Generation Z: Travel Trends

By Jim Leonard

Generation Z: Travel Trends

Generation Z is rapidly growing in importance to DMOs - and for good reason! They are poised to command nearly 40% of consumer spending in just a few short years, and their travel habits are clearly defined by the digital age they were born into. Here's what that means for your DMO.

Millennial travel habits have been the focus of market research for the past few years, with DMOs dedicating a great deal of time, energy and budget to influencing their travel decisions. And while Millennials remain one of the most travel-friendly target markets, emerging trends show that travelers ages 18 to 23 are growing in importance to DMOs. As part of Generation Z, they tend to be open-minded, bucket-list oriented and interested in ‘off the beaten path’ locations and one of a kind experiences.

Gen Z Travel Trends

Generation Z, the oldest of whom are in their twenties, are close to becoming the largest generation in the United States. It would be a mistake to regard them as non-influential because they are young. Studies show that even teenage Gen Z-ers are driving travel decisions via their parents and other family members and exert more influence than DMOs sometimes realize. Hot on the heels of millennial travelers, Gen Z-ers travel an average of 29 days per year and rely heavily on social media for travel planning and inspiration. This same study revealed that budget matters, as 93% of Gen Z travelers prioritize good deals when booking a trip. Relatively new to the workforce, travelers on the older end of the Gen Z spectrum are conscious of their hard-earned money and are willing to delay making decisions in favor of seeking out more cost-worthy alternatives. And when it comes to trip options, adventure is a big seller for these young travelers, who rank nightlife at the bottom of their list and traveling for relaxation somewhere in the middle. And with Gen Z poised to command nearly 40% of consumer spending in just a few short years, DMOs should evaluate their Marketing Action Plan and include this demographic as a target audience sooner rather than later. So how should your DMO go about reaching this generation of eager, budget-minded, adventure-seeking travelers? To answer this question, it’s important to understand their media consumption habits and tech preferences.

Gen Z Media Consumption

Generation Z is defined by the existence of the iPhone and instant access to information. Often referred to as digital natives, technology – and social media, specifically – are integral to who they are and how they navigate the world. When it comes to digital engagement, 79% of Gen Z-ers identify YouTube as their top social media platform of choice, with Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and Twitter following closely behind. Gen Z-ers typically watch up to 68 videos per day on YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram, with 52% saying that they are more likely to watch an entire video if it makes them laugh. 50% say they can’t live without YouTube, and influencer marketing tends to be very effective with this demographic. Why? Because they crave connections with people they consider to be real and authentic versus paid talent, and they are always aware that the next best thing is right around the corner. Another thing to note: smartphones reign supreme for Gen Z, with 78% percent favoring them over other screen types including laptops, tablets and TVs. Most Gen Z-ers have owned a smartphone since the age of 12 and are most comfortable using this technology to navigate the digital world. So, what does all this mean for your DMO?

  1. Amp up your social media presence. Generate organic content that is fun and engaging, partner with influencers, and buy up ad space on popular platforms like YouTube and Snapchat. And when it comes to video ads, keep them short and engaging. Gen Z will only give an ad 8 seconds to capture their attention before they continue scrolling.
  2. Mobile optimize your website. Gen Z expects easy access to information on the go. If your website is not mobile optimized, they will move on to the next destination on their list that offers them a user-friendly mobile experience to book their trip.
  3. Collaborate with stakeholders to pull together appealing travel packages. Keeping in mind that Gen Z is at once adventure-seeking and budget-conscious, work with your local stakeholders and attractions to offer travel deals that appeal to this demographic – like limited-time experiences for travelers who book with a specific hotel during a specific time (which, by the way, is a great way get heads in beds during shoulder seasons).

If Generation Z has not been on your radar, now is the time to add them to the list of desired target audiences on your Marketing Action Plan (MAP). Don’t have one? We can help! Take advantage of one of our free one-hour MAP development calls to help you formulate ideas to reach this coveted target market. To book an upcoming consultation, contact Susan Bryan.