Travel preferences: Gen Z vs other demographics

Gen Z Travel Trends 2023: Rethinking the Future of Tourism?

As a Gen Z, I have always noticed how different we are compared to the previous generations. 

Spearheading the reconstruction of societal norms and breaking generational stereotypes are things we are good at.

The same can be noticed in our travelling trends. We prefer to seek wilderness and equality over the generational straight path. Because of this sense of unpredictability, everyone in the travel industry has their eyes on Gen Z travellers. 

From technological advancements to seeking value over everything else, here are some of the ways Gen Zs differ from other demographics. 

A Guide to Gen Z

First things first, let’s define what Gen Z is. Gen Z refers to the age group born between 1997 to 2012. This age group is very versatile, with the oldest turning 25 this year and the youngest turning 10.

Generation Z  was born into technology. An unparalleled internet presence, explosive technological innovation, and increased global awareness contribute to a shift in consumer attitudes, expectations, and travel preferences.

Gen Z is actively redefining what it means to travel and embracing their unique needs is essential to understanding the future of the tourism industry. 

Two girls sitting on rocks beside a river and laughing.
Source: globetrender.com

They are more likely to return and add more value to destinations over time, discover new destinations, Incorporate technology on their trips and finally gain personal cultural benefits. 

Travel Trends of Gen Z

The newest generation of travellers aka Gen Zs has a unique pattern of travelling that differs from all the previous generations. Some trends that have been observed among Gen Z when it comes to travel include:

  • Seeking Unique and Authentic Experiences: Gen Z tends to be interested in seeking out unique and authentic experiences when they travel and may be drawn to lesser-known destinations and off-the-beaten-path experiences.
  • Prioritizing Sustainability: Sustainability is often a top concern for Gen Z when it comes to travel, and they may choose eco-friendly accommodations and transportation options, as well as participate in activities that have a positive impact on the local community.
  • Using Technology to Plan and Book Travel: Gen Z is known for being tech-savvy, and they often use online resources and apps to research and plan their travels, as well as to book flights and accommodations.
  • Seeking Value for Money: While Gen Z may be willing to splurge on certain experiences, they also tend to be cost-conscious and look for ways to save money on travel, such as by staying in budget accommodations or using ride-sharing services.
A pie chart explaining whether budget is important while planning a trip or not.
  • Experiencing Local Culture: Gen Z tends to be interested in immersing themselves in the local culture when they travel and may choose to stay in homestays or participate in activities that allow them to interact with locals.

Gen Z is the key market segment of the tourism industry now. That’s why it’s important to understand how they plan, book and control their trips.

Preferred Accommodation 

When it comes to accommodation, Gen Z has a varied sense of taste. Unlike the previous generations, Gen Z ers do not prefer luxury hotels or resorts for their trips. Rather they prefer to stay at small eccentric hotels and Airbnb when they are on a budget. 

Speaking of Airbnb, it is one of the things that garnered huge attention among Gen Z ers in recent years. The ease of booking and relatively low cost attracts this generation to opt for them. Trending travel techs have also made it easier for Gen Z to book accommodations fairly easily. 

For the most part, Gen Zs like to travel on a budget. But when it comes to special staying opportunities and green travelling they are willing to splurge a little more. As a result, they often try to venture into luxury accommodations at an affordable rate. 

A bar diagram showing Gen Zs are more likely to splurge on trips.

However, their preferred accommodation doesn’t end at just that. Because of their thirst for experiencing intercultural experiences they are willing to stay at unique locations like hostels, campsites and rented rooms in other people’s houses. This sort of accommodation gives Gen Z the scope to connect to the local people. Thus, their hopes of participating more in the local culture get fulfilled. 

Preferred Transportation

While Gen Zs prefer to splurge on experiences and accommodations, they try to save on transportation. With the rise of the popularity of budget airlines, Gen Zs now prefer spending less on travel. 

A bar diagram showing on which item Gen Zs spend on the most while travelling.

They think of flight as just a mere method of reaching from destination A to B. As a result, they tend not to spend much here as they plan on shelling out that money on experiences.  

Budget airlines like RyanAir, Scoot, AirAsia etc. have made it possible for Gen Zers to travel on a budget. Previously a major portion of their money was spent on flights. Now, with budget airlines, they can save money on flights and spend it somewhere else. 

Unlike previous generations, Gen Zs does not need extra facilities while travelling. Features like luxurious food, sitting space and additional details are not exactly life-altering to the gen z population. 

Preferred Destinations

Gen Zs prefer value and unique experiences. Thus they tend to go off beaten paths and explore the local area. Contrary to the other generations, Gen Zs rarely plans on going on relaxing resort tours. Rather they seek challenges and connections with the locality. 

They also prefer going to underrated countries that are usually not explored often in the hopes of finding new experiences. That’s why the rise of travelling to more unique destinations has recently reached an all-time high. Countries like Poland, Romania, Guatemala, Ecuador etc. have seen a rise in popularity among Gen Zs lately. Vaasa, Finland is also one of these underrated places that have been gaining a lot of traction in recent times. 

