Generational comparisons of European travellers across four distinct groups – Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers – are revealed today in a new study.
The research by Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising arm of the Expedia, examines attitudes toward travel, trip types and priorities, resources and influences, and devices used throughout the trip planning process.
While budget is a primary factor and 86% of Europeans claim to look for the best deals, when asked to prioritise how they choose a holiday, activities and experiences far outranked deals and special offers.
The findings show that Europeans take an average of 3.7 trips a year, including leisure and business travel, and their last holiday was 9.3 days in duration.
French travellers took the most total trips (3.9), for the longest duration (10.2 days) compared to British and Germans.
The majority (65%) of Europeans travel outside their country on holiday, especially Germans (72%), and about 60% fly and stay in a hotel.
Expedia Media Solutions senior director Andrew van der Feltz said: “Europeans are well-known for their passion for travel, and this study illustrates variances in digital traveller behaviours, priorities, attitudes and influences across the countries and generations we examined.
“The data provides actionable insights to help marketers more effectively reach, engage and convert travellers from different markets and age groups, and validates the notion that one-size-fits-all advertising does not apply to travel.”
Generation Z Travellers: Open-minded, mobile and influenced by advertising
As one of the most budget-conscious generations in Europe, Gen Z is more likely to start the research and planning process without a set destination in mind, rely on their smartphones when looking for travel inspiration and have an all-or-nothing approach to travel activities.
They are influenced by deals and appealing imagery on social media and in advertising, so marketers looking to inspire and convert Gen Z travellers must implement a visually-compelling and integrated cross-device marketing strategy.
• Nearly 80% of Gen Z said either they don’t have a destination in mind or are deciding between two destinations when they first decide to take a trip.
• Nearly 80% said budget was a primary factor when researching and booking their last trip, and allocated more for flights than the other generations.
• While 72% said taking risks and crossing things off their bucket list is imperative, 60% are interested in trips that offer naps on the beach and all-day relaxation.
• Although activities and experiences are high on their priority list, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and destinations where they can take memorable pictures and vacation with friends are important considerations for Gen Z, significantly more so than other generations.
• Compared to other generations, Gen Z use their smartphones more than other devices when they’re looking for travel inspiration (63%) and while on holiday (76%).
• More than half of Gen Z travellers (53%) said adverts with appealing deals or appealing imagery can influence their decision-making process.
Millennial travellers: Frequent, deal-driven explorers
Millennials travel more frequently than other generations and while nearly 90% say they look for the best deals, they have a broad range of interests, focusing on exploring the outdoors, cultural experiences, family play trips and romantic getaways.
Travel marketers can highlight local culture, experiences and cuisine, as well as discounts and deals, when targeting Millennials.
• Millennials take more trips per year than other generations (4.3), but their trips are the shortest in duration – only 8.5 days on average.
• Only 23% of Millennials have a destination in mind when they decide to take a trip, and nearly 80% said informative content from destinations or travel brands can influence their decision, while 37% said they are influenced by blogs or articles about travel destinations.
• Millennials are most likely to opt for “off the beaten path” locations or recommendations from locals (69%), as well as all-inclusive resorts and cruises (59%). Nearly half also plan their travel around food and drink, showing their interests in a wide variety of travel experiences and destinations.
• Prior to making a decision, nearly 80% of Millennials said they look for a deal and 84% read reviews, while more than 70% said they talk to people who have visited the place before.
• Search engines (51%), online travel agencies (48%) and travel review sites (38%) were the top online planning resources for Millennials, while 51% used an OTA to book their last trip.
Gen X Travellers: Family-oriented, affinity for outdoor activities
Gen X are family-oriented and more likely than other generations to use reviews and informative content from brands while researching and booking a trip.
While less Gen X travellers say that budget is a primary factor than younger generations, they still prioritise deals and look for value.
Feeling like they are getting the most bang for their buck may be key to converting Gen X travellers, so marketers should consider highlighting value-driven messaging and informative reviews to influence this generation during the purchase journey.
• Less than 30% of Gen X have already decided on a destination when they decide to take a trip and 55% need some help and inspiration when they start planning a trip.
• Nearly 70% of Gen X travellers said that every holiday is family-oriented and focused on keeping their family entertained and happy, while more than 65% said they prefer to fill their itinerary with museums, historical sites, and arts and culture.
• More than 60% said budget was a primary factor on their last trip, but more so than other generations, they prioritised deals or special offers as important considerations when choosing a holiday. While less interested than other generations in a once in a lifetime experience, Gen X travellers are likely to prioritize outdoor activities.
• Eighty-five per cent read reviews of places they want to visit before making a decision, and 80% said that informative content from brands or destinations can influence their decision-making process.
• Gen X rely heavily on OTAs (51%), travel review sites (41%) and search engines (49%) when planning a trip – and 52% used an OTA to book their last trip.
Boomer Travellers: Review Readers, OTA aficionados
While Boomers are more likely than other generations to know where they want to go and how they are going to book when they decide to take a trip, they still seek help and inspiration during the planning and booking process.
Given that fewer Boomers said budget was a primary factor when planning their last trip, marketers looking to inspire and engage Boomers should focus on informative content like reviews and local activities in advertising, with less emphasis on deals.
• At 10.5 days per vacation, Boomers take the longest trips, and only 54% said budget was a primary factor on their last trip.
• Only 46% of Boomers said crossing things off their bucket list was imperative, 15% less than Gen X travellers. Trip activities, cultural experiences and feeling pampered during their vacation topped the priority list for Boomers.
• When planning their last trip, Boomers relied on OTAs more than any other resource (54%) and 20% used a destination site; half also booked their last trip using an OTA.
• When it comes to advertising’s influence on the decision-making process, Boomers value informative content (49%) and helpful reviews (31%), and they are less likely than other generations to be influenced by deals in ads.
• Computers are the preferred device during the pre-trip inspiration, planning and booking phases, but 26% used their tablet during their trip, more than any other generation, and 54% used a smartphone.