SINGAPORE, Feb. 5, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — 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. Speaking at the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2024 (ATF) in Laos on January 26, Morgenshtern 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, where Agoda is well-established. 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.”
Following ATF, Morgenshtern is even more optimistic for 2024, with markets spearheading tourism campaigns for 2024, and inspiring discussions about how travelers are taking full advantage of innovative technologies and fewer travel restrictions. 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. This will further reduce friction in travel and enable destinations to diversify their source markets in a bid to boost inbound traffic. For instance, when Malaysia removed restrictions at the beginning of December, there was a four-fold increase in searches from India and China to Malaysia compared to the previous month. A simple move that brought about significant change. Morgenshtern predicts 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. Agoda incentivizes this by often applying additional discounts when accommodation and flights are booked together. 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.
Morgenshtern adds: “The vision is simple. We want to be that one stop solution for your travel experience, from the moment you start to think about traveling to the return trip home. And by providing all the services in a way that is very personalized and localized we also want to show you how you could enhance the travel experience.”
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’s mission to empower employees with AI has paid off, with engineers significantly increasing their efficiency. 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
The intersection of fintech and travel is reshaping the way consumers manage their finances while exploring the world. 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: “The private sector has an important role to play in fintech, because the tech and the speed can be pushed by the private sector. 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. From fintech and AI innovations to connected booking experiences, Agoda is at the forefront of this incredible, transformative journey.”
– Ends –
Notes to Editor:
Agoda, a digital travel platform, helps anyone see the world for less with its great value deals on a global network of 3.9M hotels and holiday properties worldwide, plus flights, airport transfers, and more. Agoda.com and the Agoda mobile app are available in 39 languages and supported by 24/7 customer support.
Headquartered in Singapore, Agoda is part of Booking Holdings (Nasdaq: BKNG) and employs more than 6,700 staff in 31 markets, dedicated to leveraging best-in-class technology to make travel even easier.
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