But the rise of travelling to newer destinations did not eliminate the tours of popular destinations. European and Asian countries offering different cultural experiences and picturesque views are popular among the new generation even now. Italy, Spain, Japan, Thailand etc. are still popular as ever. 

Preferred Activities

There are two things that define Gen Z. One being their relatively young age and another is their innate need to experience thrill-seeking activities. 

Once-in-a-lifetime activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, hot air balloon safari etc. are very popular among Gen Z travellers. This generation has been hit hard the most by the pandemic. They understand how fleeting life is. To make the most out of this transient life, Gen Zs are more likely to go for thrilling outdoor experiences. 

On days that these young travellers are not jumping off mountains or planes, they like to venture into the city and experience the culture. They are especially intrigued by what the nightlife has to offer. 

Hiking, exploring underrated places and connecting with the local people are also some of the activities that Gen Z travellers like to do. 

Value-Based Travelling

Gen Z prefers internal fulfilment over external gains. This means Gen Zers would much prefer unique experiences and connections with local people over Instagram likes or flex points of travelling around the world. 

This is where value-based travelling comes in. Instead of all-inclusive packages, Gen Z prefers to steer off the path. They tend to explore on their own and gain experience and knowledge by veering off the straight path. 

One of the key traits of Gen Zs also happens to be the need to make this world a better place again. They are more likely to consider sustainable travelling options than any other generation. 

According to the Telus International report, 54% of Gen Zs are willing to pay a higher amount for a more sustainable method of transportation. This generation also believes that flights should be taxed so that people are less likely to take recurrent flights and prevent environmental pollution. 

Lastly, inclusion and diversity have been key factors of this generation. This generation in particular revolutionised the act of inclusion and diversity in all sorts of workplaces. So naturally, Gen Zs also has a knack for only getting services from agencies which have strict values of inclusivity. 

Navigating Travel in a Post-Pandemic World

The pandemic put a sharp halt to the travel industry. As a result, the situation of the travel and touring sectors post-pandemic is not the same. 

However, the travel industry experienced sharp growth in recent years following the substantial decrease in Covid19 cases. According to a 2022 statistics from Avail, 71% of the gen z population plan on travelling more now that the pandemic is over.

A passport with a boarding pass and a face mask on top of a luggage.
Source: forbes.com

People are planning on enjoying revenge trips to make up for the time lost. Nearly two-thirds of Gen Zers are thinking of travelling more to counter the lost time according to Expedia Group. 

Compared to the other generations, gen z is more flexible with covid protocols. Whether it be wearing masks in public places, isolation or transportation, Gen Zs are more adept in handling travelling and maintaining covid protocols. 

Gen Z vs Millennials 

Gen Zs are often mixed up with their previous generation, the millennials. But these two generations cannot be more different from each other. 

Millennials who are generally defined as individuals born between 1981 and 1996, are a generation that has grown up while the internet was just starting out. So, even though they are technologically dependent to some extent, they are not entirely influenced by it. 

Millennials are also less likely to go on trips abroad as they do not get enough holidays. The economic difficulties also affect Gen z and Millennials in the way they travel. 

A pie chart showing 51% of Gen Zs take international trips.
A pie chart showing 35% of Millennials take international trips.

Some of the ways these two generations differ in their travel preferences are given below: 

  • Millennials favour beach locations and resorts where they can plan relaxing getaways.
  • As the majority of the millennials are job holders, they tend to mix business with pleasure and often go on luxurious business trips. 
  • Millennials are also more prone to travelling with a partner or their family over solo travels. 
  • The millennials are at a stage in their life where they need to save money to pay for bills and their family. As a result, they prefer budget over luxury.

Understanding the differences truly points out how different the two consequent generations are. 

Gen Z: Male vs Female

Generation Z has put an end to most stereotypes.

With the rise of equality and easy accessibility around the world, the amount of solo gen z women travellers has increased by 88%. Previously women didn’t have the opportunity or freedom of travelling as often as their male counterparts. A generational revolution focusing on equality made it easy and empowering for women to travel in recent years. 

When we speak about the past generations, we cannot help but notice that the number of male travellers far surpassed the number of female travellers. But with gen Z the difference between the number of travellers of both genders has been closing in. It’s also worth noting that the gap between male and female travel habits and preferences may be narrowing as societal attitudes towards gender roles and expectations continue to evolve.

Ultimately, the most important thing is for individuals to choose travel experiences that align with their personal interests and goals, regardless of their gender. The onset of these values can be seen in generation Z. 

End Note

Generation Z is the leader of the new generation of travelling. Understanding them would be the key to staying relevant in the travel industry.

I hope this thorough input on the travel trends of Gen Zs has helped you to understand this unique generation a little more. 

Until next time!

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