F*ck Brexit. People are still going to travel.

To mark the release of our inaugural Generation Travel 2019 report, we invited a panel of thought leaders to offer their insight into the findings at a launch event in Fitzrovia.

Speaking to a full house of some 60 marketers from all corners of the travel world, the panel featured Richard Singer, CEO of icelolly.com, Anna Fawcett, global head of marketing at Topdeck Travel, Lucy Dalton, travel PR consultant and Evelina Hederer, business development director at Expedia Group. In a wide-ranging discussion on the latest travel trends, including what really makes Gen Z tick, Brexit and eco-tourism, a few key points stood out.

Stay on top of social (responsibility)

“We’re having people call up and ask us what our responsible travel policy is. Gen Z expects it. If you aren’t doing it, they won’t choose you,” said Fawcett. “Brands in the youth market need to stand for something.”

In fact, our research found that 33% of Gen Z look carefully at their behaviour to ensure they don’t impact the environment while on holiday. Fawcett added: “The older millennial may sway according to what your responsible travel policy is. But with Gen Z it’s completely different. It’s absolutely a must-have and they will not book with if you don’t have it”. 

Despite having less buying power now, eco-conscious Gen Z are the consumers of tomorrow. Fact. The message was clear: adapt for the growing trend towards sustainability, or risk your future bottom line.

Influencers waning? 

So many of us now follow travel-related Insta accounts that remind us painfully of what we’re missing out on – so what would the discussion be without talking influencers? The research revealed only 7% of the project’s youngest participants aged 18-24 follow influencers and bloggers for travel inspiration. Perhaps surprisingly, 40% said they didn’t share any images of their holiday on social media. So, is influencer marketing losing its effectiveness?

Hederer said the campaigns she’d worked on at Expedia Group still produced results: “Our influencer campaigns generated great results and content. It’s a case of making sure the content’s not just static and is interactive.”

Fawcett believes the biggest challenge for travel brands is overcoming consumer distrust. “Millennials and Gen Z are very cynical, so if one day your influencer is touting your competitor and the next day they are selling tea detox, your audience is going to know it’s not real and is advertising”. 

Mix it up

According to our survey, 79% of 25-34 year olds have combined both luxury and budget elements on holiday. An interesting insight that was challenged by Singer: “What is luxury? Luxury to one person is different to someone else. But if everybody is going on a luxury holiday, then it is no longer luxury. It’s as simple as that”. 

As ‘luxury’ becomes more democratised, Singer suggested that brands end up having to reshuffle the pack and use differentiating terminology: “Companies that are truly luxury get frustrated with the term being thrown about. We’ve now seen the rise of the term uber-luxury”. 

Dalton agreed and called for an audience-first approach to the way marketers appeal to each generation. “It all goes back to truly understanding who your audience is and what they define as luxury”. 

Silver lining 

Although 2019 has proved to be a bumpy ride for the industry so far, everyone in the room felt positive about the journey ahead. During the Q&A, one audience member from City AM captured the mood well when she remarked: “F*ck Brexit. People are still going to travel.” 

It’s a fair prediction, one that coincides with what we found. While nearly a fifth admitted to being more likely to consider staycations, a defiant 45% remain determined to take to the skies. And that’s sweet departure lounge muzak to our ears.

For more first-class insights, download your copy of the full Generation Travel report here.

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