Millennials just want to be happy. So what is the ‘industry of happiness’ doing about it?

"Her Flying Red Shoes"  by Faisal Akram (Source: Wiki Commons)

Research on Millennials consistently points to their desire to attain happiness ahead of the other priorities in life. This opens up a golden opportunity for the travel and tourism industry.

There are lots of theories about quite what is making Gen Y (at least in the Western world) such an anxious and apprehensive generation. Is it the economic crisis? Is it social media and #FOMO (fear of missing out) that it creates?  Perhaps it’s school exam systems or busy parents who don’t have the time to sit down and talk about it all?

Of course feelings of uncertainty and insecurity about your identity and the world around you has always been part of growing up. But then previous generations didn’t face quite the same anxieties over peer pressure, body image, school grades, job prospects, debts and everything in between that young people face today. And yes, while social media is a great connector, it often helps to reinforce, rather than reassure young people about those anxieties. At the same time,  growing up in the era of 24-hour news and social media has made Millennials more aware of what’s going on in their immediate community of friends as well as major events further away. This has produced a generation that’s more fired-up about global issues and ready to step in to participate than their parents were. At the same time, it has made this generation (and their parents) acutely aware of how the global economic crisis is affecting them, and could affect them in terms of job prospects and future financial security.

Under pressure

"Her Flying Red Shoes"  by Faisal Akram (Source: Wiki Commons) So it’s not surprising when research like Voxburner’s Youth Trends 2015 (covered here by my friends at ICEF Monitor) highlights  a generation that feels under pressure to “succeed in life’ (79% of 16-24 year olds), or is worried about being financially stable (75%) or able to find a good career (73%). When Viacom asked Millennials around the world ‘will you earn more than your parents in the future?’, in Australia only 15% of 15-24 year olds, and 17% of 25-30 year olds thought that they would – and that’s in a country which did pretty well during the crisis years. Across the developed world the global economic crisis has produced real wariness over what the future holds. Today, even an expensive education doesn’t automatically lead to a well-paid job with good conditions.

– How do you define success?

– ‘Being happy’

In the face of this uncertaintly, Millennials are adjusting their expectations from life. I think that’s what’s behind the number one response that Millennials gave in the Viacom survey when asked ‘How do you define success?’. By far the top answer was ‘being happy’ (73%) followed by ‘being part of a loving family’ (58%) and much further ahead than material things such as ‘being rich’ (36%) or ‘driving a nice car’ (just 5%). Perhaps this generation has started to realise that with the best will in the world, top jobs are tough to get (and not always pleasant), fame can be more trouble than it’s worth, and flashy cars and homes don’t impress their peers like they used to in years gone by.

Travel is the antidote

Insights like this can teach us important lessons about this generation’s priorities when it comes to travel, and how travel marketers can respond. In the first instance, there’s a big opportunity to position travel as the key to attaining that happiness, ahead of other big purchase decisions on property or cars. In essence, this means converting the ‘dreamers’ into ‘travellers’, making sure your destination is front-of-mind when that conversion happens. This challenge was highlighted by Sally Balcombe, CEO of VisitBritain in her recent interview with Skift in which she made it clear that ‘creating the urgency to visit now’ is something all DMOs are looking to do in a crowded marketplace. In 2013 G Adventures surveyed over 2300 people and found that nearly 3 in 4 respondents said that travel was more vital to their happiness than getting car, a house, having a baby or getting married. This sounds like the Millennials talking!

The same survey also found that it’s ‘new experiences’ that make travel so pleasing. This points to another important lesson – that while this generation might be stressed, the answer doesn’t necessarily have to be relaxation. Remember we’re talking about the youth market here, so highlighting adventure, action, curiosity and fun is essential.  It’s all about disconnection from stress through the experience of trying new things, meeting new people and learning new skills. It’s important not to undervalue the value of travel in teaching new skills and boosting the confidence of an anxious generation looking for reassurance, something I’ll address in my next post.

With all this in mind, perhaps it’s time to consider how your brand proposition is really speaking to this generation and offering the promise of happiness, in whichever form that comes. When we read about Millennials and travel, we tend to read a lot about their use of technology, their love of social media and a funky hotel, but it’s important to remember that there’s a much wider bank of knowledge available on the Millennial generation’s emotions, life experience and anxieties that can help us to develop the products and create the marketing messages that will really hit the right notes with Millennials.

