How Travel Brands Can Enhance Sober Travel Options

May 13, 2024

Travel is often synonymous with indulgence—as highlighted by the ample opportunities to consume alcohol at airports, on planes, in hotels or resorts, and, obviously, at your final destination. Increasingly, sober travel is becoming both a wellness trend AND a travel trend—even for those who might still drink, an important signal for brands. According to a 2023 report by Expedia, 40% of travelers are likely to book a booze-free trip this year. The reasons are numerous, from wanting to be present and truly experience and remember the journey they diligently planned and spent money on to maintaining safety in a foreign location or as a solo female traveler.  

This aligns with Leger’s recent study on the sober curious movement, in which 36% of our survey respondents said they do not drink alcohol, and 31% of drinkers plan to cut back in 2024 to spend their money on other things—potentially travel.  

Here are some ways your brand can capitalize specifically on the travel element of the sober curious movement.  

The “Plane” Truth of Sober Air Travel 

Certain airlines lead the way in offering NA beverages. In December 2023, Alaska Airlines began offering craft non-alcoholic beer in partnership with Best Day Brewing. JetBlue carries Athletic Brewing NA beer, and Emirates offers craft mocktails to first- or business-class passengers. Qantas offers mocktails in its Los Angeles Airport lounge. 

In a separate study we ran on Leger’s 360 Travel Community, we unearthed some interesting results related to drinking alcohol-free beverages on flights. Among leisure travelers (N=249) who have traveled by airplane in the past 12 months:

  • 29% said alcohol-free beverages (i.e., non-alcoholic beer, alcohol-free wine, pre-made mocktails, etc.) were available for free or purchase on the airplane 
  • 8% said they consumed alcohol-free beverages on the airplane 
  • 31% said they expect alcohol-free drinks to be on the airplane for their future leisure trips 

While the percentage of travelers who consumed alcohol-free beverages while flying was small, having alcohol-free beverages available for purchase could inspire even travelers who drink alcohol to try NA options, therefore reaching a wider audience.  In fact, our sober curious study found that 27% of those who purchase alcohol-free beverages do so because of availability—the fourth most cited reason.

“Resorting” to Alcohol-Free Measures 

Leisure travelers aren’t just increasingly seeking alcohol-free options when they travel—they also want them when they reach their destination. Our travel survey found that among leisure travelers who have traveled to a hotel/resort in the past 12 months: 

  • 32% said alcohol-free beverages (i.e., non-alcoholic beer, alcohol-free wine, pre-made mocktails, etc.) were available at the hotel/resort 
  • 12% said they consumed alcohol-free drinks at the hotel/resort 
  • 33% said they expect alcohol-free beverages to be available for future leisure trips to a hotel/resort

The tourism industry is following suit, as more alcohol-free options exist at travel locations and companies that provide sober trips. 

Hyatt offers the Zero Proof Zero Judgment program at its hotels across the US. The Wynn Las Vegas has an alcohol-free beverage menu, and the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui, Hawaii, now has a zero-proof mocktail menu. We Love Lucid is a UK-based sober travel company that emerged for travelers who aren’t in recovery but don’t want to drink. Hooked offers alcohol-free adventure travel. Bespoke travel company Safari Guru offers, you guessed it, sober safaris.  

While these examples are scattered across the country and world and have yet to become mainstream, they show that sober travel is gaining steam. The additional benefit for brands outside of food and beverage is that with less time and money spent on drinking alcohol, the more budget travelers have for other services, activities, and products. There are many things a traveler shouldn’t do while under the influence, such as swimming or operating a jet ski. With a clearer mind and a fuller wallet, these consumers might be more likely to splurge on something your brand has to offer.

Want to learn more about what’s happening with alcohol-free beverages?

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