In a world increasingly driven by experiences, consumer behavior is undergoing a significant shift. The splurge index from McKinsey highlights a compelling trend – individuals are now favoring spending on experiences over material possessions. As we delve into the latest statistics and industry trends for 2024, it becomes evident that the tours and activities sector is surging, aiming to become a formidable $300 billion industry.

Let’s explore the dynamic landscape of consumer preferences and travel patterns that define the current state of the experiences industry.

Generational trends

The travel landscape is evolving, shaped significantly by the preferences and behaviors of different generations. Millennials and Gen Z are emerging as the primary drivers of this change, showcasing a distinct set of priorities and values. This section delves into how these younger generations approach travel, emphasizing the importance of social interactions, authenticity, and unique experiences.

Gen Z travel

  • Millennials and Gen Z travel 3x more compared to Boomers (Federal Reserve)
  • Social media response is more important for Millennial/Gen Z travelers than having an authentic experience (Fevo at Arival Orlando)
  • 49% of Gen Z and Millennial travelers say experiences play a significant role in their destination choice (Fevo at Arival Orlando)
  • Social media response is considered more important than having an authentic experience for 31% of younger travelers (Fevo at Arival Orlando)
  • Younger generations such as Millenials and Gen Z want shopping and booking to be collaborative and social, including features like split payment with friends(Fevo at Arival Orlando)
  • Brands are encouraged to live their values and demonstrate them in marketing and advertising to attract younger audiences (Arival)

Changes to the way people book experiences

The digital era has transformed the way individuals plan and book their travel experiences. Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have witnessed unprecedented growth, challenging traditional booking methods. This section explores the dynamic shifts in booking trends, the rise of online platforms, and the changing role of user reviews in influencing decisions.

  • Online Travel Agency (OTA) growth is 300%, while operator websites show 150% growth from 2019-2025 (Arival)
  • Google has surpassed TripAdvisor as the top platform for leaving reviews with 30% of reviews (Arival)
  • Search and discovery are being performed mostly via Google and family & friends, followed by Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok – travelers are using a very large range of platforms (Arival)
  • Travelers want both last-minute and plan-ahead options: Customers want the ability to book experiences both “well in advance” as well as “last minute” across all activities, noting a 52% growth in bookings 0-3 days ahead of time and 94% growth in bookings taking place over 16 days ahead. (GetYourGuide)
  • Operators must be online to capture demand: Online and app booking experiences are largely preferred for Modern Explorers – GetYourGuide noted 142% growth in mobile bookings between 2022 and 2023 (GetYourGuide)

Travel behaviors changing

Even as the number of trips decreases, travel behaviors are undergoing a transformation. This section examines the trends of staying longer and spending more on each trip, the shift in destination choices, and the evolving priorities of today’s travelers.

European tourism trends

  • Despite taking fewer trips, travelers are staying longer and spending more on each trip than before the pandemic (Arival)
  • More Americans are heading to Europe in 2023 than in 2021 (Arival)
  • Flexibility rules: Modern Explorers prioritize flexible online bookings over price, and are more willing to book an experience that clearly displays ratings or customer reviews (GetYourGuide)
  • Younger travelers prioritize social media response and content creation in their travel choices
  • Tours and activities are the 3rd largest sector, on track to become a $300 billion industry (Arival)
  • Sightseeing tours are the most popular, followed by culinary experiences and tours/experiences hosted by locals
  • Private tours are chosen by 47% of US travelers surveyed, mainly by affluent travelers (Arival)
  • Despite economic pressures, travelers intend to increase their spending on experiences in 2024 (GetYourGuide)
  • Travelers spent 25% more per trip on average in 2023 compared to 2019 (Arival)
  • Affluent travelers accounted for 22% of travelers but nearly half (46%) of all experiences spend (Arival)
  • Private and cultural tours have experienced 200% YoY growth, and outdoor activities have endured a 75% growth rate (Arival)
  • Climate change and sustainability are discussed as factors that will impact travel (Arival)
  • Bleisure (business & leisure) travel is on the rise (Arival)
  • Spending on experiences is here to stay: Most Modern Explorers plan to spend either the same amount or more on travel activities in the coming year as they did the year prior, despite inflation (GetYourGuide)

Latest industry trajectory

Even as the number of trips decreases, travel behaviors are undergoing a transformation. According to Arival, an outlook for the global travel experiences sector through 2025 – projects global gross industry revenue to surpass pre-pandemic (2019) levels by 2024, assuming no more major disruptive pandemic waves.

  • 2024 global travel market expected to approach $270 billion (GetYourGuide)
  • 2024 predictions include a return to pre-pandemic booking levels and a focus on back-to-the-future trends (Arival)
  • Emphasis on the role of technology, sustainability, and distribution channels in shaping the industry (Phocuswire)
  • Despite economic pressures, travelers intend to increase their spending on experiences in 2024 (Arival)

Bigger opportunities for distributions

Distribution channels play a pivotal role in connecting travelers with a myriad of experiences. Yet, there are opportunities that remain untapped. This section delves into the challenges faced by day tour operators, the adoption of online booking systems, and the evolving landscape of distribution in the travel industry.

