A study by Expedia Media Solutions has revealed insights into the motivations and mindsets of British, French and German travellers across the generations, spanning Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. You can download the full report here or scroll down for the highlights…

All under the age of 35, how do you tell the difference between Millennials, born in the eighties, and Generation Z, who were born after the mid nineties? A piece in The New York Times said: “If Hannah Horvath from ‘Girls’ is the typical millennial — self-involved, dependent, flailing financially in the real world as her expectations of a dream job and life collide with reality — then Alex Dunphy from ‘Modern Family’ represents the Gen Z antidote,” Ms. Greene said. “Alex is a true Gen Z: conscientious, hard-working, somewhat anxious and mindful of the future.”

Today, Gen Z makes up a quarter of the US population, and already contributes $44 billion to the American economy. By 2020, they will account for one-third of the US population, and will be the most powerful spenders.

However, they are also the generation that travel companies seem to understand the least, as their attention has been focused, obsessively, on Millennials for the past few years. (According to data from Google Trends, searches for the word “Millennial” didn’t take off until summer 2013, and dramatically peaking in November 2016.)

How do the generations compare when it comes to their relationship with travel – and which generation do you fit into?

Multi-generational travel trend highlights

Boomers (born between 1943 and 1960): Less budget-conscious and likely to spend more on hotels than other generations

  • Boomers take the longest trips (10.5 days on average)
  • 54 per cent said budget was a primary factor on their last trip
  • Boomers value informative content and helpful reviews, and are less likely than other generations to be influenced by deals in ads

Generation X (born early 1960s to late 1970s): Family-oriented travellers who use reviews and informative brand content during the planning process

  • 85 per cent read reviews of places they want to visit before making a decision
  • They rely heavily on online travel agents, travel review sites and search engines when planning a trip

Millennials (born early 1980s to early 1990s): Frequent, deal-driven travellers with a wide variety of interests – from wining and dining to exploring the outdoors

  • They take four or more trips per year but their trips are the shortest in duration, compared with other generations
  • 37 per cent said they are influenced by blogs or articles about travel destinations and 51 per cent used an online travel agent (OTA) to book their last trip

Generation Z (born 1995 to 2010): Open minded, mobile savvy and budget conscious travellers looking to cross off things on their bucket list

  • 63 per cent use their smartphones when they’re looking for travel inspiration
  • They take the same number of holidays a year as Gen X (2.5 a year on average)
  • When it comes to travel inspiration, it’s this generation that is most influenced by pictures posted by their friends on social media (Boomers are more influenced by experts)

A deep dive into travel trends across the generations

Boomers: Review readers, OTA aficionadosBaby BoomersWhile Boomers are more likely than other generations to know where they want to go and how they’re going to book when they decide to take a trip, they still seek help and inspiration during the planning and booking process.

Given that fewer Boomers said budget was a primary factor when planning their last trip, marketers looking to inspire and engage Boomers should focus on informative content like reviews and local activities in advertising, with less emphasis on deals.

  • At 10.5 days per vacation, Boomers take the longest trips, and only 54 per cent said budget was a primary factor on their last trip.
  • Only 46 per cent of Boomers said crossing things off their bucket list was imperative, 15 per cent less than Gen X travellers. Trip activities, cultural experiences and feeling pampered during their vacation topped the priority list for Boomers.
  • When planning their last trip, Boomers relied on OTAs more than any other resource (54 per cent) and 20 per cent used a destination site; half of boomers also booked their last trip using an OTA.
  • When it comes to advertising’s influence on the decision-making process, Boomers value informative content (49 per cent) and helpful reviews (31 per cent), and they are less likely than other generations to be influenced by deals in ads.
  • Computers are the preferred device during the pre-trip inspiration, planning and booking phases, but 26 per cent of Boomers used their tablet during their trip, more than any other generation, and 54 per cent used a smartphone.

Gen X: Family-oriented, affinity for outdoor activities 

Gen xGen X are family-oriented and more likely than other generations to use reviews and informative content from brands while researching and booking a trip.

