With vaccination rates increasing while COVID19 infection rates lower and travel restrictions are reduced, the travel industry is eyeing a resurgence. As more countries reopen their economies to foreign travelers, there has been an uptick in travel and future bookings. Could Gen Z travelers be the secret to tourism’s return to form?
In the past, organizations in the hospitality and travel industries were intent on figuring out the needs and wants of specific generations, especially millennials.
As millennials (those born from 1980 to 1996) grew older and became more established in their careers, their spending power increased. Now, though, they’re reaching a point where that spendable income needs to be balanced with the costs of raising a family, investing, and paying mortgages.
The young adult status of millennials is now being eclipsed by Gen Z. This new generation is the first to be fully raised on the internet, and as they come of age, how they choose to travel will help to determine the future of the travel and hospitality industry post-pandemic.
Travel brands need to discover and understand their behavioral patterns to sell their services to Generation Z travelers.
Gen Z is one of the most significant demographic segments today, with almost 50% of Gen Z travelers consider traveling a priority. So let’s take a closer look at Gen Z travelers, understand who they are, their interests, how they travel, and how they use social media to learn about destinations.
Definition of Gen Z Travelers
Gen Z refers to anyone born from 1997 to 2012. The oldest of the Gen Z generation are currently turning 25, although most people in this demographic are still teenagers. The Gen Z generation is the youngest, largest, and most ethnically diverse.
They are the first digitally native generation, being born into a world where desktop computers and cell phones were becoming widespread. Many became teenagers when social media was already developed.
The most current research shows that this generation is making the largest share of the U.S consumer population. The population of Gen Z travelers is 2 million more than that of millennials.
What are Gen Z Travelers Interested in?
Online Travel Agencies (OTA)
Owing to their loyalty programs and dynamic packages, Gen Z travelers prefer to make their bookings using online travel agencies (OTA). As a digitally native generation, it makes sense that Gen Z travelers more often than not turn to online resources to find trip inspiration and plan.
They are frequent mobile users, and their interests lie in digital content consumption, which they rely on to make plans and decisions. They tend to book air tickets, rent cars, and book hotels using online travel agencies.
Gen Z travelers are less likely to make their bookings using other online channels, including direct websites, retail travel agent websites, and metasearch.
They are less likely to use third-party services to make their travel arrangements since they are low-budget travelers who depend primarily on their parents.
The Future Of Tourism With Gen Z Travelers
Gen Z travelers are unique in their preferences and priorities. However, some of the values they look out for as they choose destinations and companies to book their trips are inclusion, diversity, and a growing awareness of sustainability.
Gen Z travelers are interested in these values, but they are also looking to visit places where the locals embrace inclusivity. According to Expedia, young travelers are more likely to engage in sustainable travel.
Consumer expectations in the industry are changing and growing, and it is essential to the younger travelers that they experience authenticity and consistency.
How Do They Travel?
Gen Z travelers seek more transformative, unique, and unforgettable experiences.
Time travel involves getting to know a destination by retracing the steps of the locals that lived in an area historically. Gen Z travelers are not only captivated by learning about history but by living it too.
There is a current trend on Airbnb where historic keywords like historic, era, WWI, among others, are trending with the homes being booked many times over. In addition, countries like Korea and Japan have become hotspots for time travelers.
Gen Z travelers are now more than ever open to the downsized lifestyle that allows them to travel more for less. More travelers are exploring destinations by car, taking road trips, and searching the internet for where they can find free parking. And others are opting for simple spaces like shepherd’s huts and tiny homes.
Nature Calls and Disconnect to Reconnect Travel
Gen Z travelers are highest ranking on the number of people who have made nature experiences bookings. That is because more travelers are now looking to interact with mother nature by going for animal or hiking experiences.
Other travelers opt to slow down during their travels to engage their inner selves and center their minds and spirits. As a result, there is a noteworthy trend in single guest and meditation experience bookings.
What Does Gen Z Prioritize While They Travel?
Proximity and Safety
A high percentage of Gen Z travelers prioritize international travel. They are searching for ways to enjoy unique experiences abroad, for example, going on a desert safari in Dubai or a bioluminescent bay boat tour in San Juan. Gen Z travelers are also opting for smaller getaways to prioritize safety.
One of the top priorities for Gen Z travelers is having unique experiences. As a result, they opt more for outdoor adventures and are willing to travel long distances to participate in something different.
Like the rest of the generations, Gen Z travelers prioritize budgeting as part of their planning for travel and are more reluctant about spending more during their trips. As a result, their entire budgets tend to fit in the extra amount millennials are willing to pay.
How Do They Use Social Media to Learn About Destinations?
More often than not, young travelers are unsure about destinations to go for a trip or getaway. However, the Gen Z cohort of travelers is fluent with apps and social media, making mobile shopping popular.
As such, Gen Z travelers are more likely than any other generation to seek the opinions of social media influencers when trying to learn about destinations. Gen Z travelers use social media to learn about destinations by following influencers with similar interests.
Friends’ experiences and advertisements also learn about appealing deals and images.
They are more accustomed to social media than the rest of the generations and enjoy a world where information is instantly shared through photos and videos on social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.