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Expedia Media Solutions: Generational differences in digital travel trends of Europeans [REPORT]

Expedia Media Solutions: Generational differences in digital travel trends of Europeans [REPORT]
25 May 2017 (Edited 16 June 2017)

Expedia Media Solutions has reported results of an online survey designed to identify the current digital travel trends by generation of consumers in the UK, Germany and France.


  • Qualifying criterion: Booked travel online in the past year
  • Generational segmentation: Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers
  • Sample size: 3003
  • Survey: Quantitative
  • Data collected: 30 March - 7 April 2017

Some key findings:

  • Respondents reported having taken an average of 2.6 leisure trips in the past year, with only slight variations among countries (range of 2.4 to 2.7 trips).
  • Most important motivations for trips:
    1. Relaxation
    2. Sightseeing
    3. Visiting family
    4. Family play
    5. Romantic getaway
  • Significant differences among countries:
    • Germans were more likely to take trips for relaxation.
    • British and French respondents were more likely to travel for sightseeing.
    • French respondents were (much) more likely to travel for family play.
  • Average holiday duration reported was more than 9 days - range 7.9 (UK) to 10.2 (FR) days.
  • Air travel predominated (vs. car or train) for all countries - range 54% (FR) to 65% (UK).
  • Hotels were the preferred accommodation for respondents from all countries - range 51% (FR) to 67% (UK).
  • The majority of respondents from all countries reported taking their last trip to another country - range 56% (FR) to 72% (DE).
  • Respondents from all countries tended to say that budget was a significant consideration in trip planning/booking - range 59% (DE) to 77% (FR).
  • Top 3 expense items across countries were:
    1. Lodging
    2. Airfare
    3. Food

Generational differences:

  • Millennials took the most leisure trips (but not by much): 2.8 vs. 2.5-2.6 for the other generations.
  • Significant generational differences in trip motivation:
    • Boomers were most likely to travel for sightseeing (48% vs. 43%-45%).
    • Millennials were most likely to travel for family play (35% vs. 10%-26%) and romantic getaways (33% vs. 18%-24%).
  • Boomers reported taking significantly longer trips (10.5 days vs. 8.5-9.3 days).
  • Most frequently mentioned trip-planning resources (>30% average mention) were:
    • OTAs (42%-54%)
    • Search engines (46% - 51%)
    • Travel Review sites (36% - 41%)
    • Meta search sites (30% - 39%)
  • Boomers and Gen X tended to most prefer OTAs for planning.
  • Most frequently mentioned booking sources (>30% average mention) were:
    • OTAs (43% - 52%)
    • Search engines (30% - 43%)
  • Gen X tended to most prefer OTAs for booking.
  • Boomers were significantly more likely to travel by car (31% vs 21% - 27%).
  • Gen Z were significantly more likely to stay with family/friends (16% vs. 8% - 11%).
  • Across generations, respondents chose international travel over domestic (64% - 67%).
  • Budget was a bigger consideration for Gen Z (79%) and Millennials (73%) vs. Gen X (64%) and Boomers (54%).
  • Top 3 trip expense items across generations were the same as for the population overall.
  • Across generations (79% to 89%), most prevalent attitude toward travel was "I look for the best deal and most value."
  • Significant attitude differences among generations were: Gen Z and Millennials were more likely to agree that "You only live once, so taking risks and crossing things off my bucket list is imperative" and "I'm all about taking a nap on the beach, spa treatments and all-day relaxation."
  • Across the entire sample population, significantly most important considerations in choice of holiday reported were:
    1. Activities
    2. Once-in-a-lifetime experience
    3. Cultural experience
  • Significant generational differences in drivers of holiday choice:
    • Boomers most often named "Activities" and "My food experience."
    • Gen Z most often named "Once-in-a-lifetime experience," "Going somewhere where I can take memorable pictures" and "A place where I can vacation with friends."
  • When first deciding to take a trip:
    • Boomers are most likely to have already decided on a destination - 41% vs. 23%-29%.
    • Millennials are most likely to be deciding among 2 or more destinations (62% vs. 48%-59%).
    • Gen Z are most likely not to have any destination at all in mind initially (18% vs. 11%-15%).
  • Reported need for trip-planning help:
    • 51% of Boomers said they don't need help.
    • 66% of Gen Z and 63% of Millennials said they may need some help and inspiration.
    • 7% of Gen Z and 6% of Millennials said they would need lots of help.
  • Reported most important influences on booking decision (top 3):
    • "I see a deal or promotion" - 42% (Gen Z) - 55% (Boomers), average 47%
    • "Travel pictures posted by my friends" - 29% (Boomers) - 46% (Gen Z), average 42%
    • "Travel pictures posted by experts" - 41% (Gen Z) - 46% (Boomers),average 42%
  • Reported most influential reviews and content (> 70% average):
    • "Reviews from sites like TripAdvisor" - 75% (Boomers) - 85% (Gen X), average 81%
    • "Content from destinations and/or travel brands" - 72% (gen Z) - 80% (Gen X), average 76%
    • "I look for deals before making a decision" - 72% (Boomers) - 79% (Millennials), average 75%.
  • Influence of deals and imagery in ads:
    • "Deal in ad looks appealing": significantly more often mentioned by Gen Z (53%) and Millennials (51%) vs. average 48%
    • "Imagery in ad looks appealing": significantly more often mentioned by Gen Z (53%), Millennials (53%) and Gen X (51%) vs. average 48%. (66% of Boomers aren't impressed.)
    • "Content of ad is informative": significantly more often mentioned by Boomers (49%) vs. average 43%
  • Generational trends in device use were similar at all phases of the planning/booking process:
    • Gen Z most preferred to use smartphones
    • Boomers most preferred to use desktops or laptops.
    • Device preferences of Millennials and Gen X were intermediate.
    • Tablet use was low across both generations and planning/booking phases (max 36% by Boomers during trip).