While less Gen X travellers say that budget is a primary factor than younger generations, they still prioritise deals and look for value.

Feeling like they’re getting the most bang for their buck may be key to converting Gen X travellers, so marketers should consider highlighting value-driven messaging and informative reviews to influence this generation during the purchase journey.

  • Less than 30 per cent of Gen X have already decided on a destination when they decide to take a trip and 55 per cent said they need some help and inspiration when they start planning a trip.
  • Nearly 70 per cent of Gen X travellers said that every vacation is family-oriented and focused on keeping their family entertained and happy, while more than 65 per cent said they prefer to fill their itinerary with museums, historical sites, and arts and culture.
  • More than 60 per cent said budget was a primary factor on their last trip, but more so than other generations, they prioritised deals or special offers as important considerations when choosing a holiday. While less interested than other generations in a once in a lifetime experience, Gen X travellers are likely to prioritize outdoor activities.
  • 85 per cent read reviews of places they want to visit before making a decision, and 80 per cent said that informative content from brands or destinations can influence their decision-making process.
  • Gen X rely heavily on OTAs (51 per cent), travel review sites (41 per cent) and search engines (49 per cent) when planning a trip – and 52 per cent used an OTA to book their last trip.

Millennials: Frequent, deal-driven explorers

MillennialMillennials travel more frequently than other generations and while nearly 90 per cent say they look for the best deals, they have a broad range of interests, focusing on exploring the outdoors, cultural experiences, family play trips and romantic getaways.

Travel marketers can highlight local culture, experiences and cuisine, as well as discounts and deals, when targeting Millennials.

  • Millennials take more trips per year than other generations (4.3), but their trips are the shortest in duration – only 8.5 days on average.
  • Only 23 per cent of Millennials have a destination in mind when they decide to take a trip, and nearly 80 per cent said informative content from destinations or travel brands can influence their decision, while 37 per cent said they are influenced by blogs or articles about travel destinations.
  • Millennials are most likely to opt for “off the beaten path” locations or recommendations from locals (69 per cent), as well as all-inclusive resorts and cruises (59 per cent).
  • Nearly 50 per cent plan their travel around food and drink, showing their interests in a wide variety of travel experiences and destinations.
  • Prior to making a decision, nearly 80 per cent of Millennials said they look for a deal and 84 per cent read reviews, while more than 70 per cent said they talk to people who have visited the place before.
  • Search engines (51 per cent), online travel agencies (OTAs) (48 per cent) and travel review sites (38 per cent) were the top online planning resources for Millennials, while 51 per cent used an OTA to book their last trip.

Gen Z: Open-minded, mobile and influenced by advertising Generation ZAs one of the most budget-conscious generations in Europe, Gen Z is more likely to start the research and planning process without a set destination in mind, rely on their smartphones when looking for travel inspiration and have an all-or-nothing approach to travel activities.

They are influenced by deals and appealing imagery on social media and in advertising, so marketers looking to inspire and convert Gen Z travellers must implement a visually-compelling and integrated cross-device marketing strategy.

  • Nearly 80 per cent of Gen Z said either they don’t have a destination in mind or are deciding between two destinations when they first decide to take a trip.
  • Nearly 80 per cent said budget was a primary factor when researching and booking their last trip, and allocated more for flights than the other generations.
  • While 72 per cent said taking risks and crossing things off their bucket list is imperative, 60 per cent are interested in trips that offer naps on the beach and all-day relaxation.
  • Although activities and experiences are high on their priority list, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and destinations where they can take memorable pictures and vacation with friends are important considerations for Gen Z, significantly more so than other generations.
  • Compared with other generations, Gen Z use their smartphones more than other devices when they’re looking for travel inspiration (63 per cent) and while on their vacation (76 per cent).
  • More than half of Gen Z travellers (53 per cent) said advertisements with deals or appealing imagery can influence their decision-making process.

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