Generation Z travelers use traditional travel agencies for curatorship, but buy online

An expert's opinion on the importance of post-millennials for the tourism sector

Each individual has their own personality and style, but as humans, we are naturally social and wish to be a part of a community in which we feel we belong and in which we share similar values, beliefs, and desires.

The first community that we are a part of is the generation that we are born into. Studying generations helps us grasp the thoughts and actions of a group of people born in a period of time. There will always be differences among its members, yet when we pay close attention, we perceive innumerable affinities and similarities. We are affected by the context that surrounds us, which in turn forges our personality.

To understand what younger generations think, we conducted research on more than 400 Generation Z travelers throughout Brazil. This research was completed via online surveys, netnographic observation and focus groups, in order to identify the main traits and desires of post-millennials and what changes they will prompt in the industry.

Generation Z, or Generation Gol, as it is called in research, is composed of a group of individuals who are more pragmatic and resilient than the millennials who precede them. Every generation corrects the excesses of the previous one. Our research seeks to understand what future shifts may occur in travel trends due to changes in the profile of this new generation of travellers.

The name Generation Gol was chosen because of the corresponding airline , an airline that revolutionized Brazilian aviation with its novel approach and business model. Created in 2001, Gol began democratizing air travel in Brazil the same year that marks the beginning of Generation Z according to the UN. Some authors and studies suggest that Generation Z begins in 1995-1997 and continues to the present. This span of years was used as the cut-off date in our research.

To understand the context and factors that shaped this generation, we must consider that, while millennials were born in one of the most economically prosperous periods in Brazil, the Gol Generation did not have the benefit of such favorable economic conditions as the millennials. Current economic growth is slow or non-existent. There has been break away from what we once understood as absolute truths, a shift marked by the emergence of true universal connectivity.

That said, this generation has been taught by their parents to develop resilience and integrity, to plan for the future, and to avoidunnecessary risks. This makes them a less egocentric generation, more focused on practical solutions. Additionally, they are true digital natives, since they are the first generation born post-internet. They are digital nomads–always connected–who  have never known a world without Google.

Generation Gol is made up of frequent leisure travelers (86.59% have traveled for leisure purposes in the last 12 months),who are now also traveling on business (35.12%).

Generation Gol travels 2 to 3 times per year on short trips to regional destinations, mainly to the beach. The main objective is to unplug and relax with partners and friends. They still spend less than previous generations ($ 190 compared to $ 760 of the millennials) but are already consumers throughout the whole tourism chain.

They travel to chosen destinations, so they start planning the trip in advance, looking for the best prices and deals. They usually plan their trips 3 months in advance.

Given the excess of information and possibilities available, Generation Gol uses traditional operators and travel agencies as curators that help to filter options and opportunities. However, online conversion is more significant. Members of Generation Z are autonomous and organize each part of their journey independently, seeking what is more authentic and less associated with mass tourism.

Travel search and shopping channels

Generation Gol checks with 2 to 4 sites or applications prior to making reservations, especially to compare prices (86.34%), check reviews and opinions of other customers (62.20%) and look for offers and promotions (57.56%).

Finally, they are tech-savvy, and this is no different regarding travel, where 40.49% use a cellphone boarding pass, 32.68% access travel agency apps, and 30.73% opt for service via messaging apps. Travel moments are frequently shared by 60.24% on social networks, especially on Instagram, with a sharp drop in Facebook’s popularity when compared to millennials.

What we found out is that Generation Gol likes to travel. Because they don’t yet have enough income, they are careful in their choices, plan ahead and look for better prices and promotions. In relation to general behavior and travel habits, they are very similar to millennials. This means that we will see increasingly different and intelligent models being considered and purchased by this generation. Anything goes!

According to Phocuswright data, Brazilian tourism grows on average 6% per year, with online sales penetration reaching 42%. Therefore, it is fundamental to understand these digital natives and what transformations they play in the activity. All tourism companies should be aware of the shifts of new generations, because they are the influencers and decision-makers of family travel – they are or will be the clientele of most companies.