The new normal: travel companies temper expectations for 2024

The new normal: travel companies temper expectations for 2024

/ 07:33 AM February 14, 2024

FILE PHOTO: A passenger is seen at the departure terminal three of Dubai Airports in Dubai

FILE PHOTO: A passenger is seen at the departure terminal three of Dubai Airports in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/ Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo

NEW YORK — The buzzword from travel companies for 2024 is “normal.”

After the pandemic slammed the brakes on the tourism industry, and the subsequent years were the era of “revenge travel,” hotel operators Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International and online travel agency Expedia expect demand to grow more slowly this year.


They, along with other travel companies, are forecasting full-year 2024 profits short of the consensus from Wall Street analysts. That has been a disappointment to investors, as people had been making more room in their spending budgets for vacations and hotel stays.


“We expect travel demand to remain relatively healthy, but we expect growth rates across the world to decelerate,” Expedia Chief Executive Officer Peter Kern told investors on a call.

READ: Revenge travel persists, PH visa applications up

Marriott told investors that it expects 2024 revenue per available room, a closely watched industry metric for hotels’ top-line performance, to increase between 3% and 5% this year, after nearly 15% growth in 2023.

Similarly, Hilton expects full-year room revenue to rise between 2% and 4% in 2024, down from a 12.6% increase in 2023.

“The rebound impact from the pandemic has waned,” Marriott’s CEO Anthony Capuano told investors on a call.

So far this year, Marriott and Hilton shares have risen 3.4% and 3.3%, respectively, after gains of 51.46% and 44.10% in 2023.


The U.S. hotel industry notched new records for the average daily room rate and revenue per available room, according to commercial real estate analytics firm CoStar, but that may not be repeated this year.

Average U.S. revenue per available room in 2023 was $97.97, up 4.9% from 2022. Average daily rates rose 4.3% to $155.62, according to CoStar.

READ: Road to resurgence of tourism sector in the Philippines

Despite expectations for travel costs to rise 3.5% year-over-year in 2024, travelers have an average of about 4.9 trips planned per person, a 2% rise above 2019 levels, according to a survey of over 500 U.S. travelers by Jefferies.

Short-term rental company Airbnb forecast first-quarter revenue above Wall Street estimates on Tuesday, as it expects a boost from strong cross-border travel.

However, the company expects the growth rate of nights booked in the quarter to moderate compared with the fourth quarter of 2023. Average daily rates for the quarter are expected to be flat or slightly up year-over-year, the company said.

One laggard for hospitality companies has been China, but the hotel giants were more optimistic about that country’s growth for the coming year as well as rebounding group and business travel.

“For the hotel industry, 2024 will be the first normal year we’ve seen since 2019,” said Patrick Scholes, Truist equity analyst. “The last market still needing to catch up is China.”

Hilton forecast 2024 adjusted profit between $6.80 and $6.94 per share, below the analyst consensus for $7.07, while Marriott’s range was $9.18 to $9.52 per share, versus expectations for $9.69 per share, LSEG data showed.

Airfares are also expected to soften, analysts said, as excess domestic capacity has weakened the pricing power of air carriers.

In January, domestic airfare averaged $273 per round-trip ticket, up 1.8% from 2023 but down 2.2% from 2019, according to data from travel booking app Hopper.

Expedia said it expects revenue growth in 2024 to be in the mid-single digits after a 10% increase in revenue in 2023, and it said pricing should be soft across several categories in 2024. The company’s gross air bookings were partially affected by lower average ticket prices and continued pressure on car rental rates.

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Investors will get another look at how the accommodations sector performed in the fourth quarter when vacation rental company Airbnb reports earnings after the bell on Tuesday.

TAGS: Tourism, Travel

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