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Travel young – the best local experiences for the ‘now generation’

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5 min read

The World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) predicts that younger travellers in the 18-35 age group, who appear to be less vulnerable to COVID-19, will be among the first to begin travelling once again. Young, fun and adventurous, this group is ready to travel (now!) and looking for a very particular travel experience.

It is important for SMMEs to learn more about this generation to be able to target their marketing to this demographic.

But what do we know about the ‘now generation’? We know that they now make up over half of the world population (so ignore them at your peril); they place great value and importance on travel (keen to spread their wings and explore the world); and they are keen to devote their time, energy and resources to causes and life experiences that are important to them.

While it’s tempting to refer to this group blanketly as ‘Millennials’, it is slightly more nuanced than that.

In fact, Skift’s 2019 Millennial and Gen Z Traveller 2019 survey divides the youth travel category into Young Gen Z (16-18); Old Gen Z (19-22); Young Millennials (23-30); and Old Millennials (31-38).

What do these groups have in common? What do they do differently? And most importantly, how can SMMEs catch their attention?

The ‘now’ generation wants to:

Use technology when booking trips

This social-media-savvy generation is incredibly tech savvy. Planning and booking takes place online (often on a smartphone), so this is another important consideration when appealing to the now generation (unsurprisingly, immediacy is key). The Jurni booking tool offers a fantastic and affordable tool for SMMEs to get their product online quickly.

Tim Louw, Youth Chapter Vice-Chair, SATSA believes that “any travel agent, operator or establishment looking to attract the youth travel market, needs to offer solutions which cater to the different needs and preferences of a dynamic group of travellers, including: a strong social media presence; optimised website; simple (and fast) online booking solutions; interesting and unique holiday packages; competitive prices – and a youth-focussed offering appealing to social-and-environmentally conscious travellers.”

Engage on social media

Both Millennials and Gen Zs rely on social media, not only to plan and research their trips, but to share advice, experiences and reviews. But there are differences.

Broadly speaking, Skift found that Millennials in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia still prefer Facebook as their top social media site, while Gen Zs from the United States and Australia prefer YouTube, with those from the UK opting for Instagram.

This means any travel agent, operator or establishment looking to attract the youth travel market can no longer rely solely on a Facebook page. According to Viator, you should now start thinking about sharing content on YouTube, Instagram, and even Snapchat. Why? Because Generation Z likes rich video content that is easily accessible on their mobile phones. Consider filming videos of your experiences and product offering that can be posted in a longer format on YouTube, or as small snippets on Instagram and Snapchat. In their words, “ramping up your presence on these platforms is a great way to begin engaging with the next generation of passionate travellers”.

Experience new things – or traditional things in a new way

Viator (now known as TripAdvisor Experiences) believes that “Millennials and Gen Z are on the move, and they want to experience new things – or traditional things in a unique way”.

Essentially this means seeking out experiences unavailable at home; visiting cultural/natural attractions; exploring ‘off the beaten path’ destinations; focussing on ‘green’ or sustainable travel;  and trying something brand new.  

This is good news for South Africa, which has plenty of opportunity for adventurous, cultural and sustainable travel.

Just a few examples:

  • Cycling safaris in the African bush
  • Joining ‘foodie’ tours as far afield as Soweto, Kayamandi, Ga-Malahlela Village and the Bo Kaap!
  • Experiencing the Ribola Art Route and connecting with local artists, craftspeople and musicians through authentic, hands-on experiences
  • Joining conservation safaris and tracking cheetahs in the wild Karoo
  • Setting off on walking tours of Khayelitsha, Stellenbosch, Durban and Johannesburg
  • Soaking up the history and atmosphere of Vilakazi Street before hopping on a Soweto Tuk Tuk Tour
  • Following the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga
  • Learning more about the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) in Sutherland, before bundling up warmly for a stargazing safari
  • Tubing down the Storms River in Tsitsikamma
  • Volunteering to tag birds in northern KwaZulu-Natal

South Africa has a strong youth traveller offering, from backpacker accommodation, specialised tour operators, guides, unusual accommodation options (from organic farms to treehouses), language schools, volunteer organisations, international intern bodies and beautiful attractions, all eager to capture the youth market – as soon as travel returns.

The trick is to appeal to the now generation, talking their ‘language’ (authentic experiences, adventures, sustainable travel) while engaging with them on their platform of choice. 

There is no doubt that South Africa can provide fantastic local experiences for the intrepid youth traveller. The challenge is to make it a holistic, integrated and complete experience – from enquiry, to booking, and arrival to review!

Jurni is committed to supporting SMMEs during this difficult time to make sure you are prepared for the future. Our booking tool will go live on October 1, 2020. Make sure you register today!

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