Putting it into practice

In my work with tourism boards and travel brands I make a point of widening the focus to what else is going on with Millennials as this helps them to gain a wider perspective on what this generation is about and use this as a starting point to think more carefully about the products that they’re offering.

I look forward to coming back to this subject in future posts, and if you’re interested to learn more, just drop me a line via Twitter @genctraveller 🙂


Making Mexico’s Tourism Match Millennial Expectations


Tourism is a highly resistant sector of the global economy, and nowhere is this more evident than in Mexico. Despite some hard-hitting headlines exposing corruption and the country’s long struggle against drug cartel-related Mexican Tourism Uncoveredviolence, the number of travellers choosing to take their holidays there beat records last year, with 19.3m international tourism arrivals in the period January-August.

Sadly, too often the rest of the world only associates Mexico with instability and violence, and yet the tourism figures tell a different story. Travellers, especially from the US and Canada who are more familiar with the country and take regular visits are more able to put the risks into perspective, know where to go and what Mexico really has to offer.

Putting Mexico’s tourism into perspective is what Toposophy’s latest report Mexican Tourism Uncovered does and the results will give a lot of food for thought, especially if you’re doing business with Mexico. I’m proud to have worked on this report with my Toposophy colleagues, and unveiling what’s really going on in Latin America’s second biggest economy has been an exciting learning experience.

The report, published earlier this month identifies a whole range of issues that Mexican authorities and the business community will need to address if the country is to benefit fully from the recovery of the US economy, continued growth in outbound travel from the emerging markets, from attracting new types of consumer (not least Millennial travellers) in the 21st century. This is essential because, as the report states:

“Millennials question the way things are done and are rapidly changing the world as we know it. For the tourism and hospitality industry, their self-assurance has brought with it a storm of new consumer expectations creating a system in which successful destinations and businesses will be those which explore and respond positively to the broad spectrum of economic, societal and environmental changes that are taking place, especially those driven by the Millennial generation”.

Helping Millennials beyond Mexico’s traditional source markets of the US and Canada to understand what visiting Mexico would really be like is a seriously pressing issue. The reality of travelling around Mexico and where the richest parts of its cultural heritage are to be found is still relatively unfamiliar to audiences outside of North America. Being honest and transparent about the country’s image should pay dividends with a younger, more fearless generation looking to explore ‘off the beaten track’ and meet the locals.

On that subject, local authorities and businesses will have to work hard together (something which, to date, can only be found in a handful of destinations) if they are to properly understand who is visiting and what they are really looking for from their vacation experience. For too long, resorts have focussed on attracting the same visitors year after year, while ignoring the major opportunities that are opening up in emerging markets, and the fact that travellers’ tastes have changed. Getting up to speed with digital technologies and boosting business tourism are just two extra areas for Mexico’s tourism industry to focus on in the coming years. To find out what can be done to orientate Mexico’s tourism towards 21st century travellers, download the report today.



Last minute leisure

Last minute leisure

The time lapse from dreaming to booking to escaping just got even shorter – and it’s Gen C Travellers who are driving this new trend.

‘The early bird catches the worm’ has bLast minute leisureeen the mantra of the travel and tourism industry for many years now, driven by the rise of online booking that encouraged early bookers to take advantage of the lowest fares or cheapest hotel rooms. As a result, travel companies such as airlines take last minute bookings – whether online or at the airport sales desk as a sign that desperate travellers are willing to pay a premium to get to where they want to go. But what if a new trend in traveller behaviour was to challenge the approach of penalising the last-minute traveller?

Recent research on traveller spontaneity has revealed that in the UK 19% of travellers (6 million people in total) use their mobile phone to book getaway breaks on the day of travel and over half (59%) are booking getaway breaks in the same week they depart. (which commissioned the research) also reported that more and more customers book hotels between 6pm and midnight for stays that very night, taking last minute living to a whole new level. Just in the last quarter of 2014 the company reported that mobile traffic and bookings had ‘increased significantly’.

Research by a company like Lastminute whose model is built on spontaneous bookings is hardly likely to show that customers prefer to book earlier, however these figures do highlight some wider issues for the travel industry driven by increased use of mobile devices in planning and booking travel:

Make no mistake – Gen C Travellers, the connected generation, is driving this trend in spontaneous booking.

