Meeting Mentor Magazine

March 2024

Top Group Travel Trends for 2024

What will be at the top of the priority list for group travel in the coming year? Thanks to a new survey by Marriott International, we now know what’s at the top of the list of most desired group travel event experiences for 2024.

People do love to experience good food and beverage when they travel, and that won’t change for 2024, according to a recent survey of 1,000 U.S.–based group travel and event planners commissioned by Marriott International. The Marriott Group Travel Trends survey, conducted on Marriott’s behalf by 72Point, food and beverage topped the list at 44%, with transportation coming in at 37% when it comes to the type of event experiences planners anticipate incorporating into their group travel programs next year.

Interestingly, cultural and localized experiences also are at the top of the priority list for group travel in 2024, the survey found, along with culinary experiences (30%), wellness (26%) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities (26%). And those items may be more integrated than one would think at first glance. While the survey didn’t delve into the interconnectedness of the various trends, the farm-to-table F&B trend many planners have been following for several years fits right into both providing local experiences and exquisite F&B.

“Travelers are seeking more meaningful group travel experiences that focus on personalized, flexibility, and cultural immersion,” said Louise Bang, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Marriott International CALA. “Whether planning leisure or business travel, the new generation of travelers wants to get out and actively explore destinations.”

And CSR activities often also serve to connect attendees with the local community in which their event is held — and can offer a way to get people immersed into the culture and needs of that community. Two-thirds of respondents said their top CSR experiences would include environmentally friendly initiatives such as planting trees or cleaning up trash (46% said they wanted to incorporate more sustainable experiences), while 58% want to incorporate hospital visits and charitable donations.

Wellness at events, another trend that appears to be accelerating, is also changing a bit. While once it could be fulfilled by offering a spa option for free time, the survey finds that more than half of respondents said they wanted to offer more immersive experiences offered not just at the spa but throughout a hotel’s property. Two of the possibilities mentioned as popular were creative fitness classes and workshops on nutritious dining.

Other findings include:

• Planners say the key factors that influence their venue selection decisions were alignment of concessions to evolving program goals (49%), adaptability to changing needs (47%) and rapid response to inquiries and requests (46%).

• A venue’s reputation and the planner’s personal experience with a venue are not as important as they used to be, with just 34% saying their selection of a venue/destination was influenced by prior experiences and 33% saying a destination or hotel’s popularity is a key factor.

• Pre-plated meals are being replaced with flexible dining options.

 

 

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates. www.conferencedirect.com

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually. www.meetingmentormag.com

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