Gen Z is the newest generation; they were born between 1997 and 2012 and are currently between 9 and 24 years old. This generation, unlike baby boomers and millennials, was born with technology. The whole revolution of how we communicate and interact is something they have been used to since childhood. The iPhone, for example, was launched in 2007; in their teens, they were connected to wi-fi and using mobile devices, besides social media and on-demand entertainment.
So, how to stand out from the virtual crowd for a generation that has always been online? And most important, why the travel industry should pay attention to Generation Z?
First, it is important to know that the way the newest generation travels is not the same as we might be used to it - but don't worry, we'll talk more about it.
Does this mean that your tours and activities should change their strategies entirely? No need to rush, but it means that your business needs to understand the future of the travel and tourism industry.
Gen Z plays a crucial role in shaping how we all consume, buy and engage with brands. For the newest generations, Gen Z and Millenials, travel has become more than just a brief escape from reality, but an element of their life.
Here is some information about this new generation to help you understand how Gen Zs will influence the industry and their current behavior.
How the Gen Z travel
Gen Zers are smart and adaptable, and since it's a digital-native generation, they use technology through all stages of their journey.
A Study on Generation Z travelers by the European Travel Commission (ETC) that investigated this group travel preferences and behavior, gave us some great insights.
- Generation Z chooses to travel to a European destination mainly because of safety and security;
- Their main purpose for traveling is vacation (70%);
- Gen Zers can be defined as Immersive Explorers - because of their interest in urban culture, gastronomy, and traditions, and City Life Enthusiasts, due to their interest in shopping and nightlife while on holiday.
- They are more likely to return to a destination over time. Keeping in mind that a returning customer is a goal for any business, knowing that Gen Zers are happy to return to a destination makes the importance of providing great service before, during, and after the activities even more relevant. If you want to read more about marketing strategies that will build your region and drive tourist traffic, check out The 8 destination marketing strategies with the highest ROI.
How Gen Zers plan their vacation
They research a lot before making a purchase, searching for higher standards. When planning a travel, Gen Zs search for inspiration in different ways, such as through friends and family, travel review sites (TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet), Official tourism website, and Social media. This diverse behavior shows the importance of understanding the many preferences that each market has.
Even when they are traveling with other generations like parents and grandparents, according to a report by GroupAccomodation, 38% of Gen Z feel that they are mainly in charge of researching things to do in advance. So if you offer tours and activities for families, remember to include information relevant to everyone.
Gen Z travel motivations
This new generation is diverse and on the way to being the most well-educated generation yet. Issues such as sustainability, sexuality, gender identity and racial equality are things that they care about and search for everywhere they go.
They care about the humans behind the brand and expect brands to be truthful and authentic. A way to connect with them is to show a personal side.
When traveling, as reported by ETC, the most popular in-destination activities for the Gen Zers is to try locally-produced food and drink (75%), followed by learning about the urban culture (67%), doing cultural activities - such as visiting museums (62%) and shop in big stores or a mall (62%).
Now that we learned about Generation Z's behavior, expectations and preferences, here are strategies that your travel and tourism company can work to reach the new travelers.
Showing the human side
You can use your website and social media to show your brand's human and personal side. You can:
- Share meaningful experiences: The future is full of travelers exploring the world purposefully, supporting locals, and feeling immersed in the culture.
- Work with storytelling: Gen Zers want to know how the experience will make them feel and what they will have the chance to see, learn, and even taste. With storytelling, your company can stand out from others. Show them engaging content so they can interact with you and the tours or activities you offer.
- Create a brand's tone of voice: Your tone reflects your brand personality and values and helps you connect with your customers. With a defined tone, you can make your brand memorable and unique. Remember to use a consistent tone of voice across multiple channels. Remember that you need to deliver across multiple channels.
To learn insightful tips about marketing strategy, read our article about 9 online marketing challenges (and how to deal with them).
Gen Z prefers video
An expected behavior among Gen Z is the preference for video. They might prefer searching for something on YouTube instead of Google as a search engine. A report by GroupAccomodation showed that 90% of Gen Z say social media influence their international travel decisions.
This means that working with videos on your social media, website, and OTAs profile can help you engage with them. When creating content, they are particularly interested in authenticity; generic content won't influence their decisions.
You can showcase youth culture, tips on your destination, and the uniqueness of your location, making them feel that they are integrated into a community by watching how it's in real life.
Keep in mind that they also prefer instant gratification, this means no patience. For them, all information should be available at all times. For example, if you're posting a video of an outdoor experience, make sure to add the location and extra info about it.
Developing highly engaging content is part of a great marketing strategy. If you want to know more about how a brand can be appealing on Instagram and much more, read our article on How Instagram has changed the tourism and travel industry.
When we talk about the importance of videos, there's no way to leave this platform out of the conversation. Why should you work with TikTok? The fast-growing social media has already reached 1 billion monthly active users in 2021, a growth of 45% over the previous year. Also, in 2021 it was the top downloaded app in the world. Most of the users are Gen Zers, and 30% of them prefer using TikTok.
With a TikTok strategy, you can drive online sales, raise brand awareness and engage with your customers. Here are some ways your travel and tourism company can create content for TikTok:
- Work with suitable hashtags: This can help you reach more people and get more followers - keep in mind that, unlike Instagram, you should only work with a few hashtags at a time on this platform.
- Follow the trends, but make yours unique: The trends are very fast-moving, so don't feel obligated to create content for all the trends. Choose the ones that make sense to your brand and go for them.
- Post often: TikTok recommends posting one to four times per day. We know that it's hard to deliver this amount of content, so consider that when you do post, your content is high-quality and engaging.
- You can use TikTok Ads: With the platform, you can choose your objective, set budget, target and bidding method, ad copy and CTA, and more.
When creating content, show things that they are interested in. As the generation that watches on-streaming and loves social media, you can share content related to what they are searching for. For example, the series "Money Heist" filmed in Spain was so famous that now you see walking tours to visit the places it was filmed. Creating content on TikTok not only reaches Generation Z but also Millennials and Generation X. To read more about the generations and their behaviors, take a look at our article about Travel Trend: The buying power of Generation X.
Gen Z wants mobile booking
The generation born with smartphones in their hands prefers the smartphone over the desktop for research, booking and even for cancellations and modifications. They are mobile-first, so the business that doesn't offer it will be considered irrelevant to them.
Nevertheless, meeting the demands of a mobile-first generation will require creating experiences for the journey to be planned and booked online. According to ETC Market Study, 36% of Generation Z preferred OTAs as booking channels, followed by direct channels by 29%, and 50% prefer mobile for booking trip-related components.
It would be best if you had mobile-friendly website to offer all the relevant information about your tours and activities and allow visitors to go through all the journey, from planning to booking, online and from a smartphone. For this, you can use a website booking engine, such as TrekkSoft, with a checkout flow that converts website visitors into sales - and add a "book now" button to your current website to accept online bookings anytime, anywhere.
Gen Z is coming of age and they are changing the travel industry as we know it. They are more connected than any other generation before them and they expect to be able to book their travel online, on their phones.
This is a huge shift for the tourism industry and businesses need to start preparing now if they want to stay ahead of the curve.
Are you ready for Generation Z? If not, let us help you get there. Our team of experts can help you design a booking experience that appeals to this tech-savvy generation. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business grow with Generation Z.