Travel statistics reveal that a customer’s generation can play a significant role in purchase habits. For travel suppliers, understanding the differences in Generation Xers, baby boomers and millennials is key to effective customer segmentation. “It’s clear that age impacts desire and priorities,” says Travel Pulse‘s Patrick Clarke, while admitting there are a “variety of factors” that shape preferences for travel decisions. Regardless, generational differences reveal a great deal about consumer behaviors and how you should adapt to trends in customer behavior.
Per Goldman Sachs, growing up in an era of rapid technological and cultural change has shaped a generation of millennials. Conde Nast Traveler reports that guided by a “virtual backpack of apps,” the youngest generation of travelers are “extremely curious” and willing to take “educated risks” in order to explore the world. Virtuoso travel statistics state 90 percent book travel online, with 87 percent using digital tools to compare options.
Reviews are a major criteria to the youngest travelers, who are likely to rely on apps and share their experiences digitally. A Shullman Research Center study found that 77 percent of millennial travel is for pleasure, which is a little lower than Gen X and boomers. This generation’s preference for authentic experiences and self-guided booking is likely to shape the future. Providing transparent, self-serve booking experiences can meet this generation’s need for autonomy.
Generation X (1965-1980)
Virtuoso reports that Gen Xers spend slightly more on travel than millennials or boomers, with 82 percent booking travel online. Some 71 percent use online travel agencies (OTAs), reviews and apps to make purchase decisions. Seventy-nine percent of Generation X travel is for pleasure, says Shullman, which means they’re less likely to travel for business than millennials, but more likely than baby boomers.
This generation’s purchase power represents 31 percent of total income, according to OpenForum. Travel marketing and technology tailored to this generation should focus on practicality, including their preferences for family-oriented travel, comfortable experiences and the ability to unwind on the road. Create booking experiences that emphasize efficiency, comfort, transparency and value, and you’re more likely to win these customers.
Baby Boomers (1956-1964)
As boomers quickly approach retirement, travel for pleasure is likely a top priority. Shullman writes that 82 percent of boomer travel is pleasure-focused. Per Virtuoso, despite this generation’s relative affluence and fiscal comfort, they spend less than their younger counterparts.
Perhaps most surprisingly, technology adoption among this segment exceeds Generation X. Per Virtuoso, 84 percent of boomers have booked online and 72 percent compare options online with OTAs. Research by Travel Marketing Decisions (TMD) indicates this generation views leisure trips as a “necessity.” By offering seamless, easy-to-use booking experiences and fun-focused offers, travel providers can capitalize on what TMD refers to as this generation’s expectation of “immediate gratification.”
Generation plays a role in shaping traveler research habits and priorities. Understanding what travel statistics reveal about consumer behavior is an important tool when you’re creating customized marketing messages and booking experiences. By optimizing experiences for generations, you can yield significant returns.