Worldwide: Though travel marketers often talk about appealing to millennial / Gen Z consumers, new research by Expedia suggests the younger Generation Alpha are increasingly influencing travel purchase decisions.
Gen Alpha, which refers to those born after 2010, is showing more signs of influencing family travel decisions and planning than previously thought, according to Expedia Group Media Solutions’ “Generation Alpha & Family Travel Trends” study.
Although they do not make the purchases themselves, the tech-savvy generation is predicted to become the richest, longest-living and most well-educated generation by the time its numbers reach close to two billion by 2025.
The study, which was unveiled at Phocuswright Europe in Amsterdam earlier this month, included the responses of more than nine thousand consumers across nine countries who have children or grandchildren aged nine or younger.
As revealed by the study, more than eight in travellers said that planning a family trip is a combined effort for the entire family, while 60 per cent of those surveyed said that travel ideas come from both children and adults.
The findings say that many of the travel decisions that families make are due to trying to satisfy the younger Generation Alpha.
For family travellers, 95 per cent said their priority was keeping their families entertained and happy, while deals and value (89 per cent), outdoor activities (85 per cent) and planning travel around school holidays (85 per cent) or near major attractions or theme parts (85 per cent) were also of utmost importance.
As a result, travel marketers should look to highlight what they are offering rather than solely the price, according to Expedia Group Media Solutions senior director Andrew Van der Feltz.
Van der Feltz told Phocuswright: “Experience beats expense so drive with the experience, not with the, deal at the forefront.”
The findings of the survey also highlighted:
• Around 28 per cent of family travellers say the type of trip they look for is a family play vacation, ahead of a relaxing trip (27 per cent), a holiday to visit family or friends (13 per cent) and a sightseeing vacation (11 per cent).
• 68 per cent of travellers plan domestic travel with average trip durations of almost seven days
• Plane remains the preferred mode of transport for family travellers (54 per cent), followed by car at 47 per cent, long-distance train (seven per cent), long-distance bus (five per cent) and a boat or ferry (five per cent).
The Expedia survey also attributes the rise of the bleisure phenomenon, accommodation selection and transportation in part to Generation Alpha, as families with younger travellers take on average three or more family trips per year, including at least one bleisure trip.
Van der Feltz said: “In particular, the millennial generation has changed [the bleisure concept]. Working from home doesn’t mean working from your kitchen; it means working from international destinations, and as millennials start having children, why would that slow down?”
Accommodation providers themselves have a role to play in providing family-friendly offerings to those travellers moving around with the Alpha generation, while also taking into account the business traveller elements.
Hotels are currently the preferred accommodation choice for family travellers (60 per cent), ahead of resorts (21 per cent) and family and friends (17 per cent). Vacation rentals are the accommodation type of choice for only 16 per cent of those surveyed with Generation Alpha travellers.
Van der Feltz believes this vacation rental trend may be down to not offering the right product in specific destinations for family travellers.
He said: “Time will tell if vacation rentals become more popular for families, but for now, it’s dominated by hotels, and hotels are also changing very much to become more child friendly.”
Although travel review sites or OTAs (63 per cent) and friends or family (46 per cent) are most influential in making family travel decisions, youngsters are the driving force for more than 43 per cent of those who responded.
Parents and grandparents believe the travel opinions of Gen Alphas are coming from travel-related imagery or information they see that highlights kid-friendly activities or attractions on TV or online.
While 94 per cent of adults make the final decisions, Gen Alphas have an influence on the destination their parents select (64 per cent), the activities they do (57 per cent) and the length of the trip and the hotel selection (both 37 per cent).
Van der Feltz said: “Marketing is done always at the end user – the adult in this case – and the fact that children are so influential makes it a challenge for marketers. You don’t want to go down the road of advertising to children, so for marketers, the crucial point is, how do you drive that collaborative process?”
Much success in persuading family travellers depends on targeting them when they are deciding where to go.
Feltz says that travel marketers should use these statistics to inform their strategies as “there is so much content out there and families need guidance in order to bring that to a succinct point in order to make a concise decision”.