StudentUniverse, a Flight Centre Travel Group company, has released its annual The State of Student & Youth Travel Report delving into the latest travel sentiments amongst those aged 18-25. The report reveals some interesting trends among Gen Z travelers including how TikTok can influence travel decisions, a preference for taking “dry vacations” and a concern for the environment that is driving some to actively choose to abstain from traveling by air.
“This is the second year that we’ve prepared this report and it’s interesting to see how year-over-year the difference in this generation’s travel sentiment shows significant shifts with regards to how they find travel inspiration and what concerns them most,” said Will Jones, brand manager, StudentUniverse. “These travelers represent a quarter of international travel arrivals and provide great value to the travel industry, so it is our goal with these reports to help provide valuable insights on the trends and sentiments that drive Gen Z travelers.”
Turning to TikTok for travel inspiration
Of those surveyed, 88% revealed they are active on TikTok and 60% reported they turn to the platform as their first choice for travel inspiration. Furthermore, 88% follow at least one travel influencer, with 40% reporting they’ve booked a vacation as a direct result of content seen on TikTok. This is a significant impact when one considers that the student & youth travel market numbers 370 million globally and accounts for more than $400 billion in buying power.
Looking at travel as an investment into one’s career
One of the most talked about trends in travel that arose as a result of flexible work policies implemented during the pandemic was that of bleisure. Though while those who are in the workforce might be looking at opportunities to blend work and leisure travel, younger generations which have not yet entered the workforce or are recently employed have instead started looking at travel as not just an opportunity to vacation, but to also lay the groundwork for their career by taking advantage of vocational opportunities. Of those surveyed, 78% indicated an interest in vocational travel and 87% believe that travel would improve their employability. Furthermore, 86% noted they would work or volunteer on something related to their future career path. Respondents provided feedback noting that travel helps to improve abilities such as interpersonal communication and provides a broadened understanding of how to liaise with people of different cultures. These are values that Gen Z believe make them more employable.
Looking for a “dry vacation”
To this day young travelers are still associated with images of raucous spring breakers packed into cheap bars. However, as with the trend of traveling for one’s mental well-being, today’s young traveler is more focused on overall wellness. As Gen Z looks to make healthier choices, it should come as no surprise that 80% of respondents indicated they would take a vacation with no alcohol involved. In addition to improved health, survey respondents noted that abstaining from drinking has several benefits including cost savings and preventing potentially unsafe situations.
Joining the “no-fly” list
A notable development in this year’s report is the revelation that Gen Z’s concerns over the environment continue to grow, with this year’s survey showing that a small minority of student and youth travelers (13%) indicate they won’t travel by plane due to emissions and a further 21% already know someone who refuses to travel by air. Another 23% indicated they are willing to pay an optional carbon offset fee when booking and 50% indicated they will prioritize booking through a platform with strong green credentials.
Traveling as a means of improving one’s mental well-being
Recent analysis has revealed a concerning trend amongst younger generations with a number of reports indicating a higher prevalence of depression and anxiety relative to past generations. A number of factors are considered to be at play here including the constant access to online content coupled with financial concerns, amongst various other existential threats. As such, in this year’s survey, StudentUniverse sought to better understand the benefits that travel can have on one’s well-being. Ninety-three percent agreed that travel experiences can have a positive impact on their mental health with 89% reporting returning from a vacation feeling less anxious and more positive. This is likely why younger generations place more importance on spending on vacations and experiences as opposed to things, with the former offering a positive impact on their well-being.
Engaging with new technologies
As a generation that has grown up with the constant presence of computers and personal electronic devices, Gen Z has demonstrated an eager willingness to try out and embrace new technologies. This is especially true regarding arguably the hottest tech buzzword: AI. Of those surveyed, 51% reported they trust travel itineraries generated by an AI with 21% reporting they’ve used chatbots to build an itinerary. However, Gen Z continues to also place importance on the human element noting that in the case of an issue 92% would prefer to speak to a person with 87% indicating they would be frustrated if they were unable to reach a real person.
Where they’re headed in 2024
In addition to sharing the survey findings, the report also reveals the most popular destinations based on booking data from StudentUniverse’s transactions. Below are outlined the most popular destinations for Gen Z travelers both from the U.S. and Canada.
Most popular countries for American Gen Z
- New Zealand
Most popular countries for Canadian Gen Z
- New Zealand
The post Report: TikTok inspires student travelers appeared first on hotelbusiness.com.