So: what useful things can we do with these data?

Let's identify some actionable pieces of information:

  • Europeans (UK, DE, FR) take a lot of long leisure trips (2.6 trips/year and duration of more than 9 days on average).
  • Any destination with airline connections has the potential to enter the market for European leisure travelers.
  • Unsurprisingly, budget is an important consideration in Europeans' trip planning, so you need to demonstrate value.
  • Depending on your business sector, you need a (favorable) online presence in OTA, search-engine. travel-review and/or meta-search sites.
  • Getting the best deal trumps all other considerations across countries and generations.
  • Since 41% of Boomers have already decided on a destination before beginning to plan a trip, and 51% of them say they need no planning help, to get those people airlines and hotels need to be top-of-mind at that point in the planning process; it's too late for competing destinations.
  • When just beginning to plan a trip, most Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X are susceptible to persuasion in choosing a destination, and tend to be in need of planning help or inspiration, making them the markets of greatest potential for destinations.
  • Gen Z is strongly influenced by travel pictures posted by friends - so if you have a product that appeals to this segment - and they can afford it - you need a strong presence in social media. The same is true for Millennials, of which there are more. Don't outsource this - young people aren't stupid.
  • Across generations, you'll benefit from competent professional photography on your Web site and in ads.
  • Also across generations, you needs lots of favorable reviews - on TripAdvisor, Google, etc. - as well as informative content in all your marketing collateral. Don't do bogus reviews - you'll get caught.
  • You need to be visible and reachable in mobile devices, especially for younger prospects. If you're a restaurant, attraction, retail store or local tour, this is key for reaching prospects already at your destination.
  • Everyone is influenced by deals in ads, but Boomers (55%) more than most - significant especially for airlines and hotels, and at the destination.
  • Europeans of Gen X and younger are influenced by appealing imagery in ads. That means the subjects of the imagery, not just the photographic quality. Subject matter needs to appeal to your target demographic(s).
  • Boomers, on the other hand, are a lot more interested in the content of ads - aka well-written copy - than in pretty pictures. Don't disappoint them.

And if you have questions or comments, you can easily send them to me with the Quick Reply form, below, or send me an e-mail.

David Boggs    - David
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External Article: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/149354/Content_Docs/Premium_Content/Research_MultiGen_Travel_Trends_European_Travellers.pdf

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