Travel Insights: Gen Z and How They Are Changing Travel 

November 29, 2022  |  Victoria Simmons

Travel & Tourism

The New Culture Makers Rethink Travel

In this month’s issue we focus on understanding how Gen Z’s cultural values are already reshaping travel products and experiences. This emerging generation, spanning students to young professionals, is currently 60.4 million members strong with a notable $473 billion in spending power, according to Kantar U.S. Monitor. What will this generation, categorized as digital natives, demand of travel suppliers and destination organizations over the next several years?

On the surface, the answer seems simple – authenticity, connection, inclusion, and a promise to act responsibly both civically and environmentally. However, these cultural cravings are different from those seen with prior generations, posing opportunities and challenges during this transformative period. Travel brands should be focused on the value they deliver to these emerging consumers, rethinking volume or mass production in favor of personalization. More than ever, a brand’s business operations must be in full alignment with their values when they address marketing and work ethic issues.

The diversity of this group goes beyond age as they make up one of the most racially and ethnically diverse generational cohorts. Only 53% of Gen Z are non-Hispanic white, the lowest of any generation according to Kantar U.S. Monitor. The generation’s heterogeneity inspires their innate value of inclusion and informs their perceptions of organizations. Many will only work for and buy from brands that contribute to a more inclusive world. Progress is measured through collective achievement, not only individual gain. As companies scramble to showcase diversity in advertising, these young adults are only a Google search away from investigating whether a brand’s words and actions are aligned. Travel brands will not only need to continue to diversify their representation in advertising but ensure their destination and organization have inclusive experiences to match.

One of the most unique aspects of this audience is how drawn they are to the imperfect and authentic when it comes to visual expressions, advertising and experiences. Travel brands will be challenged to break out of the industry norms of idealized framing in favor of showing and offering what is real and raw to appeal to this generation’s expectations. That’s fundamentally different and somewhat counter-intuitive for marketers who historically have tight reigns on brand standards when it comes to creative expression. According to The Drum, 22% of Gen Z have unfollowed people who post overly filtered images. Consider Gen Z’s preferred aesthetic which stands in stark contrast to the polished and professional.

This trend alone stands to have a huge impact on when, where and how marketers choose to engage with this digitally savvy, connected and somewhat skeptical audience. Learning to be transparent, both in good times and bad, is the key to gaining this group’s trust.

For more on Gen Z’s attitude toward connection, novelty and purpose, download a copy of the insight deck where we outline five foundational shifts of Gen Z travel, and how they’re creating opportunity for travel brands. If you’re interested in understanding how these cultural shifts might apply to your brand please reach out for a conversation at [email protected].

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is Senior VP, Travel at BVK

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