Inspired by social media, paid for with multi-currency accounts and guided by digital apps and maps — the travel preferences of the younger generation Z are are shaping the holidays of the future.
Exclusive research for Consumer Intelligence reveals that 18-24 year olds have a very different travelling style from their parents’ generation, meaning that companies will have to adapt in order to offer services and products that appeal.
“Our figures show that younger holidaymakers use a whole range of very different products to older travellers, whether it is ride-sharing apps, local link-up sites or electronic passes on their phones,” says Andy Buller, travel money expert at Consumer Intelligence.
“Analysing the differences between the travelling behaviour of this generation and their forebears will be key for companies that want to remain relevant in the coming years,” he added. “Generation Z is taking different types of breaks, spending different lengths of time abroad and even spending its money using different payment methods. Staying abreast of these changes is key, as this digital generation grows up.”
A spirit of adventure
The good news for travel companies is that the new generation don’t like staying at home. The Consumer Intelligence survey shows that while 65% of us went on holiday abroad last year, the younger generation was more likely to leave the UK, with 71% having travelled overseas. 18-24 year olds are the most likely to be planning even more travel this year, with only 16% not expecting to take an overseas holiday this year.
Globetrotting young people travel to visit friends and family abroad, as well as for city breaks. They are also the most likely group to choose an activity holiday such as a safari or backpacking trip.
“These results back up what we know about Generation Z,” says Andy Buller. “This generation value experiences over material goods — hence the desire to travel despite the financial pressures placed on young people today. The strong interest in activity and experience holidays is also characteristic of a millennial mindset. Travel companies need to be mindful of how to ensure they are offering holidays and destinations that appeal, since this generation’s wanderlust isn’t going away any time soon.”
The booking process
The traditional travel brochure leaves younger travellers cold, with the younger generation more likely to trust social media or recommendations from family and friends. Just under half (40%) of 18-24 year olds turned to social media for inspiration when booking holidays, compared to 23% of the survey respondents as a whole. Well over half (57%) trusted recommendations from family or friends, compared with 47% of total respondents.
Younger people were less likely to use brochures (13% against 28% of the total population), and far less likely to watch television travel shows (4% against 22%). They were slightly less likely to speak to travel agents or do online research.
“Traditional methods of reaching clients don’t always work with the younger generation,” says Mr Buller. “It’s crucial to realise the importance, not only of online social networks, but of word of mouth as well.”
Package holidays are now far from their heyday, but Consumer Intelligence research shows that younger people are even more likely than most to book travel and accommodation separately. 69% booked their holiday in separate parts, compared with 62% of the general population.
“Traditional methods of reaching clients don’t always work with the younger generation,” says Mr Buller. “It’s crucial to realise the importance, not only of online social networks, but of word of mouth as well. ”
Travel money, too, will have to adapt to the different demands of younger people. Younger people are opting for cash-free methods of spending. Overall, 59% of travellers spent money exchanged in the UK on their holiday abroad. That drops to 51% among 18-24 year olds. Only 45% of 24-35 year olds opted for cash from the UK, suggesting that the digital travel money revolution is already affecting older generations.
“Spending differences between age groups abroad are subtle but important,” Mr Buller says. “18-24 year olds are more likely to use multi-currency accounts, while the slightly older 24-35 year olds use prepaid cards. Companies that offer both, and market both at the right types of travellers, will be at an advantage in coming years.”
The tech-savvy traveller
As well as using digital means to book and inspire their holidays, younger people are naturally using technology to enhance the travel experience. The 18-35 year olds surveyed are the most likely to be using digital maps and digitally downloaded e-tickets and boarding passes. They are also more likely than average to use accommodation booking apps, translation apps, ride hailing apps and social or dating apps.
“For younger travellers, use of apps for travel is already firmly embedded,” says Andy Buller. “They are well aware of the convenience it can give them when it comes to having an experience-filled holiday. A phone can help to meet locals, talk to them in their own language, find the best restaurants and get home safely at the end of the night. Quite simply, the phone in the pocket is the best holiday companion these people can have.”
However, he added that relying completely on a phone left young people vulnerable in the face of loss or theft. “ Its important to have a contingency plan involving some cash or another alternative payment method,” he said.
How companies should be responding
Insight into this generation of travellers is crucial for many reasons. Firstly, they are the generation most likely to be travelling abroad at present, and as they grow older and disposable income rises they will travel even more and be prepared to spend more. Where younger people lead on technology, the rest of us will follow — so this is where all companies should be looking to divine travel trends.
“Whether it is partnering with the right apps, providing the right currency service, picking the right destinations or holiday types, or getting the social media influencing right, companies must take up the challenge posed by Generation Z,” Andy Buller says.
Consumer Intelligence’s latest travel money survey shows that the travel money market is changing in response to Fintech innovations and the growing prevalence of a cashless society.
This report shows only part of the picture revealed by our travel money survey. Here at Consumer Intelligence, we can create further bespoke reports and in-depth examination of individual brand performance and trends over time.
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