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Understanding generational changes the key to future tourism success

Understanding generational changes the key to future tourism success
April 9, 2017

A new study has revealed that the global tourism industry is seeing a new convergence between young Asian and Western tourists’ travel expectations and consumption patterns.

The white paper, the Changing of the (Demographic) Guard, shows that digital and mobile technologies are creating a shared generational experience, most notably in Generation Z, people born in the late 90s in both The East and The West.

The report, compiled for the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) shows that young Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Indian travellers now share as much in common with their Western counterparts as they do with their parents.

Carolyn Childs, tourism strategist, co-founder of MyTravelResearch.com and the author of the report, explains “the internet’s ability to deliver engaging content is impacting East and West in similar ways – as are some of the broad macro-trends.”

The digital natives of Generation Z are ‘technoholics,’ entirely dependent on IT, with limited grasp of alternatives, says the report. They are career multi-taskers often in part time ‘portfolio’ jobs, they aspire to security and stability, they crowd source solutions to tasks, they want to make a difference, they are relatively dependent on their parents – and quite happy to be so and they have had a smartphone in their hands since they can remember.

Childs adds “they tend to see the internet as an extension of their self.

“Their expectation is that all interactions both online and offline will be smooth, quick and easy. Their attention span is shaped by Snapchat. Whereas Generation Y (Millennials - born between 1981 and 1995) seek constant feedback, Generation Z seeks constant dialogue – think instant messaging, WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Kik.”

Even more than the Millennials, Generation Z feels a sense of responsibility for the planet and a strong sense of ethics.

Here Childs comments “they expect to understand what you stand for and how you do things.

“Growing up for many means living with their parents. They share ideas for holidays with their parents as well as their friends.”

There are strong lifestyle generational changes across all demographics and identifiable life stages. This creates opportunities and challenges for tourism businesses, especially those that target specific generations. Do they change with their audience or do they focus on the next generation?

For example, Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1960) in the West is a large, affluent and time-rich demographic. They expect the world to change around them and will embrace it as it does. What they won’t put up with is stereotyping or out of date images. They want to see themselves as they feel, not as we see them.

Childs argues that marketers who fail to appreciate this will be punished.

Another key change to understand is the blurring of the boundaries between generations.

Childs concludes “there is a growing recognition that demographics are not destiny. Many destinations now look at their target audiences through psychographic or needs-based profiling, rather than demographics.

“There are major demographic challenges facing destination marketing organisations. They need to be fully informed on the demographic nuances and rapid lifestyle changes underway across the generations.”

The white paper, the Changing of the (Demographic) Guard is published as part of the PATA Connected Visitor Economy series.

Click here to view the report.

Images: Upcoming generational changes: should tourism marketers change with their audience, or focus on the next generation? (top), Carolyn Childs (middle) and luxury tourism experiences that Generation Z aspires to (below).

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16th January 2016 - ASIAN TRAVELLERS SEEK NEW EXPERIENCES

20th November 2015 - NEW PEOPLE AND SKILLS FRAMEWORK TO SUPPORT NEW ZEALAND TOURISM’S GROWTH GOALS

5th November 2015 - STAFF AND SKILLS SHORTAGE IMPACTS TOURISM BUSINESSES

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27th April 2015 - INLAND NSW TOURISM TO DELIVER DIGITAL TRAVEL PROMOTION PLATFORM

3rd October 2014 - RESEARCHER IDENTIFIES KEY CHALLENGES FACING REGIONAL TOURISM

29th May 2014 - INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS ASKED TO HELP CHANGE THE IMAGE OF TOURISM


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