Gen Z and millennial travel: The wanderlust generations

Millennials’ love for travel fuels new business opportunities

Millennials and Gen Z's love of travel is fueling new opportunities for technology, media & entertainment, and telecommunications companies. How can marketers leverage these behavior trends to drive growth?

Priorities and aspirations of millennials and Gen Z’s have evolved

The tourism industry has seen phenomenal growth during the last decade. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals reached 1.4 billion in 2018, two years ahead of forecasts.1 Two key factors are driving this trend:

  1. Travel has emerged as one of the top aspirations for younger generations (millennials and Gen Z).
  2. Digital platforms and technologies have made travel more accessible and affordable.

A few savvy technology, media & entertainment, and telecommunications (TMT) companies have capitalized on this trend. How can others join the trip?

The millennial and Gen Z travel trend is largely being driven by their evolving aspirations. Traditional signs of successful adulthood, such as buying homes and starting families, do not rank as the top priorities for these demographic groups.Instead, the “Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019” reveals that “seeing/traveling the world” is their No. 1 aspiration.3

In particular, millennials’ adventurous attitude is unsettling some industries but driving growth for others. Perhaps it’s natural that digital natives are exploring the world through mobile devices, using travel apps and platforms. Millennial travel trend has helped fuel immense growth in businesses like online travel platforms, travel blogs and forums, and tourist information services. Investors are catching on: online travel agencies received private equity/venture capital investments worth $18.7 billion between January 2011 and August 2019.4

Social media platforms have also latched onto this trend. Millennials often travel not only to explore but also express themselves through images and stories. This mix is exactly what social media platforms can offer. As a result, travel services are using social media to advertise and directly connect with millennials. Some of the smaller ones don’t even have a website, relying instead on their social media presence to connect.5 Research shows that millennials are open to receiving deals and offers, provided those offers are relevant. According to Deloitte’s “Digital media trends survey, 13th edition,” nearly half of millennials are willing to provide more personal information in exchange for advertising targeted to their interests.6

TMT companies—particularly consumer-facing ones—can start emulating the success of social media platforms by, for example, including travel-related offerings as part of core products and services targeted at millennials. These could include short-term international roaming data services by telcos or media and entertainment companies enabling millennials to stream their favorite content while traveling internationally.

However, companies should be mindful of privacy and data protection. Although millennials are not averse to targeted advertising, they’re typically more comfortable if they’re able to see and edit the personal or location data that is being collected.7 The key may be to involve them in the process and gain permissions before curating a customized travel deal for them.

This charticle authored by Shashank Srivastava on September 25, 2019.


International Tourist Arrivals Reach 1.4 Billion Two Years Ahead of Forecasts,” UNWTO, January 21, 2019.
Eve Mitchell, “Younger home buyers have taste for amenities,” East Bay Times, March 3, 2006.
The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019,” Deloitte, May 2019.
Deloitte analysis based on investment data extracted from S&P Capital IQ. Period: January 1, 2011 to August 31, 2019.
Eric Rosenbaum, “You’ll be shocked to learn how many small businesses still don’t have a website,” CNBC, May 6, 2019.
Digital media trends survey, 13th edition,” Deloitte, March 2019.

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