Just like each generation that came before, millennials are growing older and marketers are slowly adjusting their focus on the young people coming up behind them: Generation Z, the oldest of whom are in their 20s. Generation Z may not have much disposable income yet, but ignore them at your peril. Already they are influencing family travel decisions, and they’re more likely to favor “off-the-beaten-path” destinations. And since, according to Digital Tourism Think Tank, Gen Z will account for as much as 40% of consumers by 2020, the time to engage is now.
Gen Z prioritizes experiences, and they are persuading other family members to align with their interests in seeking out unusual destinations. As a result, the most forward-thinking travel brands are delivering deeper experiences to travelers by focusing on three things above all else: inspiration, personalization and a path toward self-discovery. Travel brands and destinations are exploring ways to build a business around helping this generation connect to their immediate surroundings and the people around them, rather than just digital connectivity.
Gen Z is also defined by its use of technology. Other generations can still remember a time before technology was so pervasive. But for this generation, technology isn't just second nature, it's part of their identity. It makes sense that to reach this population, resort brands should take advantage of social media, but with a Gen Z peer’s perspective since they value peer input above an “experts.” Travel industry marketers need to involve them early in the travel planning process outside of traditional marketing channels. Gen Z prefers to be ‘silent’ and self-reliant because they don’t want to be sold to.
Does this mean that luxury destinations should switch their focus from millennial to Gen Z? Of course not, millennials still have spending ability and authority, but a strategy that mixes in Gen Z messaging will set the stage for current and future business.