Asian woman holding plane ticket and phone.

SINGAPORE: At the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2024 (ATF) in Laos last Jan 26, Omri Morgenshtern, the CEO of the digital travel platform Agoda, hinted that “2024 could be a great year for travel,” PR Newswire reports.

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,” Morgenshtern said.

Riding on the high from 2023, which witnessed significant year-on-year growth in Asia, Morgenshtern is optimistic about the travel industry’s prospects for the current year. Buoyed by these positive trends, Morgenshtern predicts five 2024 travel trends:

1. More relaxed visa requirements

Omri Morgenshtern, CEO of Agoda, predicts a surge in visa-free travel. Recent trends show an easing of visa restrictions in popular destinations, boosting inbound traffic.

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Malaysia tested the waters at the beginning of December, resulting in a four-fold spike in searches from India and China compared to the previous month.

He predicts “Indian travellers enjoying visa-free access to destinations like Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia,” and will lead to other markets following suit.

2. Simpler travel bookings

Morgenshtern anticipates a stronger focus on connected travel bookings as providers seek to simplify the travel experience.

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,” he said.

3. More AI help

Agoda’s embrace of GenAI has enhanced efficiency, and Morgenshtern sees “GenAI will continue to be the biggest opportunity for business.”

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He shared that the company’s efforts to empower their employees with AI have paid off, stating, “engineers significantly increased their efficiency.”

4. Rise of B2B loyalty programs

B2B loyalty programs will be “driving the growth” of the travel industry in 2024. 

According to a Mastercard study, 69% of travellers are interested in earning rewards for wellness behaviours, and two-thirds are eager to earn rewards for sustainable practices.

5. Fintech reshapes the travel industry

The intersection of fintech and travel will reshape financial management in the travel industry.

Fintech has provided “more seamless payments for travellers, especially in cross-border travel interaction with domestic payment options and the proliferation of QR payments.”

“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 added.

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He notes, “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,” he concluded. /TISG

Read related: Singapore tourist arrivals doubled in 2023, surging to 13.6 million