New U.S. generational data released today by Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising arm of Expedia, Inc., shows that American travelers are deal-driven explorers, and Millennials embrace the ‘you only live once’ (#YOLO) mentality, take risks and focus on crossing things off their bucket list, while Gen X prefers relaxing trips and visiting family. The findings, from a survey conducted by Northstar Research Partners, illustrate broad U.S. travel trends as well as the distinct shopping habits, influences and motivations of travelers across four generations, including Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers.
Across all generations, Americans are open-minded travelers who are deciding between two or more destinations and seeking help and inspiration during the travel planning process. Friends and family, online travel agencies (OTAs) and search engines are the largest influences on travel decisions. Although more than 90 percent of Americans say they look for deals and value, they ultimately prioritize activities and experiences over discounts when making travel decisions.
“While some of the findings were expected, such as Gen Z being more influenced by social media than Baby Boomers, we also uncovered surprising nuances and distinct habits within each generation, including the insight that Millennials are most likely to be influenced by advertising,” said Wendy Olson Killion, Global Senior Director at Expedia Media Solutions. “Our research into the generational influences, motivations and decision drivers of American travelers provides fresh insights and takeaways to help marketers successfully target and convert each age group.”
Gen Z is Open-Minded, Bucket-List Oriented and Looking for Off the Beaten Path Locations
Gen Z travels 29 days a yeari and although they have a budget in mind when planning a trip, they invest in travel, and are more likely than other generations to travel internationally or for a special event. They are avid outdoor explorers and only one-third of Gen Z travelers have a destination in mind when they begin the research process.
- About 80 percent of Gen Z are looking to explore the outdoors and be active, opt for off the beaten path destinations and recommendations from locals, and embrace #YOLO. More than one-third travel for special events like concerts, festivals and sports.
- Gen Z spends about 25 percent of their budget on flights – more than any other generation – but may be seeking cheaper accommodation options. They spend less on hotels than other generations, and are also more likely to consider alternative accommodations.
- Nearly 90 percent of Gen Z travelers said their decisions are influenced by social media, either through searches or online connections such as family and friends. Facebook and Instagram are the most influential platforms, but this tech-savvy generation is more likely than other generations to be influenced by Snapchat.
Millennials Embrace YOLO and Prefer All-Inclusive, Relaxing and Romantic Vacations
Millennials travel more than any other generation (35 days per year) and are more likely than other generations to be influenced by advertising during the decision-making process. They enjoy a wider variety of trip types, including relaxing at the beach or a resort, visiting family, sight-seeing, romantic getaways, and leisure.
- Similar to Gen Z, Millennials are #YOLO adventure-seekers; eight in 10 are looking to explore the outdoors and opt for off the beaten path destinations. However, unlike Gen Z, Millennials are also focused on relaxation: 83 percent said they prefer all-inclusive, worry-free vacations, and 75 percent said they’re all about taking a nap on the beach and indulging in spa treatments.
- Nearly 70 percent of Millennials stayed in a hotel on their last trip – more than any other generation--but they allocate less of their budget to hotels than Gen X and Boomers.
- Over 70 percent of Millennials, more than any other generation, said ads can be influential during the decision-making process, and they are most influenced by ads featuring appealing deals or imagery and informative content.
- More than half of Millennials are using OTAs to book travel, followed by search engines (39 percent) and hotel sites (33 percent).
Gen X are Vacation Deprived Road Trip Warriors, Traveling Less Frequently than Other Generations
Family-oriented Gen X travels only 26 days per year, less than any other generation, but they spend more on hotels and prefer relaxing trips, sight-seeing vacations and visiting family.
- Nearly 90 percent of Gen X travels domestically and 43 percent travel by car, which is likely why these road trip warriors are willing to allocate more of their budget to hotels (30 percent) and attractions or tours (13 percent).
- Gen X is influenced less by social media than their younger counterparts, but more than half are influenced by Facebook and they are more likely to be influenced by Pinterest than Gen Z.
- About 90 percent of Gen X said they look for deals and read travel reviews before making a decision, and 88 percent said informative content from destinations and travel brands can influence their decision.
Baby Boomers Are Decisive and Confident Travelers, And Not Tied to Budget
Boomers travel 27 days per year and are heavily focused on visiting family, so they know where they want to go and how to get there, which makes them seem more predictable than other generations. However, they are less likely to be tied to a budget than other generations, and when not visiting family, they fill their itinerary with museums, historical sites, arts and culture and recommendations from locals.
- When they start planning a trip, over 55 percent of Baby Boomers have already decided on a destination and 43 percent said they don’t need any help. More than 67 percent of Boomers are taking trips to visit family, substantially more than other generations, while relaxing and sightseeing vacations round out their top trip types.
- Less budget driven than younger generations, fewer than 60 percent of Baby Boomers said budget was a primary factor when planning a trip. This is likely why 66 percent are influenced by ads with informative content, compared to about 60 percent influenced by ads with appealing deals.
- Half of Baby Boomers are using OTAs to plan and book travel, but they are more likely than other generations to use hotel and airline sites.
More Multi-Generational Marketing Insights
For more findings and insights that marketers can leverage to better reach, engage and convert American travelers, and to view the full study, please visit here.
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