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The Truth About How Different Generations Travel

The Truth About How Different Generations Travel

Generations travel: group of young women attending event in arena

Millennials love group trips with friends, especially with customized, unique experiences

A 20-something’s vision of the perfect vacation looks very different from a 40-something’s. Ditto a 50 year old versus an 80 year old. How do different generations travel?

A study by Virtuoso has uncovered how four generations choose to vacation. Virtuoso examined booking data for clients over the last six years, conducted focus groups with its travel advisors and included research from partner Wealth Engine. The results clearly demonstrate how generations travel in their own unique way.

Millennials (born 1983-1993)

This is the most populous generation. There are more Millennials than Generation Xers, Baby Boomers or Matures.

Millennials love to travel. They love customized, unique experiences – not cookie-cutter big brands. They also enjoy group trips with friends.

They’re building their careers and can’t take much time off from work. So they’re more likely to book trips within North America. And when they book, they want to know every little pricing detail.

Millennials value a travel advisor’s input once they start working with one

Before and after booking a trip, Millennials do lots of online research. They want information right away and rely on their smartphones. They view themselves as very knowledgeable. If they don’t know something, they can get the answer in a flash online. They like to book quickly, partly because they’re busy and distracted.

Currently 90 percent of them book travel online. And 87 percent use online travel agencies for research and rate comparisons.

Millennials want to be a partner in the booking process. A travel advisor can help them sort through all the available information. And once they find one they like and experience the value, they’re more loyal than other generations. They’ll also refer their friends.

On average, Millennials spend $527 a day on a vacation. Added all together, that’s 62 percent less than the Mature generation. However, when upscale Millennials find a travel advisor they fit well with, that gap closes to 24 per cent.

Generations travel: family on beachGeneration X enjoys relaxing in Sun Belt destinations with the family

Generation Xers (born 1965-1982)

Family life shapes the travel preferences of Generation X. The timing of their trips closely follows school calendars, and their destinations are closer to home. They enjoy Sun Belt spots, including Orlando, Miami Beach, Los Angeles, Mexico and the Caribbean.

These destinations, many of them beach oriented, reflect the top vacation motivation for Gen X. They want time to relax and unwind. Their top priority is a hotel stay.

They may not venture far. But Generation X spends the most each day while traveling at $627.

Gen Xers came of age just as online travel agencies appeared on the scene. Perhaps that’s why they’re much more likely to book a trip online than with a travel advisor. According to MMGY, 82% book travel online and 71% research their travel through OTAs.

Generations travel: a Baby Boomer couple in AntarcticaBaby Boomers have the money to travel – and do

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)

Baby Boomers have the money to travel – and they do. As Boomers transition into retirement, travel ranks among their top activities. Their average spend on travel remains relatively stable before growing rapidly after age 65. On average, they spend $522 a day while traveling.

Boomers have the highest concentration of the superaffluent ($5 to $25 million in investible assets) and ultraaffluent (more than $25 million) of any generation. So their travel spending is considerable.

They prefer diversity in their travels, with 19 percent favoring hotels, 26 percent preferring cruises and 28 percent opting for customized tours.

Among Boomers, 84% have purchased travel online and 72% have researched travel through OTAs.

Generations travel: older couple with pandaThe Matures – today’s seniors – spend more on travel than any other generation

Matures (born 1926-1945)

Travel factors significantly into the lives of today’s seniors. When you add up all their travel purchases, they spend more than any other generation. They spend an average of $471 a day on travel.

Matures love to cruise. It’s their top travel preference, especially in January. But compared to other generations that are more seasonal, their preference for a cruise vacation holds steady all year long.

They also enjoy reading about travel, especially magazines on the topic and catalogs of vacation offers.

Matures are the most loyal to their travel advisors. They’re also the most likely to book repeat trips through them.

A Return to Advisors

Interestingly, a majority of travelers regardless of generation say vacations booked through an advisor are better. A study by the American Society of Travel Agents found 59% of Millennials, 53% of Gen Xers and 58% of Baby Boomers say vacations planned with the help of an advisor were better than those organized without their help.

For this reason, more people are recognizing the value of travel advisors and working with them. If you’re ready to find an advisor who’s right for you, visit

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