Our fifth annual Travel Sentiment Survey polled 1,629 luxury travelers (our largest number of respondents ever) for three weeks in August and September about their opinions on the current travel landscape, and the results are in. What destinations are they dreaming about or already booking in 2024? How are they feeling about hotel availability, quality of service, their airport and flying experiences? Here are all the highlights along with the top trends in travel on our radar now.
The Key Takeaways
More, more, more—travelers are demanding (and spending) at rates similar to (or surpassing) those prior to the pandemic.
With travel and bookings within the Indagare community returning to (or exceeding) pre-covid levels, there continues to be pent-up travel demand and a desire to make up for lost time—96 percent of those surveyed in late-August and September said they are planning more/the same trips; 53 percent are planning more trips. Even with the challenges of airlines, understaffing and higher prices (“more frustration, more crowds, more delays” cited one respondent)—our community is interested in traveling more, and for longer, than during the past year. Despite increasing costs, travelers we polled intend to spend more across the board to travel in 2024: 46 percent plan to spend more on hotels; 45 percent expect to spend more on airfare and 42 percent on restaurants and special experiences; 31 percent plan to spend more on touring.
“Travel has become even more important to me. I want to see the world, so I will return to spots I have loved, but add new trips. I allow myself a variety of trips—family, romantic couple, girlfriends—and my own time for retreats, diving into the cultures through all elevated groups. I switch between private villas and hotels on purpose. I spend even more on travel than before. I research differently for different trips.”-A traveler in our Fall 2023 Sentiment Survey
Where to next? The top travel destinations & the types of trips that travelers are dreaming of most right now
What are the destinations Indagare travelers say they are extremely/somewhat likely to travel to in 2024? It was no surprise, based on the trends we’ve been seeing within the Indagare community in recent months that the U.S. (91 percent) and Europe (89 percent) took the top spots, while the Caribbean was third at 46 percent. And Asia, back on the traveler’s map again post-Covid, had significant interest with just shy of 40 percent of travelers expressing interest. Mexico and Canada were not far behind at 35 percent; and Central + South America (33 percent) and Africa (32 percent), respectively. While the poll was taken prior to recent terrorist attacks in Israel, there had also been significant interest in travel to the Middle East (27 percent), along with Australia (23 percent)—the latter, proof of an increasing interest in far-flung trips.
The Indagare Bookings team has also been seeing similar results. Some of our team took part in their own travel poll. The most requested cities: Paris, London, Rome, plus Capri came up most. And while the most requested regions for 2023 and 2024 travel include France, Italy and much of Western Europe, results also indicated that big “bucket list” trips are especially popular at the moment: Members of our community are looking to make up for lost time in far-flung places beyond Europe, like New Zealand, many African countries (including for safari, especially in Rwanda) and Japan.
We’re happy to report that members of the Indagare community value unique, meaningful experiences more than ever—perhaps more so as popular destinations are increasingly overrun with crowds. They say they’re also relishing “getting to new places and returning to old [ones].” Most desired trips include cultural exploration (82 percent), active/adventure (68 percent), family trips (68 percent); wellness (65 percent); culinary and remote/off the beaten path (62 percent); safari and private villas/home (60 percent). They have also continued to express interest in pursuing both small-group trips and solo travel. For the holidays in 2023, after being at home (43 percent), 18 percent are planning to head to the beach. The most requested trips our Trip Designers and Bookings teams are seeing right now are family trips, cultural exploration, active/adventure, safari/conservation, private villas and home rentals.
“The novelty, inspiration and restoration that really well-designed travel offers is a special luxury. Having had the ability to travel taken away for two years made me realize how much travel matters to my family’s soul and well-being. Also, having a professional partner to design and serve as a touchpoint when things maybe don’t go as planned has been very useful. ” -A traveler in our Fall 2023 Sentiment Survey
Hotel intel: The good, the bad and the ugly truth about staffing & service
What are the top reasons to book hotels? Apparently, location, location, location (84 percent), followed—not surprisingly—by cost (50 percent) and service (45 percent) and the recommendation of friend/family (36 percent). One third (33 percent) cited design and decor and Indagare’s stamp of approval as key considerations as well. The Indagare community is discerning when it comes to the types of hotels they like most: 76 percent of respondents told us they are leaning towards smaller boutique hotels right now, while 45 percent prefer hotels from well-known brands and 34 percent opt for adventure/luxury lodges; grand dames/iconic properties pulled in more than one-quarter of those who responded (28 percent); 24 percent chose wellness/spa. The desire for more intimacy, plus a more personalized feel resonated with our respondents. Travelers in our community also indicated a strong preference for hotels with a distinctive sense of place (also one of our favorite criteria for evaluating properties in our Indagare Index Adored Collection). Other factors that influence their decision-making: pricing and the uniqueness of the property, amenities and hotel loyalty programs, a hotel’s reputation, the level of service as well as a restaurant on-site.
