Good News for Tournaments: Surveys Show Travelers Seeking Experiences | Sports Destination Management

Good News for Tournaments: Surveys Show Travelers Seeking Experiences

Mar 01, 2024 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

What are the top travel trends? A few years ago, it was the self-explanatory “revenge travel.” Today, though, it appears travelers are looking to the outdoors for adventures (good news for sports travel).

A recent article in Hotel Management quoted Deloitte’s Travel Outlook, noting that Americans “are placing a larger priority on travel. Across seasons, Americans’ travel spending intentions have shown more resilience than other spend categories, such as retail or automotive. Some of the top trends are as follows.

Experiences as a Goal: Travelers also want to do things. In another signal of enthusiasm, intent to engage with in-destination activities has climbed. Travelers planning to visit an attraction on their holiday trips jumped from 36 percent in 2022 to 43 percent in 2023.”

Destinations with options for families will benefit from this, but they’re not the only ones. Experience-driven travel feeds into bucket-list travel for adults; this often means participating in marathons (destination marathons are a big draw) as well as what has become known as WINN (When If Not Now) travel. A prime example of this is participation in events like senior games. Count on WINNers to be there for the experience, including social events.

Travel Trends: 2024 Looking Good for SportsAt the same time, those who travel have been doing their research. As a result, they are better informed than travelers of years ago.

Sustainable Travel (But Not in Name Only): Roadbook says 2024 will be “The Year of Debunking and Reclaiming.” Sustainable travel (the practice of avoiding over-visited areas where exploration is detrimental to wildlife) is big, as is benefitting local economies by patronizing independent establishments, such as small businesses) has gained favor; however, says Roadbook, such travel needs to be affordable.

One key practice in sustainable travel is planning for the shoulder season, when a visit will mean more to local merchants, and when crowding is down.

And because travelers are reading reviews and doing their research (as well as reading multiple forums), they know when someone is hiding bad practices behind a green label; the term “greenwashing,” exists for precisely that reason.

They’re also wise to promises of sustainability and social benefits offered by travel. The word of the year 2024 appears to be: Authentic.

Jettisoning Daily Housekeeping: Those who want to travel, even when traveling with groups of youth athletes, are still opting out of daily housekeeping – a good thing, since more than two thirds of hotels continue to experience staffing shortages.

In fact, notes Hotel Management, “The ongoing staffing challenges present career opportunities for hotel employees, with more than 70,000 hotel jobs currently open across the nation, according to Indeed. As of December, national average hotel wages were at an all-time high of $23.91 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, average hotel wages have increased faster than average wages throughout the general economy since the pandemic, and hotel benefits and flexibility are better than ever.”

Good Hotel Experiences: Knowing that guests are likely to use online reviews than to lodge complaints while they are staying in a hotel, management is taking steps to try to head problems off at the pass – before they become complaints. One of the chief problems in hotels (yet one few guests actually call the front desk to report) is excessive noise.

Hotel Management notes, “ Noise complaints rank as the most common grievances in the hotel industry, with just 25 percent of them formally reported. The remaining 75 percent find their way into online reviews, which has the potential to result in a staggering loss of up to 70 percent in future bookings.”

Yikes. As a result, hotels are increasingly implementing noise monitoring systems that allow management to identify individuals responsible for noise violations, keep tabs on the occupancy of rooms and track if a party is taking place.

“Not only does noise monitoring allow hotels to track parties taking place, but it ensures that all guests are happy and more likely to leave positive reviews, as well as return to the hotel. According to the North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study (2019), 78 percent of guests who experience a better-than-expected quality of sleep in a peaceful hotel will make another booking.”

The Return of Air Travel: If hotels can manage to make guests happy, that’s good news. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that the number of passengers traveling by air will reach 4.7 billion in 2024, a jump from the 4.5 billion passengers who traveled in 2019. This increase is driven by changing travel habits.

Of course, notes the article, “more flights booked to capacity will mean fewer last-minute discounts, so waiting for price drops may be less productive in 2024 than in the past.”

Passport Wait Times are Down: According to the State Department, the wait time for passport applications to be processed has returned to its pre-2020 figures. (Traveling more and waiting less? Win/Win.)

The only bad news in the travel industry is the increase in fees for checked luggage; in some cases, the per-bag charge has risen as high as $75. 

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