Throwing graduation caps, hugging distant friends, and hitting bucket-list travel destinations are making a comeback. We feel safer, and we’re finally starting to see the world outside of our bedroom walls. More than half of Americans are traveling more in 2022, and we wanted to know how Gen Z would help resurrect the travel industry in a post-COVID-19 world.
In partnership with the Unraveling Travel Webinar and panelists Rob Roche, Area Director of Leisure Sales at Auberge Resorts Collection; Kenan Saleh, Head of Lyft Media at Lyft; and Amelia Schaffner, Founding Director at The Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Emory University, we surveyed The Receipt*, our in-house global research network of over 5,000 young people, to see their hot takes on traveling in 2022. Here is what we learned…
First Things First: Gen Z Travel Priorities
When it comes to making travel plans, Gen Z is price-conscious. With prices rising due to the pandemic (and aftermath) it’s no wonder that most respondents prioritize cost when traveling. Inflation in this sector means 23% of American travelers have canceled their upcoming trips. And if gas prices continue to rise, 58% say they’ll be taking fewer road trips this summer.
Our respondents also claim affordability is the key barrier to staying at a five-star resort. They would rather spend money on activities and food, or have the flexibility to extend their trip in lieu of some luxuries in housing. In addition to the cost, factors like local culture, comfort/luxury, and food also play a role in deciding on where to travel.
As a generation touted for their involvement in mitigating the climate crisis, respondents in our study took a surprising turn with their prioritization of sustainability in the travel sector. 54% ranked sustainability as the least important factor when choosing a travel destination. This gap in values could be attributed to a lack of infrastructure for sustainable purchases in the travel sector or even an ‘off the clock’ mindset that applies to eco-practices as much as it does to Zoom calls.
A Life of Luxury?
Despite Gen Z’s tight grip on their wallet, 50% of respondents said they were “likely” or “very likely” to stay at a 5-star hotel this year.
Gen Z may be willing to invest in a luxurious experience and comfortable stay if they deem it worth the money and experience. But when does this luxury hit a price ceiling?
The key to this investment? Bang for our buck. Respondents said they were most likely to choose a 5-star resort that was all-inclusive (67%) and in a special destination (59%). These findings point to a generation that may be willing to travel to a far destination for a comfortable stay if this means they are able to explore unique cultures to get a worthwhile experience for their money. Experience is the true luxury to our respondents.
Where we’re headed…
Comparing travel before and during the pandemic, Rob Roche, the Area Director of Leisure Sales at Auberge Resorts Collections and Unraveling Travel panelist says it best, ”Because of the pandemic, people weren’t going to go on an airplane and fly somewhere, they were going to go local which is what we call a staycation.”
For the latter part of the pandemic, Gen Z wasn’t flying anywhere, but they were taking at-home or driving distance trips. 56% of respondents said they travel less compared to pre-pandemic.
In a post-pandemic world, Gen Z will do what it takes to get to where they want to be. 59% of respondents said they would be comfortable traveling up to 8 hours to a destination.
It’s hard to say if traveling will ever return to its pre-COVID trends, but that won’t stop Gen Z from continuing to explore the world around us and treating ourselves to a life of luxury.
If you need us, we’ll be ditching our Zoom calls to chase waterfalls.
JUV Consulting is a Gen Z collective that works with companies to create purpose-driven and authentic marketing campaigns that engage young audiences. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn how to reach Gen Z, or sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Screenshot, to get Gen Z insights straight to your inbox.
*Based on a JUV Receipt survey sent in 2021 (“Gen Z on Flying and Choosing Travel Destinations in 2022”: 507 respondents, aged 14 to 24, conducted online in December 2021; average respondent was 18 years old).