  • More than half of day tour operators are not using an online booking system (Arival)
  • 69% of activities and 77% of attractions are using an online booking system (Arival)
  • Online channels, especially OTAs, to outperform traditional offline booking methods (Arival)
  • There is a huge demand for Channel management, with operators frustrated they aren’t getting what they need from current distribution platforms (Arival)

The power of social media

Social media platforms have become instrumental in shaping travel choices and sharing experiences. TikTok has risen to prominence, impacting tour planning. This section explores the sway of social media, the platforms influencing decisions, and the significant role played by user-generated content.

tiktok travel trends

  • Social media platforms influencing tour planning with TikTok rising to the second position in 2023, with Google at number 1 (Arival)
  • Travelers post about their experiences on Facebook (69%), Instagram (59%), and TikTok (47%) – (Arival)
  • Diversification of audiences is recommended through strategies such as moving beyond digital media, emotionally engaging creative advertising, and leveraging influencers

Experience marketing and how to captivate new audiences

During the Arival Orlando panel on experiential marketing, industry experts shared valuable insights on reaching new audiences and diversifying through innovative strategies. Here are seven actionable tips gathered from the panel discussion:

1. Embrace diversity beyond digital media

Diversifying your audience requires a multifaceted strategy. While digital media is undoubtedly essential, it shouldn’t be your sole focus. Explore alternative channels such as in-person events, collaborations, and community engagement to create a more comprehensive and inclusive marketing approach.

2. Evoke emotion through creative storytelling

Move beyond traditional advertising by connecting with your audience on a deeper level. Craft compelling narratives that resonate emotionally with your audience. By weaving stories into your marketing, you create memorable experiences that foster a genuine connection between your brand and consumers.

3. Collaborate with influencers authentically

Engage influencers in a meaningful way by forming genuine relationships over time. Allow influencers to create authentic content that aligns with their personal brand. This authenticity not only enhances your reach through social media but also establishes trust with your audience.

4. Surround yourself with good company

Leverage human influencers and company influence partners to amplify your brand’s message. Aligning with like-minded individuals and organizations enhances your credibility and expands your reach within specific communities. Cultivate partnerships that reflect your values and resonate with your target audience.

5. Live your brand values

Position your brand as a verb, not just a noun. Showcase your values, mission, and ethics in your marketing efforts. Younger audiences are drawn to experiences that align with their beliefs, so ensure your brand actively lives out its values, reflecting them in every aspect of your attraction or experience.

6. Turn fans into fanbassadors

Your existing customers can be your most powerful advocates. Develop strategies to turn satisfied customers into brand ambassadors. Encourage user-generated content, testimonials, and participation in loyalty programs. When customers become ambassadors, they not only promote your brand but also contribute to a sense of community.

7. Embrace TikTok

Tap into the dynamic world of TikTok to attract new and younger audiences. Collaborate with TikTok content creators, influencers, or create your own engaging content. The platform’s vibrant and creative community offers a unique opportunity to showcase your brand in a way that resonates with the preferences of the younger demographic.

By incorporating these strategies into your experiential marketing efforts, you’ll not only diversify your audience but also create memorable and meaningful connections that go beyond traditional advertising methods.

The influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In the ever-evolving landscape of the travel and tourism industry, Artificial Intelligence (AI) emerges as a transformative force, reshaping how we plan, experience, and understand our journeys. This section delves into the profound influence of AI, unraveling its multifaceted role across various dimensions of travel. From crafting innovative product concepts to revolutionizing marketing strategies, enhancing the quality of tours, and streamlining content creation, AI stands as a powerful ally in navigating the complexities of the modern travel ecosystem. Join us on a journey into the heart of AI’s impact, exploring its applications, challenges, and the promising horizon it paints for the future of travel.

AI in travel and tourism

  • AI is used across the industry, and it’s believed to be one of the most well-protected industries from AI taking over jobs (Arival Orlando)
  • AI is used across travel for various purposes, including creating product concepts, marketing plans, enhancing tours, and creating content (Arival Orlando – AI panel)
  • AI is viewed as the most exciting tech change, with examples like AI mocking up a theme park and AI robots upgrading and buying tickets within parks (Arival Orlando – AI panel)

Top travel destinations in 2024

Nature Enthusiasts

Embark on a journey into the heart of natural wonders, where breathtaking landscapes and serene environments beckon. From captivating limestone formations to pristine beaches and charming market towns, these destinations offer a perfect escape for those seeking the tranquility and beauty of the great outdoors. Immerse yourself in the wonders of nature and discover the allure of these breathtaking landscapes.

The data below have been extracted from Tripadvisor.

