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Youth and student travel experts at WTM London expose the tourism industry to the ‘woke’ generation

Nov 6, 2019

Facebook, Contiki and Student.com shared valuable glimpses at 2020 and beyond at World Travel Market London during a session titled “Spotlight on Gen Z: What’s Next in Youth Travel”. The session was organised by the British Educational Travel Association (BETA) and attracted a room full of eager WTM listeners.

Chief Marketing Officer Toni Ambler outlined some characteristics and expectations of the global youth travel consumer and explained how Contiki is catering to these. General Manager, EMEA, Dan Baker shared outbound market insights based on knowledge from Student.com’s localisation. To close, Facebook’s Sorcha Diggin described the ‘zero-friction future’ of the customer journey that Gen Z is currently shaping.

Characterised as ‘digital natives’, ‘woke’, and ‘shifting’, Toni Ambler suggested that in the current shift toward ‘conscious travel’ brands need to clearly define their values and align with appropriate suppliers and fellow brands to meet the social responsibility expectations of young consumers. “Trust drives revenue,” she said.

Taking a more nuanced approach, Dan Baker described factors influencing Gen Z in local markets, stating that “copy and paste approaches do not work”. In describing the considerations for local market strategies, it’s fair to say that some of the most important influencers are not found on social media. For example, “parents make the purchase decision in Thailand,” he noted, in contrast with Spain where reviews tend to drive decisions for student consumers. Adapting to these nuances with blended approaches is key for Student.com.

Looking ahead, while noting the current EUR 86 billion opportunity cost of consumer interactions fraught with friction and leading to abandonment, Sorcha Diggin of Facebook encouraged businesses to identify friction points along the digital journey. Ultimately there are three steps toward a Gen Z-friendly marketplace, she summarized: shorten the path to purchase, make discovery exciting and personal via immersive media, and build loyalty through distinctive brand assets and seamless customer service. Reflecting on the increasing possibilities for consumers to quickly assess corporate social responsibility ratings and side with value-aligned brands, Sorcha suggested that it was only a matter of time for such an app for the travel industry.

For more Gen Z travel insights, download a free preview copy of New Horizons: A Global Study of the Youth and Student Traveller, published by WYSE Travel Confederation.