Generation Z, or those individuals born after the years 1995–2000 (there’s no clear consensus, studies differ), are growing in influence and spending power, especially in the travel arena. Gen Z is slated to be the largest group of consumers worldwide by 2020. They already make up 32 percent of the global population, more than millennials.
But don’t think that Gen Z is anything like the Millennial Generation. No, millennials were raised by Boomers, whereas Gen Z was raised by Gen X. As such, millennials and members of Gen Z differ highly when it comes to what they want in a travel experience and what they’re willing to do to get it.
What does the rise of Gen Z mean for your travel experience? Here are the ways they’re changing things up.
1. The Experience.
For members of Gen Z, travel is all about the experience, not just the destination. Older generations of travelers can go to any old beach resort, lie in the sand and drink fruity cocktails for a week and then go home. It doesn’t matter where the beach resort is, just that it exists and that it’s somewhere other than home.
For Gen Z, that’s not enough. They want to go to a mixology class and learn to make the cocktail. The beach resort should offer events, spa treatments, tennis workshops and live music. They want to get off the property to explore the destination thoroughly.
For older generations, Gen Z’s influence can mean more travel options and possibly new ways of travel that they hadn’t considered previously.
It makes sense that Gen Z cares about the environment. Their entire lives, this population has been given information about global warming and eco-friendliness. As such, Gen Z brings their care for sustainability into their travel habits. They’re interested in eco-friendly trips, sustainable hotel practices and doing good in their destination’s community.
For older generations, this can mean that some of your favorite amenities might be going away. No more luxury bath products replenished each day in your guestroom, for example, as hotels switch to large, mounted bath products that can last through multiple guests stays.
Likewise, you might notice other changes in your hotel stays, such as no bottled water in guestrooms, and automatic light switches that turn off when no movement is sensed in a room for an extended period.
If you’re a member of an older generation that is in any way involved in selling to travelers, you’ll do good to note that social media is one of the main ways that Gen Z makes travel decisions. Influencers hold a huge sway. There’s no better marketing than an appealing photo on Instagram.
Many people want to be able to say that they were the first to travel to that destination.
4. Traveling Often.
If you’re a member of an older generation and you travel at all for work, you’ll definitely notice some changes with the way your younger, Gen Z coworkers are acting. Gen Z is the most willing generation when it comes to business travel, and they’re taking to the new “bleisure” trend with enthusiasm. If you’ve been in the dark, “bleisure” travel is often a business trip that’s extended so that the travel can enjoy some leisure time in a destination as well.
Unlike generations before them, members of Generation Z will jump at the chance to go on a trip for work. Some even indicate that they would switch jobs for a career that would allow them to travel for work even more.
This could mean good things for you if you want to pass on those pesky business trips to someone else in the company. But it could also mean bad things if your bosses start to value your younger colleagues more for their willingness to work on the road and their ability to do it well.
5. Technological Conveniences.
Gen Z’s affinity for technology definitely makes it easy for them to adapt to new and upcoming travel tech. If you currently struggle with your mobile boarding pass or troubleshooting a problem with a booking via Twitter DMs with a brand’s help desk, then you’d better learn fast. Gen Z is all about bookings via chat, virtual tours of destinations ahead of booking and other tech-savvy ways to make travel more convenient and easy.
The tech enhancements aren’t expected to end anytime soon.
6. Taking Advantage Of Financial Situations.
Of course, since many members of Gen Z are still fairly young, many are still traveling on their parents’ dime. Unfortunately for the parents, Gen Z tastes aren’t always budget-friendly. However, studies also show that Gen Z has become very involved in helping older generations — and not just parents, but grandparents, too — plan out their travel.
Since Generation Z is constantly taking in new travel information via tech and social media, they’re likely to be able to offer travel advice and tips that older generations might not have access to otherwise.