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The Next Generation of Travel: How do Gen Zs Differ From Millennials?

Manon Campbell
Senior Director Solutions Engineering

Now that we have moved into a new decade, the millennials time in the spotlight, arguably, is drawing to an end as we begin to make way for an even more digitally driven cohort – Generation Z.

According to Bloomberg, these young, forward-thinking individuals, born between 1997 and 2012, now make up 32% of the entire world’s population. And as they enter the workplace, not only is their purchasing power increasing, so is their tendency to travel. Expedia has reported that the average Gen Z traveler is taking 2.8 vacations a year. For hoteliers, this means learning how to tap into a different target audience, understanding what type of experiences these individuals want and adapting your hotel’s strategy accordingly.

However, preparing for the next generation of travel may be more challenging than you think. From what we have uncovered, Gen Zs are quite different from millennials and could possibly be the most difficult generation to impress. 

Why is this?

They are all about the experience

Unlike millennials, also known as ‘the avocado on toast’ generation who are more willing to pay top dollar for a great hotel or restaurant, the Expedia Group has revealed that Gen Zs are more concerned with seeking unique activities and experiences. For instance, they are likely to stay in a hotel near a musical festival, Christmas market, landmark or cool hiking trail.

They expect innovation in technology

Gen Zs are the first generation that has never known a world without the internet and smartphones. They are true digital natives and understand how technology works and how it can enhance most aspects of everyday life. Unfortunately for hotels, this means that they are less likely to be impressed by technical features; they simply expect them. This doesn’t just mean great Wi-Fi, it means, artificial intelligence, VR, robots, online food ordering and payment, keyless room entry and smart televisions linked to their Netflix account.

They seek brands with a purpose

Millennials were one of the first generations to show an appreciation for ethical brands and sustainability. Gen Zs are taking this to the next level. With information on world issues never being more accessible, Gen Zs are keen for brands to show social responsibility and embrace cultural and ethnic diversity. A key finding in a recent Deloitte survey revealed that this cohort “would not hesitate to lessen or terminate relationships when they disagree with a companies’ business practices, values or political leanings.” This could be one of the factors that has lead Gen Zs to engage more with targeted and personal face-to-face experiences that demonstrate such commitment and become less motivated by discounts and perks, according to Michael Edwards, chief growth officer at travel company, Intrepid Group. For hoteliers, that means cultivating Gen Zs’ trust and loyalty could take more work.

They are Image-driven 

Images on social media are driving this generation to make purchasing decisions. According to a report released by Bloomberg, 48% of US Gen Zs said photos posted on social media inspire them to travel, with 29% feeling pressure to “post the perfect photo” while on their travels. Because of their familiarity with these platforms in their everyday life, Gen Zs feel comfortable engaging with brands on social media, especially on image-driven platforms. This is particularly true with Instagram and Snapchat, where users can browse videos and images that relate to potential experiences they could have on their travels.

Needless to say, Generation Z is a tricky group to please, but devising a strategy to cater to them is within reach. If you can determine how to provide more tangible experiences, tech-driven incentives, personal interactions and “Instagrammable” moments then you will be on your way to capturing your fair share of the Gen Z market.

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