As generations change, so do preferences and dynamics. Marketers and hoteliers alike have a sense of overwhelming fear as new generations emerge in the ever-growing market. The trick is to embrace these new generations head on. Using what we have learned from past generations, we are able to apply our knowledge to future generations. Each new generation will always be receptive to new cutting edge technologies. They may not all be experts in that new technology, but they will certainly be native users.
We are all aware of the vast spending power of millennials, as well as their projecting impact on the travel industry. Millennials hold $200 billion in buying power (Forbes), and they aren’t afraid to spend it on life’s finest luxuries. Millennials are undoubtedly the now, but who is the future?
Meet, Generation Z. This know-how generation aged 13-20, was born in 1995 or later. Together, they make up 25.9% of the U.S. population and contribute $44 billion to the American economy. Gen Z is exploding with knowledge, as they have grown up with information at their fingertips. They are communicative sharers that use social media as a common form of expression. Fired up with ambition and drive, after watching their millennial siblings move back into their household, they are self-directed and many desire to be entrepreneurs.
They may be too young to book at your hotel now, but their influence on their parents is invaluable. 65% of moms feel their Gen Z child is influential when purchasing family vacations (Sparks & Honey). The teenagers will be pressuring their parents to meet their travel desires, the oldest will be graduating college in a couple years and looking to satisfy that travel itch, and the college students will be effortlessly researching destinations to explore on their study abroad.
Hoteliers, it’s time to get your campaigns in a row, because this determined generation is the future of travel.
Gen Z is growing up in a world of exceedingly innovative technology. The majority of them can’t recall a time before Google, or a world without smartphones. Their perspective of the world is what makes them unique. They think in 4D, wear watches that’s primary function isn’t to tell time, and have never had that feeling of holding a paper map in their hands.
Gen Z is constantly connected, with 41% spending 3+ hours a day on computers for non-school related activities and preferring to use 5 screens at once for multi-tasking (Sparks & Honey). More than eight out of 10 are hooked on social networks and more than half of them think that this is where their social life takes place (Business Insider).
Gen Z favours apps with privacy, like Snapchat, vine and Instagram. Facebook isn’t as popular among this group, with a quarter leaving Facebook in 2014 (Sparks & Honey). 73% of this generation connects to the Internet within an hour or less of waking up (Wikia).
Gen Z is part of the larger, do it yourself (DIY) culture. Even with their youth they have already seen technology become obsolete – DVDs, answering machines, game consoles. Whatever it may be, they won’t risk being out of the loop, which explains why they are independent learners. They are self-educators, and entirely comfortable teaching themselves things via YouTube or Google.
They lack patience, which may correlate with autocorrect. They prefer visuals to text, as they truly communicate through emojis. They are constantly worried about missing out on things, a term dubbed “FOMO” (fear of missing out). All of these distinctive characteristics should be the driving force behind your marketing strategies.
It is key to use what we know about Generation Z and their technology habits to reach them in a way that they understand and can relate to.
Tips for reaching Gen Z
Prove to Gen Z that you understand and embrace social media and you will gain their respect instantly. Not only is it crucial to be especially active on social media, but be sure to stay up to date on their favourite platforms.
Target their FOMO through social media by showing them what they are missing by not visiting your property. For example, post an Instagram or Snapchat feed on your property website with guests shooting down a waterslide into the Mediterranean.
Be part of every step of your guests’ journey. Start by reaching them via social media before the booking process, continue the interactive experience through Instagram competitions during their stay, and follow up via social after they leave.
Use visuals to communicate with them, as visuals are what resonates the most with these sharp guests. Feature live streams, short videos and 360 degree photos on your website. Showcase your property’s sailing expeditions, by live streaming the adventure through your hotel’s GoPro, then distribute the video on all of your social channels. Blurry and non-high definition photos will result in loss of business.
Feed that entrepreneurial hunger by engaging Gen Z through user generated content, or photo contests, and empower them with control through options. If you treat them as producers rather than consumers, you will earn their approval quickly. For example, try running social media campaigns featuring guest-produced photos.
Lastly, speak a language they understand. Stay on top of how they are communicating. If they are using abbreviations in their social media posts, you should do the same. Keep things short and easy to read, as this generation is more likely to absorb shorter text. Communicating frequently and in shorter bursts will do the trick.
Generation Z is the near future. Prepare yourselves now and boost up your social media strategy, because this generation is going to hit the travel industry hard. Like every generation, their consumption patterns and behaviors will always be relevant. They have grown up in a time where technology is taking enormous leaps and innovation is at its strongest. The platforms they use may change and vary, but it is vital to stay on top of this group in order to know the best way to reach them.
About the author
Joe Mele heads the Strategic Accounts team for BookingSuite where he focuses on developing programs and product solutions for global chains and regional brands, as well as managing partner relationships. Joe is a veteran in digital marketing, media, product development, and strategic customer and partner relationships.
Before joining BookingSuite, Joe was the SVP of Media at Razorfish, one of the largest digital agencies in the world, where he spent 14 years leading client relationships and digital strategy for brands such as Nike, Best Buy, Disney, Microsoft, Caesar’s Entertainment, and T-Mobile. Joe was also the CEO and Co-Founder of StowThat.com, an online peer-to-peer self-storage marketplace. Joe is a former teacher and professional singer, and holds an MBA from the University of Washington Foster School of Business.