Generational challenge: Expedia looks at US traveler trends across Boomers, Gen-X, Y and Z

Expedia has shared the results of a multi-generational travel study, conducted in partnership with The Center for Generational Kinetics which explores the consumer behavior and travel preferences of American adults from Generation Z (18-22) to Baby Boomers (55-56). Expedia surveyed 1,254 US respondents aged 18-65.

The results reveal that consumers—especially younger consumers—value experiences over material goods.

The findings also show that when it comes to planning and booking their trips, all generations prefer to use a single site for all travel and hotel accommodations rather than booking each travel service separately.

  • 80% of US travelers surveyed said they prefer to book all accommodation on a single website.
  • 55% of US travelers said they would consider booking (and 15% would definitely book) an entire trip through an online travel agency (OTA) without visiting any other websites.
  • Half of Gen-Z and 48% of Millennials say they prefer to use an OTA website to book both transportation and accommodations. Most (55%) of Gen-Z and millennials would book the whole trip directly through an OTA without comparison shopping.

Engaging on social media with US consumers will pay off for travel companies.

More than a third of Gen-Z say that they chose a travel destination because they saw it on social media. And many prioritize adventure, more likely to share live streaming of a zip-lining experience than a picture of a new handbag.

Nearly 20% of Gen-Z respondents say they have stayed at a specific hotel or destination expecting to earn likes and positive engagement with their posts on social media.

Wifi access is considered an absolute necessity by a third of Gen-Z travelers and a primary choice driver for accommodations.

Travel and experiences are more valuable than other spending, especially to younger generations.

  • 74% of all US respondents say they would prioritize spending their disposable income on experiences rather than products.
  • 65% of millennials responding to the survey said they are currently earmarking savings for travel, and almost half of millennials said they would sell their clothes or furniture to travel more.
  • 71% of Gen-Z respondents said they would get a part-time job just to save up for a leisure trip.

Long-weekends are the most preferred duration for leisure trips for Millennials, Gen Z and Gen X. Baby Boomers will travel for a week or longer and play their trips far in advance, while Get Z may book within 30 days even just a week before they plan to travel.

  • One in every four millennials have traveled alone on a leisure trip in the past year.
  • 11% of millennials have postponed a breakup because of a previously planned trip with their partner.

Tnooz asked Abhijit Pal, head of research, global partner group at Expedia what this means to travel companies and how these trends might be addressed.

Tnooz: How will these preferences shape the various customer touchpoints?

Pal: Knowing that there is a preference for one-stop-shopping, we help our partners reach and convert consumers who are seeking convenience and options, whether that’s on Expedia points of sale or through our white label solutions. Additionally, with 36% of Gen-Z saying they’ve chosen a destination because they saw it on social media, a robust social media and content strategy should be a consideration for hotels and destinations, to ensure they deliver jaw-dropping content that inspires a lust for travel, on the platforms where consumers are seeking inspiration.

Tnooz: Should offers be formatted in a different way to be more appealing and ensure conversions?

Pal: It’s less about format and more about creating options and convenience for consumers, by surfacing the right inventory to the right traveler at the right time, and on the right platforms and distribution channels. There are a variety of elements that travelers look for when searching for a hotel, for example, and we work with our partners to ensure that we are providing travelers with the most relevant options of hotels in their search results, based on what they are looking for, where they will be and what they have searched for in the past.

Tnooz: What does this mean for travel packages?

Pal: For the travel industry, this means that marketing a package solution aligns with what consumers are seeking in growing numbers, and that’s great news for the industry. We also offer a best-in-class white label package booking engine that allows travelers to book their accommodations and flight on a hotel site. By opening the package technology up to our partners, as we’ve done with Vacations by Marriott, we are providing a new acquisition channel for brands.

Tnooz: What does this mean for the bookings platform? For example, will Gen Z gravitate away from mobile and more towards voice, expecting a quick package based on an experiential prompt?

Pal: Expedia consumers already book on mobile, with 45% of’s global transactions happening on mobile devices, and 55% of its traffic coming from mobile devices, as an example. While the industry continues to focus on mobile, we have been keenly focused on new technologies and believe that voice will be the industry’s biggest tech disruptor and a burgeoning way that consumers — especially younger consumers like Gen-Z, will explore and book travel in the future. Voice will allow consumers to quickly search, book and pay for a hotel booking, in a highly intuitive way.

Tnooz: How might OTAs and other travel services stakeholders accommodate requests like: “Alexa, I want to have an awesome birthday party on the beach”?

Pal: Expedia has been setting the groundwork to move quickly on new innovations — like voice search — for years.  Our Expedia Skill with Amazon Alexa is a voice-activated way for consumers to easily manage and hear the details of upcoming trips purchased on, including flight info, hotel reservations, car rental. As we continue to evolve this technology, voice queries will become easier and more seamless and unleash new travel possibilities. So, in the future, a sample response to that question might be, “Have you considered Maui, Cabo, or Miami Beach?”

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