  • Connectedness is at the heart of this trend: constant connectedness while on the move makes it possible for Gen C to book with confidence at the last minute
  • Real-time updates and wider experience in shopping online and receiving goods on the same day gives consumers increased confidence in booking big-ticket items with shorter lead times
  • Price comparison websites show thousands of results at a time from a whole host of providers. It used to be that trips required huge amounts of planning but unless there’s a major event on, a basic web search is pretty much guaranteed to bring up somewhere to stay, and if flights, hotels, and activities are packaged and presented to make one-touch mobile bookings easier, this further increases convenience and thus consumers’ confidence in booking in this way.
  • Shorter lead times make planning more difficult for hotels and airlines. However, those who are agile enough could stand to win as they offer spare capacity and sell off perishable stock (ie. hotel rooms that can only be sold once before they go out of date.

With January upon us, it’s hard to miss the usual splurge of online, TV and newspaper adverts aiming to encourage January holiday bookings for the summer season. But what about the increasing numbers of travellers who make their booking just six hours before departure, rather than six months?

Reaching these travellers will mean that the game of catching these consumers’ imagination and encouraging them to book just got much much shorter. Rather than carry out a drip-drip process of inspiration and enticement over a period of months, the key will be to work with those companies that offer last-minute deals to make the journey from inspiration to booking occur within a matter of hours.

And where are spontaneous bookers (often bored, desperate 9-5 office workers) likely to be trawling in the crucial few hours before booking? On social media of course. Thus round-the clock social media management has just taken on even greater importance in the world of destination promotion. Loyalty schemes will also have to adapt to this trend because if they don’t then a more nimble provider will get in there with an offer first.

A few more interesting facts from Lastminute’s research:

  • A third of British travel and leisure spend is spontaneous: of the 5.62 annual holidays and short breaks they take, 2.13 were booked less than three weeks before departure. And out of every £3 spent last year by Brits on travel and leisure £1 went to spontaneous trips and outings (£1,933 out of £6,073).
  •  Over half of Brits (56%) say the best decisions they had ever made were spontaneous (OnePoll survey commissioned by, with 2,000 adults in the UK in July 2014)
  • 44% of Brits have booked a holiday or break completely on a whim (OnePoll survey commissioned by, with 2,000 adults in the UK in July 2014)
  • Almost a third of Brits (32%) say they totally rely on their gut feeling when making a decision (OnePoll survey commissioned by, with 2,000 adults in the UK in July 2014)
  • Brits think about just quickly getting away spontaneously almost five times per week (Yougov survey commissioned by, with 2,200 adults in April 2013)

The top 10 most common decisions made on a whim by Brits:

(OnePoll survey commissioned by, with 2,000 British adults in July 2014)

  1. Booked a holiday / break
  2. Bought a television or big gadget
  3. Dyed my hair
  4. Went out one night which turned out to be the most amazing night ever
  5. Quit my job
  6. Started a whole new hobby / passion
  7. Just packed the bags and went to a place I always wanted to go to
  8. Asked someone out on a date
  9. Got a tattoo
  10. Been unfaithful

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14 things I learned in 2014

Birthday Cupcake With Lit Candle

The New Year is here and list-fever is upon us, so I’ll try to keep this light. In any case, I have a reason to celebrate as today Gen C Traveller celebrates its first anniversary; as a consultancy business and as an educational industry blog. So I’d like to start by thanking all my clients for working with me for this past year, and of course all my followers for their interest in this site.

Without doubt I’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable and educational year. However if you had asked me just six monthBirthday Cupcake With Lit Candles before I set up my company if I could imagine working for myself, negotiating contracts, seeking partners and doing all the admin I’d have surely said ‘no’, believing that relying on the comfortable (if predictable) rhythm of office life was the only viable format for developing one’s career and assuring personal wellbeing.

However one of the signs of the times that we live in (and certainly for those of my generation) is that circumstances can change. It turns out I’m not the only one that has discovered this. In fact, the notion that jobs don’t last forever and that self-reliance is becoming essential to survival is are themes that have cropped up constantly as I have researched the lifestyles, consumer habits and attitudes of the Millennial generation. It’s one of the major factors that is making my generation so restless, disruptive and unwilling to take the status quo for granted.

