Unlocking the Gen Z Travel Mindset: Affordable, Safe & Unforgettable Experiences

Unlocking the Gen Z Travel Mindset: Affordable, Safe & Unforgettable Experiences

It’s no wonder Gen Z is seeking travel experiences in droves. In their lifetime, this digital generation has witnessed and experienced global upheaval, a pandemic that kept us all close to home, countless natural disasters and mental health and isolation issues – the list goes on and on.

For decades, vacation meant a predictable family trip to the same beach or mountain town year after year. Gen Z, however, even while on this annual family trek, has been wandering the globe via social media, swiping through beautiful images of far-flung exotic destinations and unique experiences. These FOMO-inducing scrolls online have left the generation wanting to forge their own new path.

These young travelers aspire to more than a typical beach trip: they are seeking Instagram post-worthy, exclusive, experiential excursions. Gen Z are also the most interested in traveling abroad, more so than the millennial and Gen X generations. What’s more, they are looking to only support hospitality companies that align with their values, including supporting diversity and inclusion, carbon-friendly footprints and investment in local communities.

At Hilton Grand Vacations, we’ve seen this shift in travel preferences among younger generations, some of whom are also beginning to have their own families. They are seeking vacations that offer them space to spread out and provide access to unforgettable and unique experiences in destinations they’ve never traveled to before.

In a recent survey, 76 percent of Gen Z and millennial respondents said the thought of relaxing on vacation makes them happy, though most also responded they want to explore the destination. Two in three young Americans also noted they are preparing for their busiest summer ever this year and the majority are planning to RSVP to almost every plan they are invited to this season. Companies must ensure that they are offering services and experiences that appeal to Gen Z, or you risk losing out on this jet setting generation that is looking to travel more than ever this year.

Here are four ways travel companies can cater to the demands of Gen Z guests:

Offer packages or amenities that enable cost-sharing options. Gen Z is just now entering the workplace and beginning to gather wealth. Traveling in groups allows them to pool their money to save on costs – like sharing a vacation villa or spacious resort room – so they can afford unique experiences like mountain hiking, surfing, boating, winery tours and more – the list is endless. Rather than each traveler piecing together a la carte excursions options from local vendors, companies should build local offerings into resort packages as a way to grow the local economy and a healthy relationship with the community. Travel experiences will be authentic and reflect social responsibility, both of which are important to Gen Z.

Provide safe travel experiences and peace of mind, which are key priorities of Gen Z.
 This is not always the case when booking rentals online via the shared travel economy. Vacation companies must be as transparent as possible, providing the locations of and details about properties in advance, so travelers are confident the accommodations and services selected are as advertised. It’s also key to offer advantages in the booking process such as guaranteeing reservations with no surprise cancellations.

Offer cuisine guides to ensure authentic local experiences. Gen Z enjoys buying and cooking meals together. What better way to experience a culture than to visit an outdoor market and ask vendors to help select the ingredients for an authentic dinner. Today’s young foodies are all about preparing and eating fresh, healthy and organic meals. Steer travelers to local farmers when possible and explore providing upscale kitchens stocked with premium cookware and knives, as well as high-end small appliances like espresso machines and blenders.

Create unique moments for Gen Z to share online with their networks. This generation sees travel as a status symbol. They are the new “jet setters” and accommodations like timeshares open the door to multiple, diverse global locations. At each property, create a trail of Instagram-able photo and video opportunities. Gen Z is all about sharing enviable and unique experiences on social media, which can only help the hospitality industry.

Growing Gen Z consumer loyalty and keeping it will require increased investment and expansion of services that can be adapted as they grow older, build wealth and careers and expand their own families. That annual summer vacation to the same tired destination will soon transform into a meeting of families and friends in the South of France one year and The Galapagos Islands the next.

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