecosystem to drive change for the traveler, wherever we can.”
After the social isolation of the pandemic, when bands and musical artists were grounded for months, a boom in concerts and festivals has this year tapped into a desire for connection. The trend is expected to accelerate as we look toward 2024.
UK rock band Coldplay recently announced tour dates for next year, drawing fans from around the world. Amadeus research suggests Coldplay concert dates in Romania and Greece for 2024 had a significant impact on search and booking volumes in both countries.
Flight searches to Athens, Greece, increased by 62% in the week the concert was announced and the demand for short trips (within week or weekend) also saw a significant increase. The concert announcement also influenced the searches for flights to Romania, which rose by 91% during the week of the show when compared to the prior week.
Taylor Swift will also continue touring in 2024 – and continues to influence global travel. According to a recent media alert from Amadeus, which has analyzed flight searches around performance dates in the Asia Pacific region, there is a correlation between bookings and the dates of her concerts. Amadeus research shows that with the return of live concerts approaching pre-pandemic levels, Australia is gearing up for a tourism boom. Shows in Melbourne and Sydney in February 2024 have had a “very significant impact” on booking volumes to Australia, with an average week-over-week growth of 446%.
Agents of influence
Social media has become a powerful force during the inspiration phase of a trip, but a new shift is happening. Instead of influencers solely being the source of vacation inspiration for their communities, they are now facilitators of direct bookings through their varying channels. Influencers, such as Ana Hernández Sárria, travel photographer Rafael Fernandez Caballero, travel blogger the Blonde Abroad, yoga and movement coach Sjana Elise, and full-time traveler and content creator, Alyssa Ramos, are designing and hosting their own group trips.
The rise of so-called “Agents of Influence” is being facilitated by e-commerce marketplaces such as Thatch, Luxury Travel Hackers and TrovaTrip, which Inc ranked number 236 out of 5,000 of the fast-growing companies in the US in 2023. This technology allows influencers using Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, for example, to share a booking link directly on their profile page and process payments.
As cities are more congested and air pollution is more prevalent, a potential solution to fossil-fuel-powered transportation will be the emergence of skyways that allow flying taxis, electric vertical take-off, and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and other kinds of electric aircraft to provide lower emission air travel options, both within urban areas, to satellite airports, cross-country and between islands.
It may seem very futuristic but German aircraft manufacturer Volocopter is planning to provide a fleet of electric VoloCity eVTOL for the Paris Olympics in 2024, making it one of the first electric air taxi networks. At the same time, Dale Vince, founder of the green energy company, Ecotricity, plans to debut an electric airline called Ecocity in the UK, powered by green hydrogen.
Toff Mobility, the first electric air company in Asia, is working toward debuting electric aircraft in 2024 in South Korea, while Surcar Airlines has selected Zeroavia to provide hydrogen-electric engines for its seaplanes in the Canary Islands.
Over in the US, Joby Aviation intends to start commercial eVTOL flights from 2025 and has signed agreements to work with Delta Air Lines and Japanese airline ANA, which wants to operate e-taxi flights during the Expo 2025 in Osaka. In the UK, Virgin Atlantic has invested in a fleet of Vertical Aerospace eVTOL that could serve a city-to-city network of Electric Skyways as soon as 2025.
Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) is adding tremendous value to the online travel planning experience for consumers, as search and advice become hyper personalized and more intuitive. Instead of selecting filters to fine-tune a search on a metasearch site or online travel agency (OTA), travelers can simply provide a brief to a chatbot in the same way you would a human advisor.
For example, a new ChatGPT plug-in from Expedia acts like a virtual travel assistant, listening to customer needs and delivering instant hotel and itinerary recommendations, with links to book.
The next generation of GAI-powered customer service will be delivered with greater patience and empathy, reducing the workload of employees to deal with the bulk of after-sales servicing and customer review management, giving them the bandwidth to provide the human touch on more specialist issues.
With ever-more travelers wanting to fly at the front of the plane, there is an opportunity to offer more affordable and accessible “unbundled” business class fares.
In 2019, Emirates was one of the first airlines to launch “special” business class tickets, with no lounge access, restricted seat selection and no upgrade abilities. Qatar Airways followed, unveiling a Business Class Lite fare, with passengers asked to pay extra for lounge access and date or route changes, while they also earn fewer Avios/Qmiles.
With the trend gathering momentum, Zipair of Japan and Finnair began offering basic business tickets in 2021, while Air France and KLM added Business Class Light fares in 2023.
At the other end of the scale, airlines are also installing more spacious “luxe” business class seats in row one that are only available to a limited few. Examples include the new Upper Class Retreat Suite from Virgin Atlantic; the Prime business class seat from Condor; Air France’s bulkhead seats on its reconfigured B777-300ERs; and JetBlue’s Mint Studio on the A321LR.
Evidence of this trend continuing through 2024 includes news from Air New Zealand, which will be adding either four or eight rows of a debut Business Premier Luxe product, while Lufthansa will offer seven types of Allegris business class from 2024 at varying prices with varying perks.
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 eVTOLs are electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft
 Origin of Data – These data points are based on research by Amadeus data science teams. Data is drawn from a custom search dataset, Amadeus Master Pricer and Amadeus Agency Insights. Amadeus Air Search Travel Data is the most complete suite of air data in the travel industry and includes shopping transactions performed by +2,500 customers including the world's top travel agencies. It consists of consolidated data generated by daily transactions.