Generation Z, more commonly known as “Gen Z” or “zoomers,” is the younger demographic cohort that comes after the Millennials. According to Pew Research, this demographic consists of people born between 1997 and 2012, so most Gen Zers are currently in their late teens and early twenties.
Travel-savvy and adventurous, the Gen Z cohort is known to desire authenticity, independence, and cultural diversity. Compared to previous generations, they display high self-reliance and are used to finding what they need on their own. These characteristics reflect the travel trends of Gen Z and the type of lodging and experiences they value most.
The underlying trend among Gen Z is to have real and engaged travel experiences, both far and wide. Data by Collage Group indicates that more than half of zoomers state they have a “strong urge” to travel the world. With an emphasis on excitement and exploration over rest and relaxation, zoomers are beginning to favor Airbnbs and unique lodging experiences over traditional hotel chains.
With a breadth of options, popular travel destinations may no longer be the main hubs for tourism as they once were. And for hoteliers, adapting to these trends and accommodating the interests of Gen Zers will be an inevitability. As food for thought, these eight Gen Z travel trends will be important considerations for any business in hospitality.
1. Ethical Travel is Key
Gen Z travelers are passionate about ethical travel, which means they prioritize low-impact lodging and engage in activities that have a positive influence on local communities, economies, and the environment. Zoomers are mindful of their impact on the places they visit and are likely to choose accommodations and travel agencies that promote responsible tourism.
Gen Z’s travel trends highlight the increasing awareness and commitment of zoomers to social and environmental issues. According to the Collage Group’s study mentioned above, Gen Z is more enthusiastic about international travel than preceding generations. So, they’re more likely to choose remote destinations that have a low carbon footprint over traditional vacation resorts preferred by boomers and millennials.
2. Focus on Sustainability
Piggybacking on ethical travel priorities, sustainability is another important factor that Gen Z travelers take into consideration when planning their next getaway. As part of their interest in unique and explorative experiences, zoomers generally prefer eco-friendly destinations and accommodations that are conscious of their environmental footprint.
Gen Z travelers value responsible and sustainable hotel practices, including minimizing waste and using renewable energy whenever possible. They’re more likely to support immersive transportation methods like rail and community bus systems, and they’re not afraid to walk or ride a bike to get around.
3. Supporting Local Communities
Gen Z travelers are interested in immersing themselves in local communities and understanding their culture. They’re keen on enjoying authentic and unique stays such as family-run hotels, restaurants, and shops, as opposed to large chains.
Based on the Collage Group’s findings, 73 percent of Gen Zers choose travel destinations based on the food served in those communities. This trend demonstrates the desire of Gen Z travelers to have meaningful and authentic experiences while supporting the local economy.
4. Exploration Beyond Hotel Walls
As a digitally-native generation, Gen Z is attuned to virtual traveling through Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. If they’re keen on a particular destination, they can sift through a myriad of images and videos captured by people who’ve already been there.
Because of this, the travel trends of Gen Z involve exploring the unexplored. They want to find truly unique places that haven’t been popularized by influencers or inundated with thousands of hashtags. In other words, they value meaningful experiences over material possessions, and they seek untapped travel opportunities that aren’t found in tourist guides.
5. Acceptance of Non-Traditional Hotels
Traditional hotel experiences are often low on the list of desired accommodations for Gen Z travelers. This coincides with their interest in adventure-seeking travel experiences and unconventional destinations, as well as a desire to explore versus relax when planning a vacation.
So while there might be plenty of hotel options off the beaten path, they don’t have nearly as wide a reach as non-traditional vacation rentals, like a mountainside Yurt or coastal VRBO. In turn, Gen Zers are open to alternative forms of accommodations, like hostels, Airbnb, glamping, and RVs. These options offer unique and authentic experiences that traditional hotels struggle to match.
6. Budget-Conscious Options
According to Investopedia’s Financial Literacy Study, over 80 percent of Gen Zers claim to be either confident or somewhat confident in their financial knowledge. With so many sources for information — podcasts, YouTube, TikTok, etc. — zoomers are more financially inclined to invest and budget their money, especially when it comes to discretionary spending.
This heightened state of budget consciousness is reflected in Gen Z travelers as well. Instead of lavish all-inclusive resorts, they seek affordable options that provide experiential value for their hard-earned money. In addition to lodging, this translates into how zoomers travel – from the airlines they choose to the local transportation methods they seek. This travel trend underscores the increasing importance of the financial considerations of Gen Z travelers.
7. Keep Work at Home
Unlike boomers and millennials who have been known to combine work and pleasure while traveling (or “bleisure“), Gen Z travelers prefer to keep their work life separate from their travel experiences. They value the opportunity to disconnect and fully immerse themselves while traveling, leaving their laptops behind.
As a demographic that’s deeply steeped in the gig economy, this Gen Z travel trend comes as a surprise to many who’d expect the opposite. But considering that zoomers have grown up with the Internet as a major presence in their lives, it makes sense why they would distance themselves from any semblance of a Slack channel or Zoom call while exploring the world away from home.
8. High Expectations for Technology
Despite a strong desire to disconnect from work while traveling for leisure, Gen Zers are among the most tech-savvy cohorts next to millennials. They have high expectations when it comes to basic technologies that make their travel experience more connected.
With a strong and secure WiFi connection often as a benchmark requirement while traveling, Gen Z travelers also expect high-tech options when planning and booking their getaways. They value hospitality features like online booking, mobile check-ins, and digital concierge services, and they prefer a frictionless, streamlined experience that allows them to rely on their own independence.
For hoteliers and hospitality businesses, adapting to the travel trends of Gen Z calls for critical consideration and strategic ideation. While drastic overhauls may be long-term ideas, there are more immediate gains that hotels can capitalize on to better accommodate Gen Z guests, such as secure hotel WiFi, mobile check-ins, and other tech-centric solutions. To learn more, contact Blueprint RF.