How Gen Z Could Reshape the Travel Industry

Although the COVID-19 pandemic delayed their entry into the larger travel ecosystem, Gen Z—those born between 1997 and 2012—are making up for lost time by traveling enthusiastically and often. According to new research by Morning Consult, more than half of Gen Zers are already frequent travelers.

Despite their youth and comparatively low income, Gen Zers are traveling often. In fact, just over half of Gen Z adults (52 percent) took at least three leisure trips in the past year. That share is significantly larger than it is for higher-earning Gen Xers (41 percent) and Baby Boomers (35 percent), and it’s on par with Millennials (52 percent). Further, Morning Consult expect that as Gen Zers age and grow in spending power, they will likely outpace travel-happy Millennials.

That said, Gen Z simultaneously expressed a lower level of trust in the travel industry than other generations (which is reflective of a truth about Gen Z as a whole; they tend to exhibit lower levels of trust in all industries and institutions). Tip: To set a strong foundation with the travelers of tomorrow, brands (travel advisors and agencies) should focus on building trust with Gen Zers today.

Income also doesn’t appear to be stopping Gen Z from traveling. While earnings have typically separated travelers from non-travelers across other generations (Millennials who earn over $100,000 are 5 percentage points more likely to be frequent travelers than the general population; for Gen X and Baby Boomers, the gap is even larger at 7 points). For Gen Z, however, the difference is only 1 point. In fact, 61 percent of Gen Zers who took three or more leisure trips in the past year come from households earning less than $50,000 annually. What this suggests, according to Morning Consult, is that the youngest adult generation isn’t waiting until they have a certain amount of income or savings to see the world; they’re finding ways to fit it into their budgets now. To note: This group of travelers will leverage mass transportation, the sharing economy and other services that allow for inexpensive, accessible travel.

Gen Z travelers are also more diverse: Frequent Gen Z leisure travelers are 3 points more likely to be Black compared with the generation as a whole and casual travelers (those who take one to two leisure trips a year) are 8 points more likely to be Hispanic.

Travel motivators are also different for the generation. The top three for the general population—to relax, to escape or get away, and to spend time with family and/or friends—ranks lower in importance for Gen Z (although these three still top their lists). Motivators like experiencing adventure, improving their mental health, seeking out cultural experiences, and checking off a bucket-list destination, among others, all rank higher in importance among Gen Z than the general population. They’re also the only demographic that was more likely to say they would visit a destination they’ve never been to before revisiting a familiar location.

Along those lines, Gen Z adults were the most likely to say they planned to visit an international destination in the next 12 months (46 percent), followed closely by Millennials (43 percent). Boomers and Gen Xers were more likely than Millennials and Gen Zers to travel domestically. (That said, all groups are more likely to travel domestically than internationally in the next year).

In addition, 15 percent of Gen Z travelers said their next leisure trip will last longer than two weeks, a higher share than any other generation.

Insight: To connect with this audience, companies must craft products, services and messaging that reflect these expectations and facilitate travel opportunities for those who may have historically been excluded from the category.

Source: Morning Consult

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