One year’s work as a consultant on Millennial travel trends has taken me to fourteen countries, including Australia, Thailand, Macau and Japan,  brought me ten great clients (all of them international brands and leaders in their field) and, in the process taught me more about the subject I enjoy than I could ever have learned while working under the constraints of one single organisation. All this has given me valuable knowledge that I do my best to share with the people I work with. An added bonus is that this way of working has brought me into contact with many warm-hearted, talented professionals who I may never otherwise have met.

So, based on all the above, please allow me to share the 14 things that I learned from my work and travel in 2014:

1. Nine to five, Monday to Friday isn’t the only way of working

I’m not talking about those who work nights, long shifts or outside of standard office hours (though I have learned to respect them more, counting myself lucky that I’m not obliged to work that way). I’m talking about working inside and outside an office environment. Having worked inside and outside such an environment has taught me a lot about the advantages and disadvantages of each way of working.
I totally understand those who say that they need the structure and discipline that office life brings them. Being employed (especially if it’s in a country with good labour laws and social benefits) can bring you holiday pay, sick leave, maternity pay and regular pension payments, all of which (apart from maternity pay) that I have to work out for myself. It’s also true that solo working isn’t for everybody and being surrounded by colleagues can, provided they are decent folk, bring you much inspiration, knowledge and support when you need it. On the other hand, they can also drag you into unnecessary meetings, office politics and dead-end projects too, all of which you are generally liberated from if you work for yourself, giving you the freedom to learn new things and work on the areas that really interest you. Throughout this year it’s been good to meet many people who work in all kinds of sectors who have decided to ‘go it alone’. Incidentally, in November I discovered this author’s thought-provoking take on what the 40-hour week is really for.

2. “I get so much more done when I work from home”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard this from friends and industry colleagues. ‘It allows me to focus on what I’m doing, making me more productive’ is usually the main reason they give for wanting to work from home, and I know that they mean it. Working from home certainly doesn’t mean laying round in your pyjamas all day (at least not for me, anyway). I believe that this year I have worked more hours, more intensely than any year in the past.  That’s not always easy because working in the comfort of your home can definitely be a major distraction; the dishwasher needs to be emptied, the rubbish needs taking out, something needs fixing (see no.3 for my solution to that). But this style of working can provide the flexibility to allow you to lead a healthier life, care properly for those you love and give you greater mental focus to ensure work is done better.

3. Go out!

Working for yourself certainly doesn’t have to mean working alone. With coffee, Wi-Fi and reasonably calm

Amsterdam's main library is an amazing building and somewhere I actually look forward to going to get work done

Amsterdam’s main library is an amazing building and somewhere I actually look forward to going to get work done

surroundings it’s amazing how much you can get done. The psychological impact of being surrounded by other people doing the same as you is considerable, and I’m fortunate to live in Amsterdam where work spaces (free or rentable) are in abundance.

4. Millennials really are shaking up the status quo

Young people have always rebelled against the conditions imposed on them by their elders but this generation (currently aged 18-34) is crucially different. I’ve covered this theme a lot on my website this year so I’ll leave you to read on, but Millennials are giving much for government, business and civil society to worry about and give hope in equal measure.

5. ‘A third of Millennials have a tattoo’

No they don’t. I don’t know who generates headlines like that but they are probably the same people who assume that Millennials happen to be one nationality (usually American). It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised to discover how much supposed research on ‘Millennials’ comes from such a small sample-base, is based on questionable surveying methods or comes from US media outlets (then copied worldwide via social media) discussing US Millennials as though their attitudes and behaviour are replicated the world over. They are not. All kinds of cultural, economic and political factors influence the way young people in different countries think and behave. It’s why, this time last year I insisted on completing The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller while based in Asia and the experience taught me more than 1,000 industry surveys could have done.

6. Millennials are not all happy-clappy hostellers

Many are, and that’s great. However I believe that the travel industry is best served when we look at the subtleties of The Rise of the Young Asian Travellerbehaviour by the masses, not by the few, and that means looking at how the bulk of Millennial travellers behave and not necessarily the fraction that are often the most visible to those who work in what is the youth travel industry in the strictest sense (hostels, adventure sports, youth tour operators…). There’s an irritating tendency (of which I have been guilty in the past) of assuming that all young travellers are just like us.

