The travel industry needs to be fully informed on the demographic nuances and rapid lifestyle changes underway across the generations as young people embrace a world dominated by digital and mobile.
A new convergence is emerging between young Asian and western tourists’ travel expectations and consumption patterns.
Digital and mobile are creating a shared generational experience, most notably in Generation Z, people born in the late 1990s, according to a report compiled by MyTravel Research.com for the Pacific Asia Travel Association.
Young Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Indian travellers share as much in common with their western counterparts as they do with their parents, the study suggests.
The digital natives of Generation Z are ‘technoholics,’ entirely dependent on IT, with limited grasp of alternatives, says the report.
They are career multi-taskers often in part time ‘portfolio’ jobs. They aspire to security and stability. They crowd source solutions to tasks. They want to make a difference. They are relatively dependent on their parents – and quite happy to be so. They have had a smartphone in their hands since they can remember.
Report author Carolyn Childs, co-founder of the travel research firm, said: “They tend to see the internet as an extension of their self.
“Their expectation is that all interactions both online and offline will be smooth, quick and easy. Their attention span is shaped by Snapchat.
“Whereas Generation Y – Millennials born 1981-1995 – seek constant feedback, Generation Z seeks constant dialogue – think instant messaging, WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Kik.
“The internet’s ability to deliver engaging content is impacting east and west in similar ways – as are some of the broad macro-trends.”
Generation Z feels a sense of responsibility for the planet and a strong sense of ethics.
“They expect to understand what you stand for and how you do things,” said Childs. “Growing up for many means living with their parents. They share ideas for holidays with their parents as well as their friends.”
Another key change to understand is the blurring of the boundaries between generations.
“There is a growing recognition that demographics are not destiny. Many destinations now look at their target audiences through psychographic or needs-based profiling, rather than demographics,” said Childs.
“There are major demographic challenges facing destination marketing organisations. They need to be fully informed on the demographic nuances and rapid lifestyle changes underway across the generations.”
Strong lifestyle generational changes across all demographics and identifiable life stages create opportunities and challenges for tourism businesses, especially those that target specific generations.
Do they change with their audience or do they focus on the next generation?
Baby Boomers – born 1945-60 – in the west is a large, affluent and time-rich demographic. They expect the world to change around them and will embrace it as it does.
What they won’t put up with is stereotyping or out of date images. They want to see themselves as they feel, not as we see them. Marketers who fail to appreciate this will be punished, Childs argued.