Inside the Mind of the Gen Z Traveler

by Davide Montali + Luke Bujarski + Skift Team
Digital Media

Skift Research Take

Much of the discussion about travel and generational divides has focused on distinctions between the Millennial generation and more mature travel cohorts. Yet, in the incessant paddle toward bluer oceans, travel marketers are now starting to look further down the horizon to align brands and product offerings with those who have just begun to explore the world through travel.

Executive Summary

In this report we look at the latest and perhaps most enigmatic generation of traveler: the “Digital Natives” or those born into a world of social networks, digital platforms, and mobile computing. Much of the discussion about travel and generational divides has focused on distinctions between the Millennial generation and more mature travel cohorts. Yet, in the incessant paddle toward bluer oceans, travel marketers are now starting to look further down the horizon to align brands and product offerings with those who have just begun to explore the world through travel.

Here, we examine a divide between Generation Y and Generation Z, to understand whether and why travel marketers should make these distinctions, what makes these two groups distinct, how they use technology differently, and how they interact with technology while traveling. Conclusions are based in part on Skift’s U.S. Traveler In-Destination Survey 2016, a comprehensive consumer study fielded to 1,200 U.S. travelers participating in a leisure trip at the time of the survey.

With the primary data collected for this report, we compare Digital Natives’ travel habits to those of other generations and highlight key findings. We look at usage of mobile technologies and travel apps, and we look at travel profiles and the types of traveler personas with whom Digital Native travelers most associate. With these insights we delve into new marketing channels and look at what type of advertising companies offer, how to target these younger demographics, and how to engage them through social media.

We also take a brief look at young Chinese travelers and their share of Chinese outbound tourism. We determine whether or not Chinese Digital Natives’ expectations are similar to those of their western counterparts, and which types of channels they use to research travel-related products. We discuss the findings and highlight the key differences that need to be addressed to target the young Chinese traveler.

Ultimately, we sum up the key takeaways from the report, highlighting the expectations the industry should have from this upcoming generation as well as the key points that need to be addressed by companies attempting to target them and make use of new marketing channels.

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