The Stars Are the Limit

Trends Shaping Tourist Season 2024

By: Susan DeMatei, Founder of WineGlass Marketing

Can you believe it’s May? Soon rain will abate, vines will reach for the sky, and summer will be here before we know it along with, hopefully, tourists. To prepared for our always-diligent attempt at educated counsel to our clients, we’ve been reading up on all the travel trends for 2024. Will the political climate once again hijack all of America’s attention and make people wary of venturing out? Or will it be more likely to scare us to other countries for a respite abroad? If tasting room traffic is down this year as it was last year, it is even more important to know what consumers are looking for in the hopes of developing programs consumers want. The smart winery will be continually testing different experiences this year to try and attract the right customer to their brand.

Consumers Will Be Vacationing

  Forbes recently surveyed 1,000 Americans asking them about their travel plans this year and it seems wanderlust continues unabated into 2024, with Americans poised to jet set, road trip, and beach bum their way through the year. 52% of respondents bravely committed to maintaining the same travel tempo as the previous year, while an audacious 40% are revving their engines for even more escapades.

  Seems like the young’uns are leading the charge, as always. Gen Z and Millennials are showing off their travel prowess, with 56% and 49% respectively gunning for more stamps in their passports. Meanwhile, Gen X and Baby Boomers are chilling like fine wine, content to keep their travel habits on cruise control.

  What’s on the itinerary, you ask? Well, it’s a classic lineup: family visits, beach frolics, and the timeless allure of the open road. These perennial favorites are still top contenders for 2024, proving that some things never go out of style.

chart showing types of trips americans plan to take in 2024

  It’s clear that the travel bug has an expensive taste and those that are planning to travel realize it will cost them. 39% of respondents are planning to beef up their travel budgets and another 35% will maintain their spending power. How much, you ask? Well, 72% of respondents say they are ready to drop upwards of $2,000 on their escapades and nearly half are primed to dish out a minimum of $4,000 throughout the year. So price doesn’t appear to be a barrier for a good time. ( Who needs to worry about inflation when there are adventures to be had?)

  When faced with the question of how they might be willing to cut back, most opted for a “quality over quantity” approach reporting they’d rather take fewer trips or shorten the duration over cutting back on luxury or experiences.

Destination Trends

  As we review research on 2024 travel, it’s clear that we’re not just chasing destinations—we’re chasing experiences. Whether it’s savoring the silence of a remote getaway or indulging in culinary delights, we’re in pursuit of moments that linger long after the suitcase is unpacked. What follow are seven trends we feel dovetail nicely into Wine Country.

travel changes americans will make due to continued inflation

Home Swapping: A New Twist on Hospitality

  In a world where the line between work and play blurs, travelers are seeking longer stays abroad without the hefty price tag. Enter home swapping, a trend gaining momentum as remote work becomes the norm. Platforms like Twin City and Kindred offer innovative solutions, connecting travelers with like-minded individuals for mutual home exchanges. Gen Z, ever the trendsetters, are spearheading this movement on social media platforms like TikTok, using hashtags like #houseswap and #homeswap to showcase their adventures.

  WGM Ideas: What are you doing to partner with AirB2B, VRBO, Twin City and Kindred in your area? Are there “honorary” local programs you can try to these transient “residents”? How can you bring your wine into their new “home”?

Peak Season Takes a Back Seat

  The traditional peak season for travel is experiencing a shift, with travelers increasingly opting for shoulder season adventures. Luxury travel specialists report a surge in bookings for off-peak periods, citing factors like economic concerns and a desire for authentic, less crowded experiences. With flexible working arrangements on the rise, travelers are seizing the opportunity to explore popular destinations during quieter times, avoiding the crowds and high prices associated with peak season.

  WGM Ideas: Can we take a page from hotels and offer special experiences mid-week or in shoulder or hot months? Research tells us when we have the time to spend with guests, their Average Order Value goes up, so what does time allow you to offer in these slower times to make their experience extra-special and create more memories and sales?

Private Group Travel: The Ultimate Bonding Experience

  The desire to share travel experiences with friends and family is driving the rise of private group travel. From multi-generational family trips to reunions with lifelong friends, travelers are seeking meaningful connections through shared adventures. Companies like Black Tomato are catering to this demand with tailored itineraries designed to create lasting memories. Whether it’s a backcountry feast in the Grand Canyon or a rafting expedition in Peru, these experiences offer a unique way to bond with loved ones while exploring the world.

  WGM Ideas: Some of you won’t like this, but the question of what to do with kids will move from an infrequent grumble to a persistent roar as Millennials move into their 40s and want to vacation as their whole selves – teenagers, dogs and all. Even if kids aren’t an issues, large groups can sometimes become boisterous and overwhelm the ambiance. What can you do to accommodate lively group visits while keeping a luxury solemn experience for others? Can you open up one patio to only one or the other? Can you offer different time slots? The time is here where simple saying “no” to groups will mark you as inhospitable and in the minority. Best to plan ahead now and be prepared as this trend grows.

Skip-Gen Travel: Bridging Generational Divides

  Skip-gen travel, where grandparents vacation with their grandchildren, is on the rise. As families seek to strengthen bonds across generations, travel agencies are creating specialized itineraries to cater to this demand. From safari adventures to cultural immersions, these trips offer opportunities for meaningful connections and shared experiences. With an increasing number of grandparents eager to explore the world with their grandchildren, skip-gen travel is poised to become a lasting trend in the travel industry.

