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What Tim Gurner is missing about millennial travellers (and avocado toast)

17 May 2017
17 May 2017 -

Outrage over avocado toast has been making the rounds of the internet this week. Specifically, the anger is directed at statements made by 35-year-old real estate mogul Tim Gurner in an interview with Australia’s “60 Minutes” on Monday. Turner alleged that millennials should stop eating expensive brunch, such as avocado toast, and ”skip the European vacation” so they can save for a down payment on a home. The reactions to his comments looked something like this:

While WYSE Travel Confederation doesn’t have data readily available to support the merits of avocado toast, our non-profit organisation does conduct research to help the travel industry identify trends and make informed business decisions for the youth and student travel market. This travel market is valued at $183 billion (USD) worldwide and accounts for 20% of all international arrivals. WYSE Travel Confederation has found that millennials’ total travel spend was an average of €3,000 in 2012/13, a growth of 40% since 2007. According to research from MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers in 2016, millennial travel spending is lower than both Gen X and Baby Boomers. In March 2017, the median price for a home in the United States was $315,000. This means millennials should forgo travel for about 20 years to save up for their real estate downpayment.

Gurner’s allegations of avocado toast opulence and frivolous trips to Europe also don’t hold up against research from the WYSE Travel Confederation report, New Horizons III, which is the largest reoccurring survey of the youth travel market. The 2012 report showed a steep decline in holiday motivations for young travellers compared with the 2002 and 2007 surveys. The survey found millennials are increasingly going abroad to learn a language, gain work experience, and to study. The majority of millennial travellers surveyed said they are motivated to travel by having a cultural experience, exploring new cultures, learning new things and meeting local people. New Horizons III found that 90% of young travellers feel more appreciation for other cultures after going abroad and nearly as many respondents felt an increased interest in learning about other cultures.

Those in the youth travel industry know something Gurner, a real estate investor, does not. Youth travellers are a growing, and increasingly, a crucial market for the global economy. And, although millennials are warming to the idea of home ownership as they age, research shows that millennials value experiences over material goods. WYSE Travel Confederation is dedicated to promoting and developing opportunities for young travellers as a vital means of fostering international understanding and cultural exchange. As part of this effort, WYSE Travel Confederation will soon begin surveying youth travellers for New Horizons IV. Respondents will have a chance to win prizes such as two tickets to anywhere in the world with Emirates.