Air travel trends: Delays and cancellations abound—as does a new preference for minimizing travel during peak seasons.
Given airline challenges such as frequent delays and cancellations (not to mention increased costs), it’s no surprise that flights and flying in general were the greatest source of frustration for travelers surveyed—and the top reason for canceled plans in recent months. As a result, members of the Indagare community also said they were more likely to book direct flights and avoid layovers whenever possible. Respondents also said they were looking to avoid crowds by minimizing flight times as well as travel during peak seasons; they were more likely to travel more during off seasons or head to off-the-beaten path destinations more than they have previously. A new trend for all-season travel has officially emerged. Stay tuned for more on this new trend in our Fall/Winter Indagare magazine coming in November.
Flights and flying in general were the greatest source of frustration for travelers surveyed this fall—and the top reason for canceled plans in recent months.
The Indagare team has experienced first-hand an increase in last-minute booking requests. On the hotel front, hotel companies are also on the receiving end of this trend. Travelers expect to be able to book at the last-minute and want better pricing—assuming that there are discounts to be had. Unfortunately, the opposite is true, but the mindset has not caught up to reality. There’s still a disconnect for many travelers between ongoing low availability and increased prices.
Quick Takes: More trends on our radar
Making a positive impact
We’re pleased that our survey also revealed that Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Environmental Conservation and Community Development—pillars in our mission to positively impact the places we visit—matter to our community. The majority (52 percent) of Indagare Members (and 59 percent of all respondents) would add over three percent on top of their total trip cost to ensure carbon neutrality or benefit philanthropic initiatives. Of those surveyed about impact and Indagare’s impact pillars, 80 percent ranked Preservation of Cultural Heritage as Extremely/Very Important, along with 70 percent for Environmental Conservation and 39 percent Community Development.
At this time, Indagare community said they were unlikely to use AI tools/ChatGPT (two out of 10) to plan travel. They might consider it to help with research, build an itinerary or matchmake destinations around prices and availability. One traveler surveyed said, “I worry that it’s not good enough yet to help with things like trip-planning when I have limited time to travel and plan to spend to have a luxury experience (e.g. high risk, if it goes wrong).” Technology around profiles was, however, seen as key to creating a more seamless customer experience, according to survey responses.
Carry-on & “Clear”ing the way
Our community is now following Indagare Founder and CEO Melissa Biggs Bradley’s pro travel tip of packing only carry-on and taking advantage of services such as TSA pre-check, Clear and Global Entry to speed through airports and controlling the travel experience where possible.
“I now always carry on my luggage as a result of losing my luggage on a trip to Europe after Covid. Also, I have joined more of the convenient travel services like TSA pre-check and CLEAR in order to stream-line what appears to be an increase in worldwide travel.”
Best for last: If you could go anywhere, where would you go/what type of trip would you take now?
Just for fun, we asked this question to see what trip they would love to take right now—some said villa rentals and yacht charters, while others mentioned safaris and cruises. And Italy and Japan both made the list. Several members also shared their most memorable recent travel moments. Here are a few we loved:
“Being on safari with our family (three times so far and this spring we will be taking our grandkids for the first time).”
“We stayed in the Moroccan desert in tents with my family that Indagare set up—trip of a lifetime! We also went during Ramadan which was such a unique cultural experience.”
“The elderly gentleman secretly sketching me at La Coupole. So very Parisian.”
“Making eye contact with a young lion who came to investigate my safari vehicle.”
“The dramatic entrance we experienced when our family entered the Aman hotel in Tokyo after a long day of travel. Otherworldly!”
“Lunching as if on the beach in the salt flats in Bolivia: surreal, exotic—only Indagare could pull this off!”
About the Indagare 2023 Travel Sentiment Survey
The Fall 2023 Indagare Travel Sentiment Survey, was conducted online for three weeks from August 27 through September 18, 2023 to examine luxury travelers’ current attitudes about leisure travel. The survey contained 31 questions designed to identify their current travel behaviors, concerns, domestic and international destinations of interest, future travel passions, along with trends in hotels, flying, family and bucket list trips, safaris and much more. Nearly 31 percent of respondents in the Indagare survey were between the ages of 55 to 64. 92 percent were between the ages of 25 and 74. Among those surveyed, 65 percent were Subscribers, 19 percent were Members, 42 percent were social followers, 31 percent were Custom Planners, 52 percent were Self Planners and 6 percent, Group Trips Travelers.