  WGM Ideas:  So, a 10-year-old, a 34-year-old and a 66-year-old walk into a bar…  It’s not a joke. If you’ve been smart you’ve already started to think about bifurcating your experiences and marketing to appeal to younger and older audiences so this trend should fit right into your plans. If you haven’t been smart, now is the time to rectify that. Before tourist season gets into full swing, we highly recommend creating different experiences targeted to seniors and … can we say juniors? Anyway, you get the point. Think about the comfort/height of seats down to different interest levels and non-alcoholic options. The more prepared you are the happier the guests and the more the sales.

Silent Travel: Finding Serenity in Silence

  In a world filled with noise and distraction, silent travel offers a sanctuary for weary souls. From silent meditation retreats to secluded nature resorts, travelers are seeking opportunities to disconnect and recharge. As awareness of the benefits of silence grows, so too does the demand for silent travel experiences. Whether it’s trekking the Japanese Kumano Kodo trail or exploring Finland’s Arctic landscape, these journeys offer a chance to find peace amidst the chaos of modern life.

  WGM Ideas: We know you’re going to get frustrated and say we just told you to allow kids to crawl all over your tasting room but curb the eye roll for a moment. We bet there is somewhere on your property to offer some serenity. Is there a corner, or bench or tree or trail through the vineyards you can clear off and feature as a private quiet area? Could you offer a different kind of experience that is the opposite of a guided tasting? It would be interesting to test to see if people just want to be alone. What about recording a short but insightful self-guided tour? Or something about the rabbits and owl boxes and vines they can scan with a QR code on an expertly placed sign? Just brainstorming but it’s interesting to think about and wouldn’t be hard to try.

Back-of-House Tours: A Glimpse Behind the Curtain

  As travelers become more conscious of their environmental footprint, they’re seeking experiences that prioritize sustainability and community engagement. Back-of-house tours offer a unique opportunity to see firsthand the efforts hotels are making to reduce their impact on the environment. From community outreach programs to eco-friendly initiatives, these tours provide insights into the social and environmental responsibility of hospitality businesses.

  WGM Ideas: The idea of “winery tour + sustainability discussion” intrigued us. For those of you who have gardens or do crazy magical things with cow horns – people will want a tour on that! THAT is different and something to build on. If you’re not focused quite so much about the cycles of the moon, you can still talk about running an agro-tourism business and how you fit into your particular ecosystem; what accommodations you make for wild animals, how you use sheep, or what you do to manage cover crop. Anything in the realm of working in harmony with mother earth is a trend right now that any winery can lean into.

Wild Feasting: Dining in Nature’s Embrace

  There’s something inherently special about dining al fresco, surrounded by nature’s beauty. Wild feasting takes this concept to the next level, offering curated culinary experiences in natural settings. From foraged ingredients to open-fire cooking, these experiences celebrate the connection between food and the great outdoors. As urbanites seek opportunities to reconnect with nature, wild feasting offers a chance to slow down, savor the moment, and truly appreciate the bounty of the earth.

  WGM Idea: Try to get as close to origin as possible. For those of you who have food programs, ditch the pre-packaged store-bought cheese and partner with a cheese monger.  Take a stab at drying your own jerky, salting your own nuts, or featuring local honey. Make the connections with food purveyors and see where the partnerships take you. Your customers will, literally, eat it up.

Astronomy Tourism: Seeking Solace in the Stars

  As society yearns for genuine connections with the natural world, gazing at the stars offers a sense of wonder and perspective unlike any other experience. Astronomy tourism, the practice of traveling to remote locations to observe celestial phenomena, is on the rise. Wellness-focused hotels and resorts are embracing astronomy tourism, providing guests with opportunities to marvel at the cosmos.

  Which is good because 2024 is shaping up to be an astronomical extravaganza, with celestial events galore. From total solar eclipses to dazzling meteor showers, the year promises unforgettable sights for stargazers. Scientists are even predicting the best displays of the Northern Lights in two decades, as we approach the next solar maximum.

  WGM Ideas: It would have been great if you were in the eclipse path this April, but since we can’t count on those every day, what can you do at night? Consider a club event after dinner with smores and a fire pit and guest astrologer. The goal is to get out of the cities and gain some perspective – and wine country fits the bill.

  Google searches will yield you a multitude of other tourism trends, but these were the ones we felt leaned into the winery vibe. We hope there are couple that intrigue to you brainstorm some options to try at your winery.

  And, best of luck this year in providing those Instagram-able moment because one thing is for certain; whether it’s savoring the silence of a remote getaway or indulging in wild delights, it’s clear we’re in pursuit of memories of moments that linger long after the suitcase is unpacked.

  Susan DeMatei founded WineGlass Marketing; the largest full-service, award-winning marketing firm focused on the wine industry. She is a certified Sommelier and Specialist in Wine, with degrees in Viticulture and Communications, an instructor at Napa Valley Community College, and is currently collaborating on two textbooks. Now in its 12th year, her agency offers domestic and international wineries assistance with all areas of strategy and execution. 

WineGlass Marketing is located in Napa, California, and can be reached at 707-927-3334 or

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