On the move: A new Booking.com study spotlights Gen Z travellers

On the move: A new Booking.com study spotlights Gen Z travellers

by Charley Bowman October 17, 2019
Gen Z on top of hill camping

Loaded with extensive travel data and trend analysis, a sweeping new global study by Booking.com* explores the preferences and needs of the world’s youngest travellers, Gen Z (ages 16-24). Find out why Gen Z is the most adventurous generation of travellers ever to enter the workforce. Could it be because Gen Z would rather spend money on travel than material possessions, and 60% of them consider travel inherently rewarding?

Gen Z is rapidly taking the world by storm. These young people (ages 16-24) were born into a highly digitized society in which affordable long-distance travel has been the norm. Booking.com was curious to find out what makes travel so appealing to this new generation. That’s why it recently conducted a vast global study, surveying around 22,000 respondents in 29 different markets. The data provides valuable insights into how Gen Z travellers view life on the road, and how travel aligns with their values and larger goals in life.

Taking to the skies
The data shows that Gen Z’ers devote lots of time to think about their future travel plans. That means that travel is more appealing and meaningful to these young digital natives than it was to previous generations. Here are some of the key takeaways from the global study:

• Gen Z has an optimistic outlook about travel, with 67% saying they are excited about all the places they plan to visit in the future.

• Around four in ten (39%) plan to have visited at least three different continents over the next ten years, while 30% (34% of women and 26% of men) intend to have studied or lived in a different country. That makes long-distance travel a very real prospect for many members of this generation.

• Gen Z loves to combine travel with adventure, with 56% saying they like to include high-adrenaline activities, such as paragliding or bungee jumping, with their travel plans, and 52% saying they would like to visit or go trekking to an extreme location.

• Importantly, Gen Z sees travel as an ideal opportunity for growth and development. Compared with past generations, they have the greatest desire to enhance their skills by learning something new while traveling in the next ten years (33%).

• Gen Z also sees travel as personally enriching, which means it can help boost their confidence and give them a stronger sense of self. A majority (55%) of Gen Z’ers say that travelling even within their home country helps them to learn and discover more about themselves.

Leaving the comfort zone
To a greater extent than past generations, Gen Z’ers are eager to hit the road and be confronted with the unknown. This young generation’s travel preferences provide an accurate picture of how they view the world around them. Here’s what the data from Booking.com shows:

• Independence is a priority for Gen Z. Over the next ten years, more than one third of Gen Z’ers (34%) plan to have travelled on their own at least once (36% of women and 32% of men).

• Gen Z’s passion to ‘fly solo’ is further revealed with one third (33%) saying they prefer to be alone when they travel (more than any other age group).

Travel as a status symbol
Gen Z is more likely than any previous generation to view travel in general as an inherently rewarding experience. In short, being well-travelled makes young people feel more experienced, better-rounded and more interesting. That means travel is viewed as a prestigious, desirable lifestyle choice, and a sure path to the globetrotter status that many young people today desire.

Consider this insight: Over two thirds (69%) of Gen Z’ers have compiled a travel ‘bucket list’ (a list of places they definitely want to visit during their lifetimes). At 74%, the number is even higher among Gen Z females than it is among Gen Z men (64%). Given this compelling urge to make travel part of their lives, it’s clear that highly skilled, well-educated Gen Z’ers will be more engaged and more attracted to jobs that involve a travel component.

But what are the actual motivators behind Gen Z’s wanderlust? The data reveals five main drivers that compel Gen Z travellers to compile a bucket list of places to visit:

• Daydreaming: Over two fifths (44%) say it’s because they enjoy simply imagining all the places that they’re going to travel to in their lifetime. Even the idea of travel is appealing to them.

• A never-ending list: Nearly one quarter (23%) say they get satisfaction from traveling to places on their bucket list as soon as possible, so they can begin adding more new places. In fact, nearly a third (32%) of Gen Z’ers plan to have checked at least five epic trips off their bucket list in the next ten years.

• Keeping on top of great destinations: Nearly one quarter (23%) say that having a bucket list helps them keep track of amazing places to travel to that they’ve never heard of before.

