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Five Trends Shaping the Travel Industry in 2024: Agoda CEO

Based on the first month of the year, 2024 could be a great year for travel, predicts Omri Morgenshtern, CEO of digital travel platform Agoda. He noted that the new year has been off to an enthusiastic start as it builds on the momentum from 2023 and with tourism prominently on the agenda.

2023 turned out to be a good year for the travel industry with the most notable Year-on-Year growth happening in Asia. Morgenshtern shared “Asia was last out, but fast out post-covid, leading to the highest percentage of YoY growth across Booking Holding brands like Agoda. This was driven by success stories like the popularity of Japan as an international destination, and South Korea and India emerging as outbound travel forces to be reckoned with.”

Here are the five trends the Agoda CEO predicts will shape the travel industry in 2024:

1.    Visa-free travel gathers pace

Tourism features prominently on the agenda for many popular and emerging markets and this has led to a recent wave of visa easements, boosting inbound traffic. For instance, when Malaysia removed restrictions in December 2023, there was a four-fold increase in searches from India and China to Malaysia compared to the previous month. Relaxed visa requirements, such as Indian travelers enjoying visa-free access to destinations like Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, will lead to other markets following suit.

2.    More impetus for connected travel bookings

Travel providers will continue to simplify bookings by seeking ways to seamlessly integrate flights, hotels, experiences, and activities. With 3 out of 4 travelers booking tours, activities, and attractions within a week of their arrival date, it will be welcomed by travelers if convenient opportunities to book ahead are enabled. As people come to expect travel planning within a single interface, providers will need to rise to the challenge by offering a ‘one-source’ travel concierge and cater to a higher demand for flexibility.

3.    Greater assistance from AI

At Agoda, the team has been quietly embracing evolution over revolution, using GenAI to supercharge their team’s performance across all areas of the business. Morgenshtern predicts that in 2024, GenAI will continue to be the biggest opportunity for business. He sees the short to medium term developments in this field as the most exciting.

4.    Further rise of B2B loyalty programs

B2B loyalty programs will make a bigger mark on travel in 2024 and will play a role in driving the growth of the category, with 69% of travelers interested in earning rewards for wellness behaviors and two-thirds eager to earn rewards for sustainable practices, according to a Mastercard study.

5.    Travel fintech makes its mark

Fintech solutions are enabling ever-more seamless payments for travelers, especially in cross-border travel interaction with domestic payment options, and the proliferation of QR payments. More financing options brought closer to the customer break the boundaries for many people and expedite the process of exposing more and more people to travel.

Morgenshtern believes that private sector innovation will accelerate this trend but ultimately public and private sector will need to work together on fintech solutions for seamless travel experiences.

Morgenshtern concludes: “Fueled by more frictionless visa experiences, travel continues to gain pace. With technology playing an even bigger role in how people choose, book and pay for travel, 2024 promises to be a watershed year.

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