Understanding different generations' travel preferences and traits is crucial when tailoring and selling your product or destination. Each generation has very different travel preferences and interests, and understanding these is essential to making good business decisions.

This blog highlights each generation's critical expectations when making travel decisions.

Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)

Most of this group, aged between 60 and 78 (May 2024), have already retired from the workforce or are close to retirement. Being of retirement age means they have few restrictions when juggling holidays and work. They have much more flexibility with when they can travel and for how long. Additionally, it is common for this generation to book a holiday to mark their retirement or milestone celebrations, spending more than usual.

They seek active, authentic, and luxury travel experiences. Their primary motivation for travelling is to spend more time with friends and family. They also prioritise relaxation, social interactions, physical exercise, health and well-being, nostalgia, and learning about different cultures and destinations.

While all generations now consider sustainability when travelling, baby boomers have more disposable income and are likely to spend more on sustainability-minded businesses and experiences.

This travel group likes to have all their travel organised and booked, so they rely heavily on specialist tour operators and travel agents. They will also check feedback and reviews on Trip Advisor and Facebook sites.

Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980)

Aged between 43 and 59 (May 2024), they are sometimes referred to as the ‘forgotten generation’ due to the limited research conducted on them, specifically on their travel habits.

Gen Xers are still of working age and may have children living at home, which restricts their ability to travel freely throughout the year. Therefore, they will likely travel for short periods and go to destinations closer to home. They are more budget-conscious than other generations and seek experiences that offer good value for money.

This travel group has experienced great technological evolution throughout their lifetimes. They are generally tech-savvy and keep up to date with technological changes. Therefore, unlike Baby Boomers, they are likely to research and book different aspects, relying less on travel agents and tour operators.

They will refer to OTAs and review sites when booking their experiences, including Trip Advisor.

Gen Y/Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996)

This travel group, aged between 28 and 43 (May 2024), accounts for a significant share of all tourism industry expenditures. They prioritise travel over material goods and will likely spend money on unforgettable experiences.

Whilst this generation has common traits, it is essential to note that it is a heterogeneous group that includes young professionals and new parents. They are sustainability-oriented, seeking unique off-the-beaten-track destinations to help them tick off their bucket lists. Overall, they will avoid overly touristy destinations and tourism products that feel staged for tourists.

This travel group is incredibly tech savvy, being the first generation raised with access to the internet. They will all have access to a smartphone and computer, and almost 75% of this group will undertake online research before booking their holidays. They will use social media to inspire and seek genuine, authentic content.

They will look for businesses who have easy to use websites, alongside relying on OTAs and tour operators to book holidays.

Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012)

Currently aged between 12 and 27 (May 2024), only the older half of this generation will make their own decisions around travel. Those who do prioritise travel more than any other generation; it is estimated that they spend 50% of their disposable income on travel.

This travel group consists of gap year travellers, university students, and young professionals. Their budgets are generally lower than those of other generations, so they always look for a good deal. Additionally, they are sustainability-minded and seek authentic and off-the-beaten-track experiences that allow them to immerse themselves in different cultures.

They are incredibly tech-savvy and robust social media users, where they get most of their travel inspiration. They trust feedback from influencers, friends, and family on social media. They tend to book everything separately, directly or through OTAs and will prioritise businesses with easy booking systems and a strong online presence.

At Acorn Tourism Consulting, we undertake in-depth research on different target groups. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss this in more detail.

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