• Inspired by Insta: 44% have been inspired to make their own adventures by seeing influencers’ trips online. This reinforces the notion of travel as a status symbol which can help them gain prestige and clout among their friends and social media followers.

Having a travel bucket list doesn’t just reveal an intention to travel to new places, it also provides a deeper insight on the generation’s broader travel behaviours. For the 31% of Gen Z who don’t have a bucket list, the reasons also vary:

• 22% feel their preferences change too frequently, so they don’t have a fixed set of places they would like to visit either. But remember, the majority (60%) of Gen Z’ers think that travel is always worthwhile, which means that these 22% are simply more flexible about where a trip might lead them. 

• One in five (20%) say it’s because they don’t like to plan too far in advance, which means they prefer to plan their next adventure on the spur of the moment.

Life is a journey
Gen Z has grown up in a world in which global financial and economic turbulence has become almost the norm. Understanding their attitudes toward spending (specifically how they plan to spend their money over the next five years) is a useful barometer for their overall outlook on life.

Six in ten (60%) Gen Z’ers think that travel is always worth investing in. And when it comes to prioritisation, ‘travel and seeing the world’ ranked as most important to this generation when thinking about how they spend their money (65%). Saving for ‘life’s biggest investment’ (property) came a close second, while, interestingly, more material possessions ranked lowest.

What Gen Z plans to spend money on over the next five years (% of global Gen Z travellers):

Travelling and seeing the world 65%
Saving for a down payment on a house/property 60%
Investing in higher education/professional training 60%
Saving for retirement 51%
Spending money on experiences or products that are environmentally friendly 46%
Saving for wedding/civil partnership 42%
Buying new tech 33%
Buying designer clothes/shoes/accessories 33%

Gen Z prioritises travel
The data from Booking.com reveals that Gen Z’ers would prioritise travel over every other category of spending in their personal lives (see the comparisons below). This is perhaps the clearest indication of how important travel really is to this generation. Here’s a look at how Gen Z’ers prefer to spend their money on travel in comparison to other areas of their lives:  
Travel (79%) vs. Spa/beauty treatments (21%)
Travel (68%) vs. Eating out at restaurants (32%)
Travel (62%) vs. Furniture/homewares (38%)
Travel (60%) vs. Clothes/fashion/shoes (40%)
Travel (58%) vs. Tech/gadgets (42%)

Combining business with pleasure
Another useful insight from the Booking.com study is that Gen Z’ers are very excited about entering the workforce. In fact, 80% of them said that getting a job is the most important life experience on their minds right now. Combine that with the knowledge that Gen Z loves to travel, and you’ve got a winning formula for attracting talented young employees: make business travel part of your recruitment strategy.

The data speaks for itself: according to the study, a majority (54%) of Gen Z’ers say that the opportunity to travel for work is important when selecting a job. Nearly six in ten (57%) say a job where they get to experience other cultures is attractive to them. When you consider that Gen Z prioritises travel even above material possessions, it’s clear that travel would be an attractive addition to any modern job description.

The road ahead
As the first generation of true digital natives takes to the skies, it’s important to remember what makes these young adventurers tick. This is a generation of open-minded, tech-savvy young people who enjoy pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones, whether it’s trekking in the Arctic Circle or backpacking around a foreign continent.

Booking.com takes a data-driven approach to providing Gen Z travellers with the seamless, connected travel experience they expect. With Booking.com, it’s easier than ever to harness the power of technology and data, and offer travellers of all ages a rewarding, safe and unforgettable experience while on the road.

To delve deeper into insights about the Gen Z traveller from Booking.com, visit http://destinationgenz.com/.

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*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample size of 21,807 respondents aged 16 or over (25% of whom were aged 16-24) in 29 markets (including 1,000 each from Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, China, Japan, Brazil, India, US, UK; and 600 each from Russia, Indonesia, Colombia, South Korea, New Zealand, Thailand, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, Croatia, Taiwan, Mexico, Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore and Israel). Fieldwork was undertaken between 1 and 16 May 2019. The survey was carried out online. All research and recruitment, unless otherwise stated, was carried out by Vitreous World, with analysis by Ketchum Analytics.

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