The summer travel season is now in full swing, and for many Americans, this year’s vacations may look very different from what they’re used to. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the travel industry and has reportedly impacted the plans of nearly 51% of all Americans, according to Fluent, the performance marketing company, which has been tracking consumer trends and behavior since the onset of the outbreak.
However, despite the disruptions in travel plans, 21% of Americans are still planning leisure travel this summer, with Gen Z making up a majority of this percentage. But how can advisors more effectively communicate with Gen Z travelers, and what are they looking for in their next travel experience?
Matt Conlin, co-founder and CEO of Fluent, Inc. discussed his findings following the recent Future of Travel report, which surveyed people about who is going to be traveling in the short-term, where they plan to go and how they plan to get there.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we decided we wanted to provide insights and data on specific [consumer] actions,” said Conlin. “Since then we’ve surveyed over 6 and a half million Americans, and we’ve begun seeing how consumer sentiment has shifted from the beginning of the pandemic to now, and there’s a good amount of insights we’ve been able to find.”
Gen Z is the key
“One of the key takeaways we’ve found is that Gen Z is actually the most comfortable traveling this summer, followed closely by millennials,” said Conlin.
“From a demographic perspective, very early on in the pandemic the Gen Z and millennial populations were actually some of the most nervous regarding the impact of COVID, and when we fast forward to now, the Gen Z’ers are the most comfortable with the situation. This is also translating to their sentiment around travel.”
“We attribute that to a couple of factors. Gen Z is more connected to social media, than any other generation, and the more they see their friends out-and-about, the more likely they are to want to get out and travel.”
Where they’re going
While there’s been a significant shift in who is traveling and how, one of the other big factors that’s changing most dramatically is where they travel to.
For Gen Z travelers, road trips and in-state vacations are becoming very popular, allowing them to travel with who they want, and on their own terms.
“There’s a big shift towards (creating) safe, socially distance opportunities for travel. And the Gen Z travelers are taking advantage of those travel options.”
“But for [advisors], the emphasis has got to be on local [travel], catering to the folks that want to travel, but want to do so in a very safe socially distance friendly way.”
How to target Gen Z
“Both Gen Z and Millenials aren’t using traditional travel agencies like they used to,” said Conlin, “And more often than not, these two generations are relying on word of mouth, primarily through social media.”
His advice to advisors hoping to attract younger clients is to meet them where they are, online.
“What we’re finding is consumers live their lives on social media, so advisors have to begin [promoting] on social media. It’s got to be a more authentic, more native and more social voice. And a big part of that social media strategy is not only authenticity, but how they can leverage influencer marketing as part of their strategy.”
And while advisors’ social media presence is essential, they can't forget the core of what people look for in travel advisors, direct one-on-one connections and communications with an expert in the field.
“Beyond social media, it’s essential that advisors foster one-on-one relationships with their clients.”