Meaningful experiences beat materialistic pursuits for travellers… and not just with millennials and Generation Z

Although millennials and Generation Z are leading the charge in putting a higher priority on meaningful experiences rather than materialistic pursuits, new research shows the increasing value of travel across Americans of all age groups – a useful insight into the US market for all travel organisations across the globe.

A new study conducted by OTA Expedia and the Center for Generational Kinetics found that 74% of Americans prioritise experiences over products or things. The research featured a survey of 1,000 Americans aged 18 to 65.

“Americans are shucking their materialism in exchange for life enriching experiences, social media influences and highly customised interactions,” the study’s authors concluded.

Roughly 57% of the survey’s respondents are currently saving specifically for travel, and unsurprisingly, 65% of millennials are working to build funds for travel.

However, there are nuances among members of different generations approach travel. The study’s findings showed the Generation Z age group valued adventure experiences while Baby Boomers gravitate more towards sightseeing or touring. Millennials and the Generation X age group place a higher value on relaxation.

Members Generation Z are overwhelmingly willing to make lifestyle adjustments to support their desire to travel. Roughly 71% of the respondents in that age group stated they would get a part time job to save money to go on a trip. Approximately 49% of both Generation Z and Millennials would sell clothes or furniture to raise money for a trip.

The study’s authors also drilled down in to travel patterns by income level, and concluded travellers with lower annual incomes of less than USD49K prioritised spending times with loved ones. Individuals in the mid-income bracket of USD50k to USD74K place a greater value on sightseeing and tourism and travellers earning more than USD75k per year prefer to seek travel that entails de-stressing and unwinding.

Trip duration also varies by age group, according to the study. Long weekends are the most preferred length of time for Millennials, Generation Z and Generation X, and Baby Boomers are likely to book travel spanning a week or longer.

Roughly 80% of the survey’s respondents concluded it is helpful to book all travel accommodations – hotels, vacation rentals, cars and flights – on one website. (Keep in mind OTA Expedia is a sponsor of the study) Travellers are highlighting the one stop booking preference as airlines are attempting to drive traffic to their own websites.

“Half of Gen Z and 48% of Millennials say visiting an online travel agency website is how they prefer to book transportation and accommodations,” the study authors stated.

Social media’s influence on the travel experience is also changing, according to the study. Travellers are moving beyond simply posting photos and trip reviews to using social media to obtain insight about a potential trip. Approximately 27% of millennials in the survey have posted a potential trip on social media to canvas opinions before booking, and 36% of the Generation Z age group have selected a destination specifically because they have seen postings about the location on social media.

“A post on social media can turn into a poll, collating tips and opinions of multiple people in a matter of minutes,” the study stated.