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Gen Zs are the most well-traveled group in history—and they’re seeing the world on their own terms.
If there’s one thing that unites individualistic Gen Zs under a single umbrella, it’s a passion for seeing the world. Nearly 99 percent of students surveyed by UNiDAYS x Ad Age said they like to travel. The travel bug bit most of them at a young age, with 79 percent of Gen Zs getting their first passport stamp before they could apply for their driver’s license. They might be the most well-traveled generation in history.
Despite racking up countless frequent flier miles throughout the year, Gen Z doesn’t just go places for the sake of going. They practice deeply intentional travel that lets them live like locals and see places on their own terms. The more travel marketers can understand the nuances of globe-trotting Gen Zs, the more they can effectively attract this growing consumer base.
More than three quarters of Gen Zs plan to take a trip this summer. Want to tap into their wanderlust? Here are three Gen Z travel trends marketers should keep in mind for the summer season.
When it comes to spreading the word about travel, marketers should prioritize social media above old-school outlets, like travel magazines. Social media influences trips for 84 percent of Gen Z travelers, especially when they see posts that feature destination photos, exclusive deals and videos from friends and experts. Sharing inspiring images of an activity, landmark or accommodations on Facebook or Instagram could be a major factor in whether a Gen Z traveler ends up including a particular brand in their itinerary.
Not only are they using social media to plan their travel, but Gen Zs also use online platforms to share their adventures abroad. In fact, 88 percent of students post on social media during their vacations. Businesses can encourage Gen Z travelers to spread the word by creating unique, photo-worthy set-ups. A quirky display in a hotel lobby, a latte with intricate foam art or a rooftop with a stunning cityscape backdrop makes Gen Zs want to share your business and get their friends and family to drop by on their next trip.
Appealing to Gen Z means embracing spontaneous travel. While Baby Boomers plan their trips up to 12 months out, Gen Zs wait until about three months before departure to make reservations. This summer in particular, more than half of travelers are opting to take frequent micro-vacations—getaways that last 1-3 days and require less planning—instead of longer trips. These trends reflect Gen Z’s desire to be spontaneous and allow trips to unfold in real time, rather than painstakingly planning every last detail.
Marketers should consider the young, impromptu traveler an asset. Come up with last-minute travel deals, such as a discount on a flight that leaves tomorrow, an upgrade on tonight’s hotel room or a bonus activity on a tour this afternoon, to win over Gen Z travelers.
Think Gen Zs want to party by the pool at an all-inclusive resort? Think again—nearly 1 in 3 Gen Z travelers say the number one thing they want from their next vacation is an adventure. In addition getting to a surge of adrenaline, Gen Zs also crave authentic, local experiences. This might mean choosing urban boutique hotels over mega-resorts, interactive cooking classes instead of sit-down meals at restaurants or perhaps creating something beautiful in an art workshop instead of picking up a souvenir at the airport. They want to see life as a local, not as a tourist.
Brands that come up with immersive travel experiences will go a long way to earning the loyalty of Gen Z. Promote activities that make travelers feel like they’re discovering something new—and learning about local culture along the way.
Not sure where to start? Try focusing on food. Around 35 percent of Gen Zs prioritize culinary experiences, and nearly all of them look up where to eat before taking a trip. Connect Gen Zs with unique foodie experiences that give them a sense of place, such as participating in a tea ceremony, foraging for fresh ingredients or shopping at farmers markets, and find ways to incorporate them into your offerings.
Gen Z travelers are eager to immerse themselves in exotic locales without planning too far ahead. Make it easy for them to envision including your brand on their next trip—whether it’s this weekend or later this summer—and you’ll have a head start on earning their loyalty for life.
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