The Difference Between Gen X and Millennial Travelers

Backroads has expanded its Family Breakaway program (aimed at Gen-Xers with kids in their 20s) to include more international destinations.
Backroads has expanded its Family Breakaway program (aimed at Gen-Xers with kids in their 20s) to include more international destinations.

Generation X is often called the “Lost Generation.” As travelers, they have been “lost” between the Baby Boomers — for whom, by and large, going to a travel agent to make vacation plans was a given — and Millennials, who scour social media for travel information, then seek out agents for even more advice. Gen-Xers’ coming of age overlapped the dawn of the Internet and with it the OTA, creating a new breed of do-it-yourself traveler.

According to MMGY Global’s 2015 Portrait of American Travelers, fewer than one in six Xers plan to use a traditional travel agent for at least one vacation during the next two years, which is only two-thirds as many as their Millennial counterparts. (FYI: Boomers, it seems, have taken a lead from Xers in this regard.)

Travel Agent spoke with several expert agents, most of whom are themselves Gen-Xers, to find out what makes these travelers tick — and how to sell to them.

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How the Gen-X Client Differs From the Millennial Traveler

Generation X clients have a lot in common with Millennials from the way they value an agent’s service to the emphasis they put on getting value for their travel dollar. The main difference, however, is that Xers have been working at their jobs much longer, so they may have more disposable income to spend on a vacation.

“Generation X clients are very value driven,” says Rene’ Fifik, and they are “at a point in their lives where they can travel a little nicer.”
“Generation X clients are very value driven,” says Rene’ Fifik, and they are “at a point in their lives where they can travel a little nicer.”

“Generation X clients are very value driven, like Millennials,” says Rene’ Fifik, owner of On Your Way With Rene’, an agency located just outside of Cleveland that specializes in family travel. “The main difference would be that the Gen-X client has been in the work force for a while compared to the Millennial client, who is most likely still paying off student loans. Gen-X clients are at a point in their lives where they can travel a little nicer.”

Heather Christopher of Classic Travel in Woodbridge, VA, argues that vacations are more important for Xers since free time is practically cut in half when you are a parent. “They are in the middle of their lives, so their decisions about travel are based on that,” says Christopher.

Stephen Scott: Xers want to do “what they couldn’t do when they were younger.”
 
Stephen Scott: Xers want to do “what they couldn’t do when they were younger.”

Nicki Squittieri of Chicago’s Legacy Travel says, “Financially, they don’t spend as much as Boomers, but the same as or more than a Millennial.” And the fact that the majority of Boomers are retired means they have a lot more free time to travel the world.

[Boomers] are looking at ‘bucket list’ items and have the time to do it,” she says. “They are more likely to book a world cruise on a luxury cruise line and visit multiple countries on a single sailing. Millennials are just finishing up school, starting families, etc. They can’t always afford, either financially or time away, to take the trip that they want, so they often settle for something a little closer to home and more affordable, like a family-friendly, all-inclusive in Mexico or the Caribbean.

“Generation X clients have done the typical college spring break trips, they have a couple of stamps in their passports and now want to do something different,” Squittieri adds. “If they stay at an all-inclusive, they want it to be a boutique property off the beaten path or something new that their friends haven’t heard of yet. They tend to be a little more adventurous and more experience-focused. They want to see a concert in a new country and have a culinary experience that they can’t have back home.”

Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for the rest of our Gen-X Travelers Special Report. 

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