7. Time is precious. Time off even more-so.

In Europe we really have no idea how lucky we are. Sure, many people know that the average worker in the US gets 10 days’ vacation per year (and not all of those are taken) but what about those in the emerging economies of Asia and Latin America? In China, Korea and even Brazil, the idea of disappearing on a two-week break to Europe is still a distant dream for all but the most privileged families who have the money and therefore less pressure to work. In Chile, I have friends for whom it is normal to work six long days per week. Whatever the law says, young Koreans are lucky if they get five days’ holiday per year. A friend in Taiwan with a good, respectable office job gets seven days’ holiday per year. Mexicans work the longest hours of any OECD country and Brazilians tend to use their public holidays for sleeping off long working hours the rest of the year. Sometimes the reality is no time off due to the considerable pressure from management in many companies not to take any leave at all. None of this seems fair, but it is precisely the work ethic and long hours that make these countries the emerging markets that commentators in Europe love to write about so much.

When I lived in Spain it seemed that there was a public holiday roughly every two weeks. Sometimes there were holidays to recover from holidays. While some European countries have more holidays and festivals than others (and it’s part of their charm of course!), we are on the whole very lucky. This is also a fact that destinations and businesses in Europe will need to understand properly if they want to design the right products for young travellers with little time on their hands.

8. Travel is as stressful as you make it

When I did my training to become a tour director for a large US tour company that operated educational trips in Europe, one of the first things they said was that ‘you’re travelling, so things will go wrong’, so you do have to chill out and accept that. Even when it goes right, it’s not always pleasant. I completely understand why people find long-haul flights stressful and uncomfortable. It’s not normal for human beings to be sealed in a metal can for 7 hours or more and catapulted at over 500km per hour from one continent to another. However….

9. The advice on the travel websites really does work

For me, long-haul travel to 14 countries in 2014 confirmed the following essentials:
– Drink LOADS of water. After that first welcome drink, completely avoid alcohol and caffeine.
– Wear really comfortable clothes. With the lights off it’s OK to change into pyjamas and socks and try to sleep like at home.
– Select your seat in advance. Airport check-in these days is a lottery, so check websites like to avoid nasty surprises and you’ll know what you’re getting when you step on
– Be extra nice to the crew. They are human beings too, and have a tough job. Besides, when you’re nice and polite you’ll be surprised what extra pillows and blankets and other hidden extras they can find.

10. Smartphone freedom

I’ve drafted contracts while on the train. I’ve paid my rent from the beach and had Skype meetings while at the airport. Wi-fi and mobile devices free us up from doing all those things while at a desk in an office. The question however, is how we really use the time that it frees up for us. Staring at your smartphone for hours on end can also mean hours of missed opportunities for learning, for laughs and even for love, as revealed in Gary Turk’s moving video ‘Look Up’ which I discovered in November this year.

And now for some personal touches…

11. The cheapest haircuts are the best

On a brief visit to Ho Chi Minh City in March, I got a haircut that cost 80,000 Vietnamese Dong (3 euros). It was the fastest and smartest haircut I’ve ever had. And the barber serenaded my friend and I with his guitar afterwards!

12. Running works

After many years of avoiding it, in 2014 I bought some running shoes and took to the running machine (and the park, and the seafront…). Testimonies from friends both online and offline persuaded me that running would help to shift the weight I’d wanted to deal with for so long, and it seems that they were right. Even just a brief jog aerates your lungs and most of all, gives you back a feeling of control over your mental and physical health. That’s priceless.

13. Travelling makes you talk to strangers, and that’s a good thing.

It sounds corny but gate agents, flight attendants, bus drivers and even random people in the street can all be nice people if you smile and talk to them. I don’t mean talking in a creepy way, but being British I sometimes feel I was born with an in-built aversion to talking to strangers. Travelling and needing to talk to strangers when you need help is a good way to overcome that.

14. Look up from what you are doing, stretch your neck and head and breathe.

A simple exercise that’s easy to forget, and one that really works.

Happy New Year to you all. Here’s to a happy, healthy and travel-filled 2015!

Discovering the Silk Road from where it started


As the emerging outbound markets have, understandably, grabbed the headlines in recent years due to their strong growth, it’s easy to overlook the fact that on the whole Japanese travellers have always been loyal, high-spending and relatively adventurous.

