We’re all accustomed to hearing about how Millennials are reshaping the travel industry. The evolution of technology, rise of visual social media such as Instagram and Snapchat, along with the soaring popularity of Airbnb and the ‘sharing economy’, has ensured a lot of focus on this demographic – which has become the most studied generation in history. However, many of their preferences are quickly evolving, as Millennials shift to a different stage of life – which could include marriage, kids and partnerships etc. And, as with every generation, there’s another snapping at its heels, with new ideas set to break the mould. Enter Generation Z, born in the late nineties to the 2010s, and soon set to start off on their own adventurous trips. Worth a potential $283 billion in buying power for international tourism, this demographic operates with distinctly different tendencies.
So how will Generation Z shape the travel industry and how can brands speak directly to them to help solidify their loyalties for the long-term?
Focus on content NOT networks
Generation Z has learnt from the mistakes of older generations. Oversharing is not in vogue for this age group, with high value given to privacy and priority given to apps like Snapchat – where snaps disappear after a certain amount of time – and Whisper, which allows users to send messages anonymously and to receive replies. It’s not surprising that Generation Z has abandoned Facebook in droves, leaving the network to their parents to play with! This demographic spends more time looking for and curating their own content on social media, instead of endlessly networking online. Brands can get ahead of the game by offering Gen Z more opportunities to be creative – such as low budget airline WOW air did, by offering ‘SnapTravelers’ the chance to fly to Iceland and share the journey via Snapchat and other social media channels.
Be aware of short attention spans
Millennials have been criticised for their terrible attention span – but that’s nothing in comparison to Generation Z! Apparently, this demographic takes just eight seconds to process information – and then move onto the next thing that catches their eye. Travellers younger than 35 barely remember using travel agents – so it’s important to be aware of the digital journey younger generations will take every step of the way. Some 90 percent of Generation Z and Millennials book travel online, perhaps with an exception of more complicated trips. Brands can persuade Gen Z travellers to book a travel experience using an easy-to-access booking system, visual marketing and personalised recommendations from influencers and travellers. Generation Z will also respond well to powerful and inspiring snippets of content that can be consumed in seconds, emphasising the life-changing experiences on offer for travellers. Virtual and Augmented Reality will likely play a key part in this trend as this generation comes of age.
Before deciding on a destination, travellers will research online, looking for more than just general guides – which is where your brand can be ready to impress! Content must inform and enrich, and speak to your target demographic in an authentic way. This means that travellers want the truth about a destination, to gain a strong awareness of the cultural experience, food, and reality of a place. The most successful brands will portray destinations in a way that feels real, and moves away from staged photo shoots and towards influencer marketing, leveraging user generated content that captures true experiences and makes them relatable, yet also displays the beauty and luxurious aspects without being too salesy.
Young people can often be idealistic – and Gen Z is no different. Research from Upfront Analytics shows that 60 percent of Gen Zs want to change the world – in comparison to just 39 percent of Millennials. Volunteering abroad, searching for meaningful experiences and impactful travel, are becoming increasingly popular – a great chance to build on life experiences as well as CVs! Just like Millennials, Gen Z are likely to be time-rich and cash-poor. Brands can be mindful of their aims, by demonstrating how their destinations can help contribute to Gen Z’s life goals, using savvy marketing strategies offering opportunities to expand their horizons.
It’s clear that written guides and articles are still important, but there’s a growing focus on video among Gen Zs. This demographic watches double the amount of videos on mobile in comparison to other generations and spend two plus hours on YouTube, according to research. Travel companies and brands can benefit by responding to these trends – by telling stories effectively. For examples, some destinations are working to create 360-degree virtual reality videos to use in marketing to demonstrate to younger generations what’s in store at specific destinations. This trend is only likely to grow as Gen Z grows up!
Destinations, brands and travel marketers need to keep one eye on the current landscape while being mindful of the future. Strategies built around visual content, authenticity and convenience will help entice Generation Z to your brand. Investing now in the partnerships and tools – from content creation platforms to the analytics to know what’s working – is the foundation for a strong ROI when marketing to Millennials and Gen Z alike.