Millennials and Generation Z now make up over half of the world population. These two generations value travel enormously and operators should know these three things about what they look for when booking experiences.

It’s estimated that millennials represent 31.5% of the world population and Gen Z now makes up 32%. That means over half of the world fit into these two generations. Their spending habits and preferences are shaping the world as we know it.  

The travel industry is of course no different than any other industry being impacted by this generational shift. Millennials and Gen Z value travel immensely, and are constantly seeking out new travel experiences. Compared to other generations, they value doing something, rather than owning something. 78% of millennials said they would prefer to spend money on an experience over buying something desirable, according to an Eventbrite and Harris Interactive report.

This represents a seismic shift in the traditional ways experience operators think about their audiences. If you’re not optimizing your business to win over these younger consumers, you’re missing out on a huge potential chunk of revenue. Thankfully, these travelers are on the hunt for experiences like the ones you offer.  

Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about these two generations and what it means for your business.

Millennials and Generation Z are on the move, and they want to experience new things—or traditional things in a unique way

Skift conducted a study comparing the travel trends of both millennials and Generation Z, as well as comparing between the countries of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, China, and India. 

They found that over half of all millennial and Gen Z travelers from America, the United Kingdom, and Australia had taken one to two leisure trips in the last year; over half of Chinese and Indian travelers had taken three or more leisure trips. Over 85% of respondents from each group stated that they want their next trip to be to a new location. 

When asked what motivates them to travel, over 60% of each group chose either the chance to do certain activities that are unavailable at home, or sightseeing and visiting cultural/natural attractions. Millennials and Generation Z are motivated by the idea of exploring and doing something new. They want to go somewhere they haven’t been, or see something in a unique, authentic way. 

When you consider how this affects your business, think about the types of experiences you offer and the messaging you use when marketing them. To attract a younger audience, you want to think about offering something they can’t get anywhere else—and be sure to sell the uniqueness of your experiences. Even if you’re operating a popular attraction, or your tour visits the “must-see” landmarks—add something special or a little different than what your competitors are doing to separate your product from the others. Or, you may consider creating a fully new tour/product that focuses more on the lesser-known, local vibe of your destination.

Millennials and Generation Z aren’t all the same, even when it comes to social media use

The two generations aren’t completely the same. There are differences across the age gap, as well as from country to country. It’s easy to lump them into one, similar group because of their youth, but there are distinct differences that are emerging between millennials and Generation Z.

One of the most surprising differences comes in an area that may surprise you: social media. It’s clear that both millennials and Generation Z are the most influential generations when it comes to deciding what social media platforms thrive and which are left behind. But their tastes are not necessarily the same. 

Skift found that millennials in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia prefer Facebook as their top social media site. In comparison, those in Generation Z from the United States and Australia prefer YouTube, and those from the U.K. prefer Instagram. 

For so long the standard has been to ensure your business has an active Facebook feed (and maybe Twitter), but now you should start thinking about sharing content on YouTube, Instagram, and even Snapchat. Why? Because Generation Z likes rich video content that is easily-accessible on their mobile phones. Consider filming videos of your experiences that can be posted in a longer format on YouTube, or small snippets on Instagram and Snapchat. Ramping up your presence on these platforms is a great way to begin engaging with the next generation of passionate travelers.

Millennials and Generation Z plan—and book—their travel with their smartphones

The Skift report that studied the habits of both millennials and Generation Z found that the majority of these travelers take the lead role when it comes to planning a trip. For all five of the countries surveyed (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, India, and China) over 50% of respondents said they were the primary planner for a typical leisure trip.

It’s no surprise, then, that these technologically savvy consumers then turn to their mobile devices to help them plan and book their trips. Over 50% of every group surveyed indicated they only or mostly use their smartphone for planning; China, in particular, sways heavily towards smartphone usage, with 71% saying they only or mostly use their smartphone. 

The planning isn’t something that occurs only at home either. Between 56% and 58% of travelers from America, the U.K., Australia, and China said they do a mix of planning before leaving and in-destination. India was the only country to have a majority say they usually plan everything at home. 

Booking habits closely matched planning habits when it came to smartphone usage as well. No matter what stage they are in, millennials and Generation Z want to use their phones to research, plan, and book their trip.

How do you take advantage? For starters, you want to make your products online-bookable as soon as possible, if you haven’t already. When you sign up for Viator, we’ll help you do just that. Your products will show up where these travelers are doing their planning (on our site, in our mobile app, and across our vast partner network), providing a mobile-optimized experience when they’re ready to book. And you’ll be able to optimize your products to secure more bookings, like setting lower cut-off times to capture millennial and Generation Z travelers who save their last-minute bookings for when they’re in-destination. 

We’re no longer predicting when millennials and Generation Z will be the driving force in the economy, that day is here. As an attraction or experience operator, you are positioned to capture their business. These generations, more so than previous ones, are hungry for unique experiences around the world. They are actively seeking out experiences that will broaden their horizons and introduce them to new ideas and cultures. Position yourself for success with these generations by hyping up the uniqueness of your business, branching out into different social media channels, and making sure your products are available to book online—and across the key platforms that millennials and Generation Z are using to plan and book their trips.

Sell your products online to travelers worldwide. Capture last-minute bookers.

About the Author: Matt Ellis

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