Corporate and leisure travel have bounced back in recent years post-pandemic. 2023 was the year of bucket list travel, with event planners focusing on high-ticket events and luxury add-ons, like first-class tickets, to attract conference-goers.

2024 is when travel trends are pivoting to reflect the growing focus on wellness, sustainability, and leaving a positive impact on the destination.

Event planners are increasingly turning to Houston as a meeting hub for corporate functions, private events, and luxury travel. Houston has over 51 million visitors annually and is a popular destination for conventions as a center for domestic and international business.

Here are a few of the 2024 travel trends every event planner should know when coordinating their corporate program and conference for this year and beyond.

Business travel rising in 2024 – but lower than pre-pandemic levels

Corporate travel has made a slow recovery since the pandemic, the ‘great resignation’, and the switch to remote working. The sector is nearing pre-pandemic performance and is expected to reach 95% of its 2019 levels by the end of the year. It’s a predicted 6% rise from 2023 but hindered by slow economic growth domestically.

Travel experts are setting their sights on 2026 as the year business travel returns to its pre-pandemic levels, but some markets like Houston are coming back more rapidly.

Houston airports saw 60 million travelers pass through their gates in 2023, an 11% increase from 2022, putting Houston at the forefront of the domestic travel recovery.

Astro tourism emerges as a new travel trend

'Astro tourism’ is an emerging travel trend, reflecting our growing curiosity about the universe and life beyond Earth. Travelers are planning itineraries to see astronomical phenomena and learn more about space exploration and the science involved.

Event planners looking to create attractive conference programs with extra-curricular activities should consider Houston. It’s home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center and its Mission Control Center. Space Center Houston is one of the city’s top tourist destinations for corporate and leisure travelers.

The sustainable travel boom

Business travelers and planners in 2024 are increasingly prioritizing eco-conscious choices. This shift is evident in how they approach both transportation and venue selection for meetings and conferences.

Venues: Setting the Sustainable Stage

As the demand for sustainable travel booms, event planners are mirroring this trend by prioritizing eco-friendly venues with strong sustainability practices. Luckily, Houston offers fantastic options like the George R. Brown Convention Center, a LEED Gold certified facility.

Transportation: Small Steps, Big Impact

Houston offers a robust public transportation system, METRORail, featuring a fleet of diesel-electric hybrid buses, making a traveler’s commute eco-friendly. Travelers who prefer a two-wheeled adventure can take advantage of METRORail's bike and ride option or explore the city with Houston BCycle rentals.

By incorporating these small changes, both meeting planners and attendees can ensure a successful and sustainable gathering in Houston.

Meetings + Conventions