Signature Travel Network, the travel agency cooperative, apparently isn’t the only group interested in the travel habits of Millennials and younger generations. The Center for Generational Kinetics, (the group led by Jason Dorsey, known the “Gen Y Guy”), which did a study of the younger generational markets for Signature (click on Signature Study), has now unveiled yet another survey it did with Expedia exploring consumer behavior and travel preferences of American adults from Generation Z (age 18-22) to Baby Boomers (age 55-65).
The good news is the latest study for Expedia found that people are shifting away from a society of stuff (products like clothes, electronics, jewelry) to a society of experiences, and are specifically saving for travel. But the survey done for Expedia also found that travelers “overwhelmingly” prefer to book through online travel agencies, like Expedia (perhaps no big surprise given they were paying for the study). The study done for Signature, in contrast, showed rising levels of interest by Millennials in using the services of a traditional travel agent.
“Insights into younger generations preferences are as good as a crystal ball, and currently their trends are pointing towards a great future for the travel space,” said Sarah Gavin, vice president of Expedia’s global communications. “Knowing what travelers of all ages prioritize is important, but the younger generations’ growing love for travel is what keeps us going as we prioritize customer centricity, offering the best deals and the convenience of booking everything at once, all in one place.”
According to the survey, social media is influencing consumer purchasing decisions, with 36 percent of Gen Z saying they have chosen a travel destination because they saw it on social media. At the same time, however, priorities are shifting from posting a new handbag to live streaming a ziplining experience.
Seventy-four percent of all U.S. respondents said they would prioritize spending on experiences rather than products, especially Millennials, with 65 percent of that generation saying they are currently saving money to spend specifically on travel. Nearly half of Millennials said they would sell their clothes or furniture to travel more. And nearly 20 percent of Gen Z respondents said they have stayed at a specific hotel or destination in order to score a positive response from followers on posts on their own social media channels.
According to the Expedia study, travelers “overwhelmingly” prefer to book through online travel agencies. Indeed, Expedia claims that with technology impacting the everyday lives of consumers, the way Americans prefer to book travel is shifting towards convenience versus brand loyalty. Eight percent of each generation studied declared that they preferred booking all travel and hotel accommodations on one site, versus booking each travel item separately.
Eight-seven percent of Gen Z respondents said they find booking all travel components in one place helpful and most (55 percent) would consider booking entirely through an online travel agency, with no comparison shopping when asked, “Would you book an entire trip through an online travel agency without visiting any other sites?”
The youngest generations surveyed, Gen-Z and Millennials (age 22-35) focus their purchasing decisions on travel, with 65 percent currently saving for a trip this year. Younger generations tend to prioritize impressing their peers, along with seeking out adventure and disconnecting for relaxation. Millennials also are extremely independent, with one in every four having traveled alone on a leisure trip in the past year.
Seventy-one percent of Gen Z respondents said they would get a part-time job just to save up for a leisure trip. And 11 percent of Gen Z respondents say they have actually postponed a breakup due to a previously planned trip with their partner.
The good news: Expedia says the shift in consumer purchasing intent from products to experiences signals a promising road ahead for the travel industry. It also says younger travelers trust online travel agencies to have a breadth of choice, technological simplicity and savings that help satisfy their increasing appetite for travel. But looks like the question remains, are Millennials and Gen Z customers going to be interested in booking with traditional agents, or are they simply going to focus on working with the big OTAs? Our guess is you can massage the numbers any way you want.
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