With a ‘travel career’ many years ahead of their Asian neighbours, Japanese travellers are older, more mature and looking to move beyond their more familiar long haul markets. Partly for this reason, and due to greater ease of access, greater numbers of Japanese outbound travellers have started to visit destinations along the Silk Road. Invited by UNWTO, which has a project to encourage partnerships among all in the tourism industry along the Silk Road, I joined a panel event held at JATA Expo Tokyo 2014 which turned up some interesting facts…

Stretching from Japan through to Italy (though there were many more places associated with the trade of Silk and other goods along the route), the Silk Road project spearheaded by UNWTO seeks to unite the destinations along the route around the common causes of boosting their economies through increasing tourism access, improving visa facilitation and gaining greater exposure to the key outbound source markets.

The aim of this seminar was to encourage more Japanese outbound operators to take an interest in Silk Road destinations and for those operators who were based along the route to discuss how government agencies could help them more in their promotion and management efforts.

In debating how to attract and retain Japanese visitors, naturally the discussion turned to the characteristics of the outbound Japanese market, and visitor profiles. Operators running tours on all parts of the Silk Road were able to confirm that the Japanese value the chance to see cultural artefacts (especially UNESCO World Heritage monuments) very highly. As confirmed by Peter Wong, Executive Chairman of the China Chamber of Tourism, they also leap at the chance to stay in hotels and guesthouses that have character themselves, especially if they are also listed monuments.

Current political tensions between Japan and China aren’t helping visitor flows to the Chinese sections of the Silk Road due to increased visa restrictions, however many other countries have improved access with either no requirement to obtain visas before departure (eg. Georgia) or e-visa schemes on arrival. It’s normal for even first-time visitors to try to visit 2-3 countries in one visit, so ease of access is important.

Aside from the thorny issue of visa facilitation, tour operators expressed their desire for more support from national tourism administrations with running familiarization tours for the Japanese travel media.

One theme that all presenters highlighted was travellers’ increased desire for authenticity of experiences at all stages of their journey. Silk Road destinations offer this in bucketloads, with operators understanding the need for local people to meet visitors, share their traditions (crafts, food) with guests. However, as Peter Wong pointed out, authenticity is something that is easily snuffed out as some Chinese cities are particularly good at building ‘white elephants in the desert’, hoping to recreate entire European villages or Egyptian temples. This is clearly something to be avoided at all costs.


If access and facilities continue to improve along the Silk Road (with local people involved at every step) this is something that should bode well for attracting greater numbers of Millennial, Gen C Travellers, in addition to the greater numbers of predominantly older Japanese travellers who are visiting.

To learn more about the UNWTO’s programme for assisting Silk Road destinations click here.

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How to turn Chinese dreams into bookings

The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller

It’s official: Australia has been voted the Nº1 dream destination by young Chinese travellers. Young Koreans, Japanese, Malaysians and Vietnamese have also placed the country in the top 3 of their travel bucket list in a recent study by the Pacific Asia Travel Association.

 This exciting news for the Australian youth travel industry was revealed in the latest report The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller, released just last month by PATA, an organisation that’s been analysing Asia travel trends and bringing the industry in the region together for more than six decades.

I’m proud to have authored this report for PATA, and those of you who attended ATEC’s Australian Youth Travel Conference in Sydney earlier this year will recall that I shared some of the very early results of this study, which gathered data from nearly 3,000 people aged 15-29 from across 13 countries in Northeast and Southeast Asia.

What did our young Asian respondents tell us? The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller

 Here are a few highlights…

  •  37% funded their travel directly from their parents
  • The biggest motivator to travel is to visit somewhere they’ve never been before
  • Traveller review sites such as TripAdvisor are the most trusted source of information before departure, followed by tips from family and friends
  • Budget hotels, rather than hostels are the preferred option. Nearly 1 in 5 young Asian travellers stayed in a 4-5 star hotel on their last trip
  • France and the United States are the top dream destinations for all those surveyed, followed by Australia, Japan and Italy

Check out the Executive Summary

No-one’s ever targeted the Asian youth audience on such a scale before, and the results really give the Australian youth travel industry some food for thought, or rather, some challenging questions to answer. Why? Because while Australia is high on the dream list, the challenge for the Australian tourism industry (and not just those directly concerned with the youth market) is threefold:

  • How to beat the competition (there is a lot out there)?
  • How to meet or exceed traveller expectations on the ground?
  • How to maximise traveller spend, peer recommendations and repeat visits?

