Gen Z and Travel – Here’s what you need to know

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Are you finally getting to grips with what the millennials want from their travel company? We’ve got news for you: it’s time to shift your focus to Gen Z.

Gen Z is hot on the heels of the millennial generation and they are already making their mark on the travel industry. According to those in the know, Gen Z is set to account for 40% of travellers with disposable income by 2020.

What’s more: Meltwater reports Gen Z was mentioned globally more than 2400 times in the press between 10th-17th January 2018. In comparison, two years ago (10th-17th January 2016), Gen Z was only mentioned in 174 articles.

In short: it’s about time travel brands started taking note of Gen Z.

Who is Generation Z?

Most agree the Gen Z title should go to anyone born after 1996 and before 2011. To make it more concrete: this means that the oldest Gen Z’ers are 22 years old and entering the workforce.

Is Gen Z already travelling?  

Taking into consideration that the oldest Gen Z’ers are between 18 and 22; the answer is an unequivocal yes.

Expedia Media Solutions recently polled 1001 U.S. travellers who booked a trip online in the last year on their behaviour and preferences. Results show that millennials (ages 24 to 35) travel the most, 35 days each year, but were followed closely by Generation Z travellers (ages 18 to 23), who travel 29 days each year.

Even the younger Gen Z’ers have an impact on travel decisions, however. In the 2015 MMGY Global “Portrait of American Travelers” study, 70% of families reported that their children have a say in planning.

“Kids now have more access to info, have more chances to know about the world and are more likely to ask to go to a particular place or to see something special,” said Steve Cohen, vice president of insights for MMGY Global.

Tech Savvy is an understatement

Gen Z was born and raised in a smartphone culture and it is estimated that 96% of Gen Z owns a smartphone today. This generation spends a whopping 10.6 hours engaging with online content every single day, according to research conducted by Adobe.

A study conducted by the Centre for Generational Kinetics in the US found that individuals in Gen Z are 4 times more likely than millennials to believe that age 13 is the appropriate age for a first smartphone.

It goes without saying therefore that any content travel companies produce should be mobile-friendly.

What are their favourite social media channels?

The jury is still out on what the favourite channels are for this generation. However, the general consensus seems to be that Facebook is on the way out and is making place for other channels such as Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube.

Social media is the be-all and end-all for this generation. Eighty-five percent of Gen Z uses social media to learn about new products, according to results from a Bluecore study.

Video is a non-negotiable

If you’re still hesitating whether video is the way forward, consider that 32% of Generation Z today watches video online for one hour and the majority watches online video for at least two hours a day. 21% will view video for more than 3 hours. This is according to figures published by Adweek.


To top this all off: Multiplatform media company Awesomeness tells us that Gen Z watches 68 videos per day on at least five different platforms. The main reasons why they watch so many videos are: to laugh (45%), to relieve stress (43%), to pass time (40%), because they are bored (40%) and because it makes them feel happier (38%).

A new type of influencer marketing

A study by Google further shows that 70% of teen YouTube subscribers see their favourite YouTube influencers as more relatable than traditional celebrities. Social influencer marketing is therefore the perfect opportunity for travel brands to reach generation Z.

Advertising on YouTube doesn’t come cheap, however. According to a study that was run in part by Google, branded YouTube videos that integrate a sponsor’s product or destination in some way can go for as much as $187,500 per post.

One of the most popular YouTube travel vloggers today is FunforLouis, is an English film-maker and YouTube personality from Epsom, Surrey. He has a following of over 1.9 million and posts a daily video about his life and travels all over the globe.

Be authentic

Don’t be fooled by thinking Gen Z is simply a younger version of the millennial. Gen Z is very different and has a very strong sense of purpose. They are also very good at detecting insincerity, according to research firm PSFK.

Brands need to establish a purpose-driven, permanent set of values and incorporate them into products, services and programming.

Do you really need to grab their attention in 8 seconds?

Research indeed shows that the average attention span of a Generation Z’er is 8 seconds vs 12 seconds for millennials. But, that doesn’t mean Gen Z is fickle or has the attention span of a gnat.

Gen Z is the first generation to face an information overload while studying. They have therefore learned to filter information and filter it quickly. So, keep your content interesting and authentic to grab their attention and make it through the first filtering process.

What does this all mean for travel agents and travel brands?  

Travel brands need to shift their focus from millennials and realise that Gen Z is a force to be reckoned with in travel.

Get on social media: forget just Facebook, but make sure you have a presence on Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram. Start thinking videos and photos, use influencer marketing and ensure your content is mobile-friendly. Travel brands might even consider showing destinations or properties from a teen’s perspective.

The possibilities are endless…