Generation Z also known as Gen Z, iGen, or centennials, refers to the generation that was born roughly between 1996-2010, following millennial’s. This generation has been raised on the internet and social media, with some the oldest finishing college by 2020 and preparing to enter the workforce.
Soon these graduates will have autonomy over their own income and be looking to invest it in experiences and travel. So it’s worth keeping this on your radar and getting prepared for the influx of new explorers!
As the new decade progresses, Gen Z will dominate the travel industry. According to Business Insider Intelligence, they will soon become the largest cohort of consumers. The hospitality industry should be turning their attention to this upcoming generation and how their attitudes and values differ from the millennial’s before them.
So what can we expect from Generation Z when it comes to trip planning and what will be at the forefront for them when it comes to decision making?
Research shows a clear shift between millennial’s and Gen Z with things like technology and sustainability being at the forefront when it comes to planning travel.
The oldest person in the Gen Z Generation is only 22! While they have barely reached their earning potential, the interest and more so the importance around sustainability and environmental awareness will continue to grow. It will become a ‘need to have’ for hotels not just a ‘nice to have’.
“73% of Gen-Z travelers across US, UK, China, India and Australia agree it is important to choose travel businesses that prioritize environmentally sustainable practices.” Source: Skift Research, Millennial and Gen Z Traveler Survey 2019: A Multi-Country Comparison Report Data as of August 2019.
Being environmentally conscious is more than just a trend – it’s a global effort in which hospitality plays a critical role. And while we’re all working to reduce our carbon footprint, hotels should be working towards a more sustainable future. Making adjustments to things like plastic toiletries and key cards is a big step forward – swapping them for a more Eco-friendly option will show guests you’re making a conscious effort for change.
According to a global online study from Nielsen, 66% of respondents said they’re willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact. Younger generations share this sentiment at an even higher rate, as almost 75% of Millennial’s and Gen Z said they would be willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings, up from around 50% in 2014.
Technology and Personalization
In Skift’s 2020 Megatrends report,Cassandra Napoli, associate editor and generational trend expert for WGSN Insight explains that “members of Gen Z are digital natives, have depleting attention spans,desire personalization, and have a love-hate relationship with connectivity, which makes them stand apart from millennial’s.”
The tech-savvy generation will expect a seamless journey from start to finish – including a streamlined booking journey, personalized to their individual needs and interests. It’s important to remember that these teens and young adults can spend up to 10 hours a day online, using apps like Netflix, Amazon and YouTube where products and suggestions have been tailored to them based on data and interests.
When it comes to hospitality, they will expect nothing less. To keep up with this digital-first generation, the hospitality industry needs to get ahead of the curve and be ready to offer personalized experiences and adventures, at the touch of a button.
The key to success is connectivity – mobile first content and fast-wifi will be crucial to win over Gen Z when they’re browsing to book online. Generation Z expect wifi to be freely available and easily accessible! The Priceline Generation Travel Index revealed that more than eight in ten Americans (82 percent) expect WiFi to be free when they travel, within a hotel in particular.
WiFi tops the list of hotel amenities that American travellers would be least willing to pay for. The younger the respondent, the less willing they are to pay. Four in ten Gen Z and Millennial respondents cite WiFi as their least-preferred travel fee.
As a young millennial myself, on the cusp of Gen Z, I’ve grown to expect free wifi when staying at a hotel. When booking a two-week all-inclusive holiday last year, I deterred from an incredible hotel with a wildlife sanctuary on site, simply because they charged a daily rate to use their wifi. It’s vital for hotels to keep up with what’s important to the younger generations coming through.
Social Media #Influenced
Gen Z were the first age group to be raised entirely online, a fact that’s reflected in their relationship to social media. Nearly one in two Americans (48 percent) Gen Z respondents in Priceline Generation Travel Index report that photos posted to social media inspire them to travel, the most among all age groups.
They are a generation influenced by Micro-Influencers, whose opinions they trust. While celebs and big influencers often portray lavish lifestyles and luxury holidays, the smaller influencers offer a more relatable and accessible lifestyle. Having a hotel or destination plugged and recommended by these Micro-influencers could quickly turn engagement into bookings.
The report also shows that they’re the generation most likely to feel “pressure” to “post the perfect photo” while on holiday – a burden cited by nearly one in three Gen Z. However, ‘Instagrammable’ locations will make you stand out from the crowd and are more likely to attract young people if your Geo-tag is filled with posed-selfies at your hotspot!
It’s not just the perfect backdrop that will get (physical) traffic coming to your hotel, bar/ restaurant, it’s also your food and drink offerings! Think flaming cotton candy and the picture perfect brunch!
According to a study by Maru/Matchbox, 69 percent of millennial’s take a photo (or a video) of their food before eating. Get your business on the map by tapping into the simplicity of presentation. Take inspiration from restaurants like Sketch, known as London’s most ‘Instagram-worthy restaurant’ with it’s iconic pink décor.
Social media is a powerful tool – so when it comes to reaching that younger audience, it’s vital to have a strong social media strategy. Gen Z expects brands to have an online presence across all platforms, predominantly through strong imagery and engaging video content – so aim to be active, engaging and of course, fun!
Tapping into the next generation’s mindset will require a new way of thinking, the key to getting ahead of the curve is through technology, sustainability, personaliszation and of course, social media.