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New study unveils European multi-generational digital travel trends


A new study commissioned by Expedia Media Solutions and conducted by Northstar Research Partners, explores the motives and behaviors of British, French and German travelers across multiple generations as they research, plan and book trips online.

Multi-Generational Travel Trends highlights generational comparisons of European travelers across four distinct groups—Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers—and examines attitudes toward travel, trip types and priorities, resources and influences, and devices used throughout the trip planning process.

“Europeans are well-known for their passion for travel, and this study illustrates variances in digital traveler behaviors, priorities, attitudes and influences across the countries and generations we examined,” said Andrew van der Feltz, Senior Director, EMEA & APAC for Expedia Media Solutions. “The data provides actionable insights to help marketers more effectively reach, engage and convert travelers from different markets and age groups, and validates the notion that one-size-fits-all advertising does not apply to travel.”

On average, Europeans take 3.7 trips per year, including leisure and business travel, and their last vacation was 9.3 days in duration. French travelers took the most total trips (3.9), for the longest duration (10.2 days) compared to British and Germans. The majority (65 percent) of Europeans travel outside their country on holiday, especially Germans (72 percent), and about 60 percent travel by plane and stay in a hotel. While budget is a primary factor and 86 percent of Europeans claim to look for the best deals, when asked to prioritize how they choose a holiday, activities and experiences far outranked deals and special offers.

Generation Z Travelers: Open-Minded, Mobile and Influenced by Advertising

As one of the most budget-conscious generations in Europe, Gen Z is more likely to start the research and planning process without a set destination in mind, rely on their smartphones when looking for travel inspiration and have an all-or-nothing approach to travel activities. They are influenced by deals and appealing imagery on social media and in advertising, so marketers looking to inspire and convert Gen Z travelers must implement a visually-compelling and integrated cross-device marketing strategy.

• Nearly 80 percent of Gen Z said either they don’t have a destination in mind or are deciding between two destinations when they first decide to take a trip.

• Nearly 80 percent said budget was a primary factor when researching and booking their last trip, and allocated more for flights than the other generations.

• While 72 percent said taking risks and crossing things off their bucket list is imperative, 60 percent are interested in trips that offer naps on the beach and all-day relaxation.

• Although activities and experiences are high on their priority list, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and destinations where they can take memorable pictures and vacation with friends are important considerations for Gen Z, significantly more so than other generations.

• Compared to other generations, Gen Z use their smartphones more than other devices when they’re looking for travel inspiration (63 percent) and while on their vacation (76 percent).

• More than half of Gen Z travelers (53 percent) said advertisements with appealing deals or appealing imagery can influence their decision-making process.

Millennial Travelers: Frequent, Deal-Driven Explorers

Millennials travel more frequently than other generations and while nearly 90 percent say they look for the best deals, they have a broad range of interests, focusing on exploring the outdoors, cultural experiences, family play trips and romantic getaways. Travel marketers can highlight local culture, experiences and cuisine, as well as discounts and deals, when targeting Millennials.

• Millennials take more trips per year than other generations (4.3), but their trips are the shortest in duration – only 8.5 days on average.

• Only 23 percent of Millennials have a destination in mind when they decide to take a trip, and nearly 80 percent said informative content from destinations or travel brands can influence their decision, while 37 percent said they are influenced by blogs or articles about travel destinations.

• Millennials are most likely to opt for “off the beaten path” locations or recommendations from locals (69 percent), as well as all-inclusive resorts and cruises (59 percent). Nearly 50 percent also plan their travel around food and drink, showing their interests in a wide variety of travel experiences and destinations.

• Prior to making a decision, nearly 80 percent of Millennials said they look for a deal and 84 percent read reviews, while more than 70 percent said they talk to people who have visited the place before.

• Search engines (51 percent), online travel agencies (OTAs) (48 percent) and travel review sites (38 percent) were the top online planning resources for millennials, while 51 percent used an OTA to book their last trip.

Gen X Travelers: Family-oriented, Affinity for Outdoor Activities

Gen X are family-oriented and more likely than other generations to use reviews and informative content from brands while researching and booking a trip. While less Gen X travelers say that budget is a primary factor than younger generations, they still prioritize deals and look for value. Feeling like they’re getting the most bang for their buck may be key to converting Gen X travelers, so marketers should consider highlighting value-driven messaging and informative reviews to influence this generation during the purchase journey.

• Less than 30 percent of Gen X have already decided on a destination when they decide to take a trip and 55 percent said they need some help and inspiration when they start planning a trip.

• Nearly 70 percent of Gen X travelers said that every vacation is family-oriented and focused on keeping their family entertained and happy, while more than 65 percent said they prefer to fill their itinerary with museums, historical sites, and arts and culture.

• More than 60 percent said budget was a primary factor on their last trip, but more so than other generations, they prioritized deals or special offers as important considerations when choosing a holiday. While less interested than other generations in a once in a lifetime experience, Gen X travelers are likely to prioritize outdoor activities.

• Eighty-five percent read reviews of places they want to visit before making a decision, and 80 percent said that informative content from brands or destinations can influence their decision-making process.

• Gen X rely heavily on OTAs (51 percent), travel review sites (41 percent) and search engines (49 percent) when planning a trip – and 52 percent used an OTA to book their last trip.

Boomer Travelers: Review Readers, OTA Aficionados

While Boomers are more likely than other generations to know where they want to go and how they’re going to book when they decide to take a trip, they still seek help and inspiration during the planning and booking process. Given that fewer Boomers said budget was a primary factor when planning their last trip, marketers looking to inspire and engage Boomers should focus on informative content like reviews and local activities in advertising, with less emphasis on deals.

• At 10.5 days per vacation, Boomers take the longest trips, and only 54 percent said budget was a primary factor on their last trip.

• Only 46 percent of Boomers said crossing things off their bucket list was imperative, 15 percent less than Gen X travelers. Trip activities, cultural experiences and feeling pampered during their vacation topped the priority list for Boomers.

• When planning their last trip, Boomers relied on OTAs more than any other resource (54 percent) and 20 percent used a destination site; half of boomers also booked their last trip using an OTA.

• When it comes to advertising’s influence on the decision-making process, Boomers value informative content (49 percent) and helpful reviews (31 percent), and they are less likely than other generations to be influenced by deals in ads.

• Computers are the preferred device during the pre-trip inspiration, planning and booking phases, but 26 percent of Boomers used their tablet during their trip, more than any other generation, and 54 percent used a smartphone.

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About the author

Chief Assignment Editor

Chief Assignment editor is OlegSziakov