Marketing to Millennial and Gen Z Travelers
Millennials travel more than any other generation, and as Gen Zers begin to graduate from college and branch out on their own, they’re following in millennials’ footsteps. The travel habits of these groups are changing the way we think and talk about travel experiences – and marketing to both of them should be a focus for almost anyone in the travel and tourism space.
Millennials (those born between 1981 – 1996) and Gen Z (those born between 1997 – 2012/2015) are similar in many ways — they both have a preference for unique experiences and use social media to find inspiration and share their travels. There are, however, some differences in what social platforms they gravitate toward and what types of marketing can inspire them to hit the book button.
How Millennials Plan and Book Travel
Like most of us, millennials travel for a variety of reasons such as enjoying relaxing experiences, bucket list activities, and enjoying time with family or loved ones. Unlike other groups (Expedia Media Solutions):
- Millennials spend an average of 35 days per year traveling
- 72% of millennials say ads can influence their decisions
These two things combine to show that millennials are likely to be receptive to your advertising efforts so make sure your messaging and promotions speak to them.
Weekend Trip Pros
Previous generations spent a lot of time meticulously planning vacations to big destinations, but millennials are much more likely to be spontaneous and take fun weekend trips on short notice. In fact (Condor):
- 49% of millennials regularly take last-minute trips
- 69% of millennials have taken more weekend trips than other generations
Marketing emails and social media posts promoting special weekend deals are especially effective for this group. They might just plan a spontaneous trip after seeing the great experiences you’re offering!
Lone Wolves or Pack Travel? Both!
Depending on their relationship status and family situation, millennials tend to book both solo travel and group trips. Solo travel is a trend that appeals to all generations, but
- 58% of millennials worldwide are willing to travel alone
What does this mean for your marketing efforts? Focus on promoting solo-suitable tours, offering convenient transportation options, and creating personalized content for the lone traveler.
When not traveling alone, millennial parents are commonly book trips with family and friend trips –
- 44% of millennial parents travel with their children
- Of these, 62% travel with kids under 5 years old
These travelers will be looking for family-friendly experiences that kids will enjoy, such as wildlife tours and interactive activities.
And who doesn’t love a good friend trip?
- 58% of millennials favor traveling with friends
This makes them the ideal audience for those willing to splurge on private group tours as well as those who want to take advtange of group discounts that will fit their travel budgets.
Authentic Local Experiences
One of the major ways in which millennials differ from previous generations is that they’re less interested in traditional tourist spots and more excited about unique local experiences. Millennial travelers are always on the lookout for adventures that allow them to connect with the local culture at their destination, learn new things, and even grow as people.
In one study (Condor) –
- 60% of millennials ranked authentic culture as the most important part of their travel experiences
- 78% of millennials said they want their trips to be educational
When marketing to millennials, it’s important to highlight how unique and authentic your experiences are – whether that means that your guides are from the area, your routes veer off the beaten path, or your tours showcase and contribute to small local businesses.
In addition to seeking local culture, this generation is also looking for immersive experiences, such as art festivals or culinary tastings. They want to enjoy their destination like the locals do, visiting the best-hidden gems and seeing the “real” side of the city.
Closely tied to this interest is a focus on sustainability and ecotourism. Millennial travelers are savvy about the impact of tourism on popular destinations, so they’re increasingly looking for tours and activities that have a low impact on the environment or make a conscious effort to offset that impact.
Social Media Influence
It should come as no surprise that social media has a huge influence on where millennials decide to travel. In the U.S. –
- Facebook is the preferred social media platform for millennials (Skift)
- 87% of travelers in this generation find travel inspiration on this platform (Condor)
Pro tip: If you’re planning a Facebook advertising campaign, millennials are the ideal audience to target.
Instant communication is important to this generation. Rather than trying to find a company’s contact information on their website and perhaps waiting days for a response, millennials prefer to message a company on Facebook and get a quick response. This could make all the difference when it comes to choosing which company they want to book with, so stay on top of your social media profiles and be available to your customers.
How Gen Zers Plan and Book Travel
Gen Z is on the brink of becoming the largest generation on the globe. After millennials, Gen Z is the next generation that spends the most time traveling, with an average of 29 travel days per year (Expedia Media Solutions) – and that percentage is likely to grow as their earing potential increases.
Many of the millennial travel trends apply to this group, such as a desire for authentic experiences and a focus on sustainability. Because this is still a young generation, it will take some time to discover their travel preferences, but what we do know is where they’re spending their time online and what entices them to book a trip.
According to a study by Expedia Media Solutions –
- 90% of Gen Z travelers say social media has an influence on their travel decisions
The most popular social media platforms among Gen Zers include Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, which are all highly visual (Skift). When considering their destinations, how the trip will look on their Instagram feeds is a huge deciding factor.
Gen Z travelers are more likely to book with a company that uses great photography to showcase their destination and tours. This makes bright colors, images of people having fun, and smart use of Instagram filters and other features a crucial part of marketing to this generation.
Take a look at some travel accounts that are great at this!
Pro tip: Don’t underestimate video — people who engage with your videos are 40% more likely to do business with you than those who don’t (Arival).
Gen Zers are natives to shopping (for both products and experiences) online, and they want to easily find all the information they need before deciding which experience they want to book. An immersive, informative video that makes them fall in love with your experiences could be the deciding factor.
Stick to the Budget
Budget matters to every generation. For Gen Z in particular, it’s one of the biggest deciding factors –
- 81% of Gen Zers say that budget is important when considering travel options
- 93% say they look for the best deals before booking
Flights make up a considerable allocation of their travel budget, so Gen Z travelers are likely to look for budget-friendly in-destination experiences. When marketing to this audience, especially on social media, be sure to promote your affordable options or special discounts.
If you’ve read any of our reputation management guides, you already know how important reviews are to the travel and tourism industry. In fact (Arival) –
- For every 1-point increase in reviews, companies can expect a 1.6-point increase in conversion rates
Gen Z travelers mainly use search engines and OTAs to book travel (Expedia Media Solutions), so you can be sure they’ll be reading customer reviews before making any decisions.
Rather than telling your customers what makes your company great, let positive reviews do the talking.
Pro tip: Start a user-generated content campaign where you ask your social media followers to submit a video of their experience with you to entice Gen Z travelers to book with you over the competition.
The Elephant in the Room: COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is the largest factor affecting all travel trends at the moment. While these statistics refer to travel in “normal” times, all generations currently share safety concerns and anxieties about returning to travel.
According to a GlobalData report, social media traffic significantly increased during the pandemic, giving influencers a larger audience. Influencers are likely to play a key role in encouraging both millennials and Gen Zers to travel, making social media more important than ever. You can use these platforms to showcase your company’s health and safety measures and help travelers feel more comfortable in booking a tour when they’re ready.
Travel trends constantly change, and travel in a post-COVID world might look a little different, but the fact that these generations care about sustainable tourism, want authentic experiences, and are heavily reliant on the web to make their travel decisions is likely to remain true.
Explore our guides on travel trends and social media to learn more!