Harnessing Gen Z’s Summer Travel Wanderlust

It’s all about marketers inspiring choices, spontaneity and loyalty rewards as the summer approaches

Gen Z Travel AdWeekChadchai Ra-ngubpai/ Getty Images


With travel restrictions waning and the summer season beckoning, millennials and Gen Z travelers are thinking beyond the “staycation” ideals and are laying out plans to see various cities, states and even countries in the coming months. As they break out of their shells and begin exploring their options, these consumers are taking a different approach than they did two years ago.

A recent Forbes article highlighted the notion that “travelers want to spend big and go far” in 2022, and 78% of those asked said travel was one of the top activities they missed the most. Travel in 2022 will be significantly higher than in past years: 62% of survey respondents wanted to take two to four trips this year. The piece also emphasized millennials as driving major travel trends, like bucket-list trips to exotic locations such as the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica. Dream destinations are ultimately most desired by millennials and Gen Zers, and two-thirds of those surveyed preferred a once-in-a-lifetime vacation over purchasing a new car.

Gen Z is ready to spend more on travel

Avail’s State of Travel in 2022 survey suggests Gen Zers, rather than millennials, are leading the charge in the return to travel—and furthermore, that 72% of Gen Z respondents plan to invest the same or more in travel this year than pre-pandemic. An equal percentage of Gen Zers say they’re already planning or may splurge on a big trip this year, versus 68% of millennials, 60% of Gen Xers and 51% of baby boomers.

To harness this huge group’s serious case of wanderlust, marketers will have to think differently than they did a few years ago. With the oldest member of Gen Z now being 24 years old, they’re collectively new in the travel category, and 80% say they have “some responsibility” in the trip-planning process—a share that will grow as Gen Z continues to gain spending power.

Until then, marketers can attract these young travelers with better deals and last-minute opportunities that feed their spontaneous natures and buy-now/pay-later types of deals that spread any travel-related financial responsibility over time.

Harnessing the opportunity

The question is, how can performance marketers effectively reach these travelers where they are and at the time when they are ready to click “buy now” for that flight, hotel, rental or car-sharing service?

The key is meeting the consumer on their media of choice, and the younger consumer goes beyond large or well-known travel or home-share sites, reacting more spontaneously based on word-of-mouth recommendations from family, friends, influencers or the best deal that shows up online. So, there is a big opportunity not only for established travel companies, but also for emerging platforms as well.

Social media is a channel that will create interest and excitement for travel, as well as the opportunity to extend marketing offers and deals for younger travelers like Gen Z and Gen Y. A primary resource for Gen Z travelers, TikTok, serves as a hub for finding personal recommendations and things to do in whatever town they’re visiting. Comments like, “Oh, I’ve been there. It’s amazing,” can influence others to give it a try. (Negative comments on any platform have the exact opposite effect and should be monitored closely and addressed immediately.)

Gen Z doesn’t mind booking last-minute trips and activities, which gives marketers the opportunity to push specials and deals when filling up available space. Throw in a free dinner for two at a local restaurant, or a stocked coffee bar on the kitchen counter, and your offer will probably be snatched up quickly by a young traveler that wants to experience the world on a budget.

Meeting them where they are

With Avail reporting that younger generations emerged as the most eager to travel more often than pre-pandemic, it’s time to come up with new and engaging ways to attract these eager consumers.

Be sure to target the ads with deals and discounts on a routine basis and right before the trip and use geotargeting to help travelers book any last-minute, spontaneous activities once they’re on site. Know your audience, come up with your best deal and tip them over the edge.

5 Travel Boom Trends for Performance Marketers to Watch in 2021

Go-to destinations are being replaced with out-of-the-way places

AdWeek - Travel Boom Trends


There’s a lot of pent-up demand in the leisure travel world right now, which means companies forced to mothball their sales and marketing efforts in 2020 are in a great position to reboot those initiatives and tap into the post-Covid travel boom. From hotel operators to RV parks to online booking companies and all points in between, a diverse range of companies suddenly has the opportunity to come back stronger than ever.

According to Expedia Group’s 2021 Travel Trends Report, 42% of travelers are “more hopeful” about travel or drove them to book an upcoming trip. The report found that 44% will take more trips in 2021 than 2020, with younger generations traveling the most overall. And, roughly one-third of respondents said their next trip will be a week, or longer.

5 key trends to watch

As they help consumers break out of pandemic isolation and resume some level of “normal” activities, companies in the travel industry may find themselves operating in a very different environment that what they’re used to. Here are five trends performance marketers should pay attention to when developing new strategies for reaching this audience:

1. Longer trips are in order

Weekend trips away from home may not cut it for the travelers that were relegated to staycations in 2020. According to Concur TripIt data, there’s already been an increase in trip duration—spanning flight, lodging, and car rentals—signaling that travelers are planning trips with an intent to stay longer. “And without the physical confines of work or school,” Localogy reports, “longer stays at short-term rentals will continue to be a popular choice for business and leisure travelers alike.”

2. It’s about culture, reconnecting and healing

Expedia says that travelers plan to spend an average of $3,444 for their next trips, with millennials expected to spend “significantly more.” The reasons behind the travel vary: 63% of respondents said travel creates greater cultural understanding while 56% see it as a healing mechanism.

For others, being able to travel again means reconnecting with loved ones and family members that they missed visiting in 2020.

3. Different generations have varying travel priorities

Americans still prioritize travel to be close to family (32%), according to a recent Airbnb study, but equally prioritize a new experience or destination (31%), preferably nearby, followed by a return to a favorite destination (25%). Older Americans (50+) are most interested in future travel to be close to family (33%) and to revisit a favorite spot (32%), followed by a new experience or destination (29%).

Younger Americans remain most interested in a second trip as a new experience or destination (35%), followed by being close to family (31%), being close to nature (23%) and returning to a favorite place (23%).

4. Go-to destinations are being replaced with out-of-the-way places

According to Airbnb, the top 10 destination cities for travelers (ranked by nights stayed) in 2019 were Barcelona, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, New York, Paris, Rome, Seoul, and Toronto.

“In 2020, smaller, lower-profile destinations saw major growth in demand,” it says, citing the largest year-over-year increases in searches for 2021 bookings as: Derbyshire, U.K.; Rodanthe (on the coast of North Carolina); Forks, Wash. (the main setting for the Twilight series); and the Muskoka Lakes (a few hours’ drive from Toronto).

5. Trip cancellation insurance gains in popularity

Coming off a year that saw many people cancelling trips and then trying to get their deposits back, travelers are covering their assets with trip cancellation insurance. In fact, revenues for the global travel insurance market are expected to reach $40 billion by 2028 (up from $21 billion in 2019).

Credit the fact that travelers are encountering new requirements that could impact their travel plans and their travel insurance needs.

As companies in the travel industry help consumers make up for lost time,—vacation, postponed holiday gatherings and missed family time—people are optimistic about getting moving again.

This presents a great opportunity for performance marketers to plan ahead, understand the competitive landscape targeting travelers and plant their stakes in this “next normal” leisure travel environment