Marketing to the Next Generation of Traveler
By Jerry McConway
Wednesday, 25th September 2019

Yes, it is time to start talking about marketing to Generation Z, as they will be one of the two dominant demographics in the travel industry for the next couple of decades, along with millennials.

Like millennials, this group of travel will be technologically driven, but there are going to be some subtle differences you can take advantage of in your marketing efforts.

Breaking Down the Generations

Baby Boomers – most of our parents were part of the baby boomer generation. Ranging in ages from 60-80, this group of travelers only makes up a small percentage of everyday travelers now. This is a generation that thrived on traditional advertising, but just as their generation is fading out, so is that method of communicating with guests.

Gen X – my guess is that most of you reading this right now are in the Gen X population. If you were born between 1960 and 1979, this is you. This generation probably relies on traditional marketing as much as it does more modern techniques. However, because many upper-level managers in the hospitality industry fall into this generation, there can be some pushback into making the transitions needed.

Gen Y – otherwise known as millennials. This group has singlehandedly changed the way we market not only in the hospitality industry but in EVERY industry.

Gen Z – born between 1995 and 2010, the early members of this generation are now very much a part of our target demographic. While also very technologically oriented, this generation also has some unique personality traits that differentiate it from millennials that demand you create very specific campaigns to lure in this demographic.

Marketing to Generation Z

One of the most important factors to look at when marketing to Gen Z is the fact this is another generation that does not mind traveling alone, with some recent travel surveys showing a significant percentage prefer to travel alone.

Budget-minded – because this group of travelers is going to have less expendable income, they are going to want the most value for their dollar. This does not mean they won’t spend money on travel, because this generation seems to relish travel, but they want to get perceived value for their money. You can take advantage of this by offering specials, such as a free breakfast or airport shuttle, that will provide that perceived value to them.

Communicators – this generation is known to overcommunicate, which means they will be active online when booking their travel arrangements. This will impact both your online reputation as well as how you try to attract these individuals via social media. This generation will put a significant emphasis on reviews, so they need to be both solicited and managed properly. In terms of social media posting, you will need to feature pictures and posts of activities that can be enjoyed by a single person, but not necessarily an unsociable traveler. For instance, if there is a local bar crawl coming up, it would surely be attractive to this demographic.

Safety – this one is self-explanatory. As a solo traveler, especially female travelers, safety will be of utmost importance. Safety information should be readily available on the website and touted via OTA sites and very subtly on social media.

Create an Experience – where millennials and Gen Z separate themselves from Boomers and Gen X is in how they view the hotel room itself. For us older folks, a hotel is generally nothing more than a place to lie our head at night. The latest two generations of traveler look at the overall experience of the property much more critically than previous generations. Point being, create something unique about the experience other hotels cannot match. Inject some local flare when possible and well as promoting local attractions, such as paragliding or mudder events taking place in the area.

Location – if your hotel is not “conveniently” located to local attractions, restaurants, and nightlife, it can be a challenge, but it is one that can be overcome. Providing shuttle service to these areas is an obvious solution to overcome this challenge. If that is not an option, you can also offer very specific information about travel costs using shared ride services like Uber to those destinations, especially when those costs combined with room rate are less than the competition in the area is offering.

Going Green – the environment is a HUGE deal to this generation, so having an eco-friendly hotel will be a significant factor in attracting Gen Z travelers. While you will not be able to turn the hotel “green” overnight, you should promote any green initiatives that are already in place or planned by the hotel on your online profiles as well as your social media posts.

Instagram – Even more than millennials, this generation uses Instagram more than virtually any other social media platform. You will not only want to create ads specifically for Instagram, but you will also want to create possible “Instagram moments” in your hotel. By this I mean create areas in the hotel that are “selfie-worthy” that will encourage your guests to take a picture and post it on their accounts.

Is your hotel marketing team missing the mark with the next generation of travelers? If the local talent pool keeps disappointing you, it’s time to call JDI. Joseph David International is consistently rated as one of the top hospitality recruiters because we work hard to find the ideal candidate specifically for your needs. If you would like to learn more about our hotel recruiting services, please click here.

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