As new generations of travelers take the skies, the travel and hospitality industry continues to navigate the shifting travel landscape. These days, it is crucial to understand that travelers – especially those who belong to the younger generations – prefer more flexibility, freedom, and personalized experiences. To stay afloat, many airlines and hospitality companies have acknowledged the growing need for digital business services to accommodate the changing demands of travelers, recognizing that younger generations are utilizing all available travel options in order to control their travel experience as they opt for convenience, new travel destinations, and frictionless interactions.
Jason Smith, Executive Vice President of Global Client Solutions at Teleperformance, puts the spotlight on Gen Z and Millennial travelers and the recent trends surrounding travel. From the get-go, the importance of attaining unique travel experiences among younger travelers was explored. 50% of Gen Z and Millennials spend more than four hours a day on social media, and because of this, many travelers are influenced by the destinations presented to them on social media. According to Smith, Gen Z and Millennials are more focused on exclusive experiences and prefer looking for travel destinations that are off the beaten path, where content hasn’t been created previously.
Gen Z and Millennials: Independent Travelers who Value Personalized Experiences
Digitally savvy Gen Z and Millennials are empowered by technology – today, they have more tools at their disposal to plan their travel itinerary and experiences. Smith briefly elaborated on the differences between older generations and the younger generations, stating Gen Z and Millennials are more open to planning trips themselves and are more comfortable with the risks involved in doing so. Older generations tend to look to a travel agent to plan trips, leaning more towards end-to-end planning and coordination.
Digital channel preference and usage continue to grow over time. Younger generations continue to engage brands using chat, mobile apps, SMS, and self-service options. Smith pointed out how tailored experiences are sought after: Gen Z and Millennials look for more proactive interactions that recognize previous experiences, e.g., brands highlighting traveler needs and wants (“I know that you’ve flown with us before and prefer an aisle seat.”)
In terms of unique travel experiences and destinations, Smith shared that Latin America is heavily favored among Gen Z travelers in 2023, with Costa Rica on top of travelers’ lists. Social media once again plays a role – these destinations put them in a rainforest environment that “gets the clicks and the likes.”
Sustainability and corporate social responsibility also impact the travel plans of Gen Z and Millennial travelers. Smith noted younger generations prefer to engage with travel brands that align their values to environmentally friendly practices, those who aim to reduce their carbon footprint, and those who give back to their communities.