As I discussed in my recent reaction to Tourism Australia’s Managing Director John O’Sullivan’s recent interview with The Byte, Tourism Australia is placing a high priority on making Australian tourism China-ready. At the same time, he admitted that TA doesn’t currently have a youth-strategy. With big potential for further growth (and not just from China), and with equally big questions for the Australian youth travel industry to answer, perhaps it’s time to make one?

So rather than batter you with more statistics, I’m going to throw a few grenade style questions that we all need to consider for the years ahead…

  • Chinese currently represent 11% of youth arrivals and has been the fastest growing market for 4-5 years. However, in focussing on China alone is Australia putting all its eggs in one basket?
  • Australia isn’t the only big hitter out there. For time-pressed students and young professionals, nearby Asian destinations are cheap and easy to get to , while European destinations have been gearing up for Asian growth for years. Does Australia have an eye on the competition in the youth market?
  • Students can be are tourists too. Studying is the main reason that young Chinese come to Australia in the first place. How can the youth travel industry leverage its partnerships with the education sector?
  • Is the country’s infrastructure (hostels, tours, adventure sports activities) well geared towards the tastes of the modern Millennial traveller?
  • Australians have toured Europe for decades, getting a good understanding of what a good working holiday should involve (ie. a lot of drinking, a lot of adventure). Does this work the same way for young Taiwanese, Koreans or Hongkongese? How well does the Australian youth travel industry understand its emerging markets?

The questions are big, but so too are the opportunities. Again, it’s reassuring and to see Australia placed so highly in young Asians’ dream list of destinations. But turning those dreams into bookings, bed-nights and subsequent positive reviews online is going to require a huge amount of education, training and most of all, teamwork.

In future posts I’ll be discussing the implications of this report for other destinations, as well as looking at ways to put the report’s recommendations into practice.

How to get hold of The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller

PATA Members of certain categories are able to access the full report free of charge, while others will be able to purchase it for a fee. Take a look at the Executive Summary to find out more.


Peter Jordan, Founder, Gen C Traveller

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¿Qué es la Generación ‘C’?

PATA Youth travel survey

Bienvenido a mi primer post en español: La mejor oportunidad para explicar qué es un viajero de la Generación C – el foco de mi trabajo diario con destinos turísticos y las principales marcas turísticas en todo el mundo.

Entender la Generación ‘Gen’ C es entender el viajero del siglo XXI. El comportamiento del consumidor Gen C en planificar, reservar, experimentar y compartir sus viajes ya está teniendo un impacto importante en el sector turístico global y debido al crecimiento de los mercados emergentes su impacto será más importante todavía. Disponiendo de nuevas formas de comunicarse, colaborar y compartir sus recursos e intereses (cada vez más a través de la economía colaborativa), esta generación está sacudiendo fuertemente la cadena de valor turístico tradicional.

Según Google, la Gen C representa una fuerza poderosa en la cultura del consumidor. Es un término útil para referirse a los viajeros que toman muy en serio la creación de contenidos, la acumulación de nuevas experiencias y de contactos tanto ‘online’ como ‘offline’. En resumen:

  • Ser parte de la Gen C es una forma de pensar
  • La Gen C siempre busca nuevas formas de expresarse
  • La Gen C define los gustos de moda
  • La Gen C es líder en las redes sociales
  • La Gen C está permanentemente conectada
  • La Gen C valora altamente la relevancia y la originalidad

El informe de 2010 realizado por la consultora Booz&Co, describe en inglés las características de la ‘Gen C’:

  • Connected
  • Communicating
  • Content-centric
  • Computerised
  • Community-orientated, and…
  • Always clicking

Los Millennials son cada vez más influyentes y tienen cada vez más poder adquisitivo. Por ello es fundamental entender sus formas de viajar, consumir y compartir sus vidas con otros consumidores.

Este sitio web está redactado y gestionado por Peter Jordan, observador y estratega de tendencias de ‘Millennials’ y consultor para el sector turístico. El objetivo de estas páginas es de ayudarte a entender como los viajeros de la Gen C (sobre todo los Millennials) interactúa con distintos productos y servicios en cada momento de su viaje.

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