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5 Things Travel Advisors Need to Know About Generation Z

by: Daniel McCarthy

What Gen Z could mean about the future of travel advisors’ business.

Photo: Shutterstock

The oldest member of Generation Z, the generation succeeding millennials and preceding Generation Alpha, will turn 23 this year — with millions of Gen Zers starting to enter adulthood and the workforce accelerating over the next two years. According to the Pew Research Center, Gen Z is expected to be more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations and to be the best-educated generation yet. It is also expected to soon start transforming how businesses market, with a brand new generation with a different composition, different spending habits, and different attitudes soon making a major difference in the world’s economy. Jason Dorsey, the president and co-founder of The Center for Generational Kinetics, recently released his and his team’s findings in a book, Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business—and What to Do About, with Denise Villa, both of who lead The Center for Generational Kinetics, one of the most influential generational research firms in the world.

Dorsey took some time this week to talk to Travel Market Report about what Gen Z could mean for the future of travel advisors’ business and how they can best position themselves not for the upcoming flood of Gen Z into adulthood. Here are five things that travel advisors should be aware of as Gen Z continues to change the landscape:

1. Gen Z is more thoughtful about their vacation spend.

According to Dorsey’s research, which included input from 1,000 Gen Z members along with 1,000 Milennials for comparison, Gen Z has clear opinions about how they want to spend their money, with clear financial goals including buying a home someday and saving for retirement.

That trend is also impacting their thoughts on vacation spend.

“We see Gen Z being more thoughtful about their vacation planning spend--starting as soon as they leave high school and ramping up through college and early career years. In particular, they seem very interested in ‘getting a good deal’ to vacation with friends particularly tied to an event or experience they plan to attend together,” Dorsey told TMR.

“We also see Gen Z comparison shopping online more for better packaged deals and prices because they've been conditioned to try and save money, both from seeing their parents struggle through the great recession but also due to the financial impact of COVID-19. However, the good news, is that Gen Z does very much want to travel, expects to have to pay for travel, and leisure travel is near the top on their list of what they want to do more as quickly as possible once we come out of the pandemic.”

2. Active experiences will start to trend, even when Gen Z is traveling.

The research shows that 40% of Gen Z already uses some type of fitness app or activity tracker at least once a week and that, even with a heavier focus on screen time for Gen Z, 64% of Gen z exercises weekly or more often. That shift towards an active lifestyle will also make itself evident in travel, too. “It is definitely something we see they want right now. They don't want to just go somewhere and be idle, they want to actively engage during their travel,” Dorsey said. “However, that engagement ranges from being physically active such as hiking or renting a bike to get around but also hanging out on the beach or at the pool, visiting clubs and restaurants, and in general being outdoors or in indoor experiences that are active--such as music and culture. They are definitely an experience-driven traveler not afraid to leave a property once they arrive.”

3. Social media will be powerful for both marketing and selling.

Social media has seen a shift in usage for almost every single generation in the past decade, but, for Gen Z, it serves multiple needs as the average Gen Zer is using multiple different platforms daily such as YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. The large acceptance of social media by Gen Z will change the way they interact with their travel advisors, too. “Our research shows that social media can be both a powerful channel for sales and marketing, but the engagement must be highly targeted to Gen Z, fit their purchasing drivers, and the call-to-action should be simple. Whether that is one-click for more info or being able to connect with an advisor or watching multiple videos that take them behind the scenes at a potential destination,” Dorsey said. “The key is it must fit them, be as sensory oriented as possible, very easy to drive engagement in one-click on mobile, and if possible show how they are getting valuable by booking now or going to the next step.”

4. Having a smart-looking, and mobile fitting website will be more important than ever.

Having a poorly operating, or bad-looking website is going to discourage business from Gen Zers. To fully take advantage of Gen Z’s increasing reliance on the internet, advisors have to make sure their online presence is not only the best it can be on a desktop or laptop, but also on a mobile phone. “Assume the user is ONLY visiting the website through a mobile device. If you can make the site not just mobile-first but really think of it as a mobile-only visit you will optimize for Gen Z and better fit much of the travel web traffic in general,” Dorsey said. In addition, make videos prominent, simplify the text, and make everything easy and low risk to move to the next step, Dorsey added. Other tips include offering a chatbot and showcasing ratings and reviews.

5. The influencer community will be strong with Gen Zers.

“We find that getting some Gen Zers as advocates for an advisor is one of the ways to fast-track excitement and engagement. This can take on lots of different forms, but can be as simple as sponsoring--for very low dollars--local travel influencers to talk about your unique talent and services or write about you on their travel blogs if the audience is Gen Z,” Dorsey said. “In addition, consider working with a social media influencer agency to drive influencer engagement at very low cost per month. We've also seen good results for advisors to sponsor young professional groups within their community as they tend to be a client-centric opportunity and often are highly networked young and emerging professionals that advisors want to reach.” To read the full report from The Center for Generational Kinetics, click here, and to get Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business—and What to Do About, go here.

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