Europe’s Experience Economy Set to Spring Forward

Europe’s experience economy set to spring forward

March 26, 2024 | WATERLOO, BELGIUM

Prioritising Moments That Matter:  Nine in ten people set to spend the same or more on experiences in 2024 vs 2023, according to new Mastercard research1.

In a year when multiple global sporting events, music artist tours and international film festivals are set to take place in Europe, Mastercard is releasing new research that deep dives into what is driving people to prioritise spend on experiences in this global hub for tourism. 

Regularly topping the charts as the region with the highest number of international tourist arrivals worldwide, Europe attracted a whopping 700 million tourists in 20232.  And according to the new Mastercard survey of over 16,000 consumers, this year Europeans and international visitors alike are set to prioritise spend on experiences, with almost 9 in 10 people (88%) saying they plan to spend the same, or more, on experiences in 2024, compared to 2023.   

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing & communications officer, Mastercard says: “It’s no wonder that Europeans are prioritizing experiences like never before. The region is home to a vibrant cultural heritage, unparalleled sports and music events and incredible venues that makes it an ideal backdrop to memories that last a lifetime.  

Our goal with Priceless is to connect people to their passions, their purpose and each other – every day, everywhere. This research helps to inform what people are prioritizing in 2024 and beyond, and how we can best bring joy to their lives. Today, we offer countless Priceless Experiences across 30+ destinations globally. As we gear up to a big summer for Europe, this will include access to some of the world’s most exciting experiences, including The UEFA Champions League Final, The Cannes Film Festival, The Open Championship, hundreds of Live Nation concerts, and many more.” 

The trend towards prioritising spend on experiences over ‘things’ is one that is supported by data from the Mastercard Economic Institute, which reveals that the share of spending on experiences such as travel or dining out across Europe increased in 2023 to 22% of total spending, from 19% in 2019. In comparison, the share of spend on material goods remained stable.  

Natalia Lechmanova, chief economist, Europe, at Mastercard Economics Institute, comments: “Consumers have undoubtedly faced challenging choices in prioritising their spending over the past few years. Despite this, the desire for meaningful experiences remains resilient. As headwinds from high inflation and high interest rates gradually recede, consumers are likely to deploy their stronger purchasing power on discretionary spending. Excitement driven by prominent events such as global sporting competitions, music artist tours, and international film festivals coming to Europe this year will likely keep the spend on experiences high.”  

The survey reveals that the top experiences that people are most looking forward to this year are travel related, followed by live music events, outdoor experiences, culinary trips and wellness escapes3.  

When it comes to why this prioritisation of spending on experiences is happening, the ‘intangible’ benefit it brings is cited as a key driver. Nearly 4 in 5 (78%) said spending on experiences is usually, or always, worth it, in stark contrast to the 4% who find it rarely or never worth the investment and 29% of consumers specifically prioritise saving for experiences in their overall financial budgeting.  

40% of respondents said experiences provide them with their best memories, with over a third (35%) stating that having experiences helped them see the world in a new light, and 33% saying they find shared experiences with others deeply enriching, whether that’s exploring a new destination, attending a cultural event, or simply enjoying a meal together. Over 4 in 10 (41%) said that how ‘one of a kind’ an experience is would be a determining factor in whether to spend on an experience, highlighting their ambition to make lifelong memories.  

And this desire to enjoy new experiences is fuelling travel, with 26% of people saying this is the primary reason they travel and over 4 in 10 (41%) saying they’d travel to another country, or continent, just to enjoy an experience they’re passionate about.  

Mastercard is a longstanding partner to dozens of Europe’s most renowned entertainment and sports institutions. This year’s lineup includes, among many others, the UEFA Champions League Final, Roland-Garros, Festival de Cannes, The Berlinale  and League of Legends Esports, as well as hundreds of Live Nation concerts across multiple European markets.   

[1] Mastercard surveyed 16,141 consumers across 20 countries in Europe, plus four other markets such as the USA and China, to  unpack key trends shaping the European ‘Experience Economy’ in 2024. See ‘Methodology’ for further info.

[2] UNWTO World Tourism Barometer

[3] Question: Which of the following would you be keen to try more of in 2024? Answer: Travel and tourism (60%); Food-related experiences (35%); Outdoor experiences (35%), Live music events (35%), Wellness and Health-related experiences (34%), Family-oriented experiences such as amusement parks (33%), Film-related experiences (29%), Theatre performances (26%), Art-related experiences (25%), Historical or Heritage experiences (25%).

Media Contacts

Sara Hart, Mastercard
Sophie Bournhonesque, Mastercard


Mastercard conducted a survey with its research partner Vitreous Worldwide, to understand the shift in consumer preferences towards prioritizing experiences. The fieldwork took place from the 2nd – 9th January 2024. 

The survey sampled 16,141 respondents, including 14,125 respondents from 20 markets across Europe (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, UK, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland) and 2,016 respondents in Australia, Brazil, China and USA.  

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.  

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