  1. Halong Bay (Vietnam):
    • Great for Nature and Wildlife Tours
    • Stand Up Paddleboarding
    • Spas
    • Kayaking Tours
  2. Palawan Island (Philippines):
    • Great for Multi-day & Extended Tours
    • Resorts
    • Snorkeling
    • Unwind
  3. Sapa (Vietnam):
    • Great for Hiking Tours
    • Art & history
    • Climbing
    • Running Tours
  4. Jeju Island (South Korea):
    • Great for Nature and Wildlife Tours
    • Resorts
    • Climbing
    • Bars
  5. Viti Levu (Fiji):
    • Great for Ports of Call Tours
    • The great outdoors
    • Half-day Tours
    • Cultural Tours


Embark on a culinary adventure as we explore destinations that tantalize the taste buds and celebrate the diversity of flavors. From bustling markets to eclectic dining scenes, these locales promise a feast for the senses. Dive into the local food culture, savor authentic dishes, and experience the unique fusion of traditions and flavors that define each region.

  1. Tokyo (Japan):
    • Sushi, udon noodles, and wagashi (Japanese sweets)
    • Karaoke bars
    • Toyosu Market fish auction
    • Cherry blossom tree-lined Sumida River
  2. Seoul (South Korea):
    • Teahouses and shops of Insadong
    • Gyeongbokgung grounds and museums
    • Authentic Korean flavor
    • Changdeokgung Palace’s authentic ancient architecture
  3. Bogota (Colombia):
    • Eclectic and authentic dining hot spots
    • Foodie festivals
    • Historic district of La Candelaria
    • North Side shopping adventure
  4. Alajuela (Costa Rica):
    • Pura vida lifestyle
    • Alajuela Central Market for authentic casado
    • Nature – rolling hills, coffee farms, Poás Volcano
    • La Paz Waterfall Gardens
  5. Chennai (India):
    • Rich cultural scene
    • Bharatanatyam (local form of classical dance)
    • Pongal festival in January
    • New year celebration in April

Adventure Seekers

For those craving excitement and new experiences, dive into heart-pounding adventures. Whether drawn to watersports, hiking through scenic landscapes, or encountering vibrant wildlife, these destinations cater to the adventurous spirit. Immerse yourself in the thrill of exploration, embrace breathtaking landscapes, and discover the joy of seeking out daring experiences in these captivating locations.

  1. Pattaya (Thailand):
    • Watersports at Jomtien Beach
    • Giant Buddha of Wat Khao Phra Bat
    • Wang Boran Sanctuary of Truth
    • Bars and strip clubs for nightlife
  2. Huaraz (Peru):
    • Nature and Wildlife Tours
    • Hiking Tours
    • Archaeology Tours
    • Winter Sports
  3. Nairobi (Kenya):
    • Safari capital of Africa
    • Karen Blixen Museum
    • Giraffe Centre
    • Nairobi National Park for black rhinos
  4. La Paz (Bolivia):
    • Sitting in the Andes Mountains
    • 19th-century churches
    • Museums of artifacts
    • Witches’ Market for Aymara rituals
  5. Port Ghalib (Egypt):
    • Blend of relaxation, adventure, and luxury
    • Golden sands and blue waters
    • Sataya Reef for coral reef exploration
    • Port Ghalib Marina for nightlife

Cultural Explorers

Uncover rich history, artistic treasures, and vibrant traditions in destinations that beckon cultural explorers. From architectural marvels to historic sites, these locales offer a blend of experiences. Immerse yourself in diverse cultural scenes, explore colorful streets, and embrace the cultural heritage woven into the fabric of each region. These destinations promise a captivating journey into the heart of cultural richness.

  1. Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia):
    • Petronas Twin Towers
    • Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple
    • Central Market for handicrafts
    • Cultural hub with diverse experiences
  2. Phnom Penh (Cambodia):
    • Temples, palaces, and French colonial history
    • The Killing Fields (Choeung Ek)
    • Reasonably priced hotel rooms
    • Budget-friendly exploration
  3. Puebla (Mexico):
    • Colorful, Talavera-tiled buildings
    • Birthplace of mole poblano
    • Active Popocatepetl volcano backdrop
    • Bars and historical tours
  4. Bandung (Indonesia):
    • Dutch Colonial architecture
    • Botanic garden and zoo
    • Culinary offerings
    • Cooler weather and local eats
  5. Brasov (Romania):
    • Traditional charm and modern city life
    • Strada Sforii – narrowest street in Europe
    • Fortified church of Prejmer
    • Dracula’s Castle (Bran Castle)


As we conclude our exploration of industry stats and predictions for 2024, the landscape of the experience appears both dynamic and promising. From the ever-changing preferences of today’s travelers to the integration of cutting-edge technologies, the experiences industry continues to evolve. Operators and enthusiasts navigating this exciting terrain, armed with insights from industry leaders and a keen understanding of market trends, will undoubtedly pave the way for success in this vibrant and ever-growing sector.

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