Your Travel Center/Montecito Village Travel is a host agency with over 400 independent contractors and four offices with $160M in annual sales. Connie Miller, the v.p. of business development, brings 25 years of experience to the organization.
To help answer our questions, Miller polled the host agency’s 400+ employees and independent contractor travel advisors and shared their insights with Recommend regarding Millennial and Gen Z Travel. All named respondents below are affiliated with Your Travel Center/Montecito Village travelers; and most respondents are Millennials or Gen Z themselves. Plus, all respondents provide travel services to these demographics.
What is a key differentiator you are finding between the Millennial traveler and the Gen Z traveler?
While Gen Z and Millennial travelers have many of the same travel desires—unique and authentic experiences, off-the-beaten path destinations and an overwhelming desire to experience a destination and not just see it, the following comments sum up the differences.
Lauren Medelberg with Medelberg Travel Services, who is on the cusp between being a Millennial and Gen Z herself, finds that Millennials are a bit more dependent than Gen Z—meaning that they are more likely to want things done for them and are okay for paying for those services. They are the kings and queens of reviews and will research both the destination and you before making a decision that will impact their experience. She finds Gen Z travelers are more independent, more willing to do the hard research and more willing to travel alone—they have all the techy gadgets and advises that if you want to work with them you must be techy as well.
Minerva Padilla with Avant-Garde Travel, who is a Gen Z agent, feels that the Millennial traveler is more about sharing experiences with like-minded people, and is looking for more of an adventure—off-the-beaten path experiences—while the Gen Z traveler is a bit more influenced in what they see in social media.
Kasra Esteghamat with Eden for Your World shares that he finds that Millennials tend to want nicer accommodations and want to have at least some pre-planned experiences while Gen Z desire to stay somewhere cool but inexpensive, and will use technology for many of their travel components in the belief that they can better experience local on their own by finding things on Instagram and other social media sites.
What is the top travel motivation for the Millennial traveler?
Overwhelmingly the travel advisors at Your Travel Center/Montecito Village Travel indicate that the motivator for millennial travelers include unique experiences, luxury, value, traveling to “hip” and hot new travel destinations. They also want great deals, which is one reason they like using travel agents who have access to certain upgrades and unique experiences. Another motivator is value…many millennials have young families now and want to explore the world without breaking the bank. They have worked hard and want to have experiences to show for it.
What destinations are most attractive to Millennials?
Social media still plays a big role in destination choice, but also driving the selection process and personal needs…do they need to explore, decompress, or share. Millennials then travel to where they have need or inspiration rather than a specific destination.
Additionally, the desire for new destinations is tempered by continued interests in the “classic” destinations of Europe. Trish Injaychock of Elysian Travel, who is also a Millennial, finds it especially fun to plan trips for millennials returning to Europe for the purpose of sharing favorite past trips with their spouses and children. They stay at great hotels, do guided activities and enjoy cultural experiences as a family. As Millennials travel needs change, so do the destinations.
What is the top travel motivation for the Gen Z traveler (those in their early 20s)?
According to our travel advisors, the overriding motivation for Gen Z is Social Media (Instagram, etc.), word of mouth and the opportunity to explore. Even our travel advisors who are Gen Z admit that there is a great desire to see a destination for the first time and of course upload a photo of their “IT” experience on social media.
Our advisors report that Gen Z travelers are more likely to stay at a 3/3.5 star hotel, eat locally and participate in local activities rather than stay at a nicer hotel with a fine dining restaurant. Not to say they are not “foodies,” because they are, however they are looking outside of the hotel environment.
What destinations are most attractive to the Gen Z age group (those in their early 20s)?
Although unique countries and/or beautiful natural beauty always top the lists for the Gen Z destinations, there is an overriding desire for Gen Z to connect, explore, and party with people their own age. And because they haven’t necessarily traveled as much as millennials, they do want to see the popular sites, as well as those off-the-beaten path.
According to Shelley Oliver with Holidays by Jane Iceland is very popular for all age groups, but Gen Z travelers are more likely to do things differently. For example, her last Gen Z Iceland booking was for a young couple to an Icelandic working farm that has been converted into a hotel. They are thrilled to be able to live and eat as locals in this trending destination. Not your typical pub crawl.
Are you seeing the Gen Z crowd more influenced by what they see on social media than Millennials and how is it affecting where they choose to travel?
Overwhelmingly, the answer is yes…and the influence is not just social media. Gamers find that travel allows them to meet competitors and teammates from all over the world and this interaction can help determine a travel destination.
Although social media is aspirational to the Gen Z traveler and inspires decisions, Oliver reports that she has seen some “social media backlash” as of late. For example, clients are telling her they don’t want to consider areas or destinations when it appears that a resort (or destination) paid for celebrities or the “internet famous” to promote.
How much of an influence is the younger Gen Z demographic (those in their early teens) having on family travel plans?
Children have always influenced parents. That being said, while most of our advisors agree that Gen Z plays a part in where the family travels, it is still the parents/grandparents who have the final say. Where Gen Z’s influence is greater felt is what happens on vacation…the activities and experiences that are selected…for example, Gen Z’s influence would be shown by a teens desire not to visit places that affront their value systems. One example that has been under scrutiny lately are concerns about SeaWorld and the treatment of its sea life.
And lastly, why should young people get into the travel agent business? How can an agency attract them?
Here are two viewpoints on why young people should get into the travel agent business, one from a Gen Z herself and the other being my “seasoned” reasoning.
Minerva Padilla with Avant-Garde Travel, who is also part of the Gen Z generation, says, “I think young people should get into the travel business, not just for the travel perks, but for everything this industry offers. Working in the travel business has allowed me to have connections with people from all over the world. Learn about unheard destinations, experience and travel to destinations that were not even on my bucket list. This industry opens your eyes literally to the entire world.”
Connie Miller v.p. of Business Development, Your Travel Center/Montecito Village Travel says, “I, too, strongly share the above viewpoint with one additional thought. People in travel inherently understand that we are all alike more than we are unalike and that travel widens ones perspective. My personal philosophy has always been that if people traveled more, there would be greater understanding and less war in the world. I think that both Gen Z and Millennials resonate with this belief and understand that this career offers potential to change the world for the better.
The travel industry has always been about education—and education is what is needed to attract new talent to the industry. We need to make the true benefits of the industry known, showcase the potential of the industry and provide the needed tools and education. We need inspire young people about how they can change the world through travel.”