Blog article - February 23, 2024

How to avoid the generation gap in travel?

How often have you heard others say that the new generation is wasting their lives on their phones in a digital environment? At Chain4Travel, we clearly understand that Digital is a new reality.

testimonial-photo By Vladimir Novikov

This article will help you better understand Gen Z or further new generations of travelers to avoid the "generation gap" in your products, communications, and overall business. Generation Z (GenZ), in particular, seems to be a phenomenon that is often discussed at travel conferences, events, or in the media. However, most travel companies struggle to understand the new audience clearly and consequently cater the offers, products, and user experiences to these new customers.

The solution might lie in the next iteration of the internet web3, which is accelerating rapidly. Slowly but surely, new business models are emerging, such as, which is entirely focused on serving these customers by leveraging blockchain and AI technologies.

Understanding GenZ

GenZ has a couple of names: Zoomers, iGen, Centennials, or Generation Z. If we look at demographics, these are the people born between 1996 and 2010. Kids born in 1996 were eight years old when Facebook was launched and 11 years old when Steve Jobs first presented the first iPhone in 2007. No wonder that both innovations significantly influenced the identity of the entire generation.

Top it up with climate anxiety, changing financial and political landscapes, lockdowns, new social media, and global access to the Internet, and you get a very interesting mixture of personal traits across the generation, representing 30% of the global population today.

Below is a table with GenZ vs. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) identity, values, fears, ideas, and habits.

AspectBaby BoomersGeneration Z
Digital channelsEmail, FacebookInstagram, TikTok, Snapchat
Booking experienceTraditional travel agencies or direct booking through official websites.Tend to book through mobile apps.
Influence sourcesRely on travel TV shows, brochures, magazines, and word of mouth from trusted friends or colleagues.Highly influenced by social media influencers, peer reviews, and viral content.
Decision makingDecisions are often influenced by security, comfort, convenience, and value for money.Decisions depend on unique experiences, personalization, and social media trends.
Content engagementEngage with detailed articles, reviews, and emails.Prefer engaging with visual content like photos, short videos, and interactive stories.
Travel inspirationInspired by bucket lists, historical landmarks, and classic vacation spots.Seeks off-the-beaten-path experiences, adventure travel, and destinations that perform well on social media.
Technology useComfortable with basic online functionalities and hesitant about new tech.Digital natives, highly adaptable to new technologies and platforms.
Social media behaviorPassive consumption of content; less likely to share personal experiences widely.Active content creators and sharers using platforms to document and share their travel experiences.
Value propositionValues straightforward, reliable information and traditional loyalty programs.Look for authenticity, sustainability, and customizable experiences.
Customer servicePrefers phone calls and face-to-face interactions for inquiries and bookings.Favors instant messaging, chatbots, and social media for quick answers and bookings.

Observing the preferences and behaviors of Baby Boomers and Generation Z, we can see a significant generational shift towards digital integration in daily life as well as in travel experiences. While Baby Boomers prioritize security, comfort, and traditional booking patterns, valuing direct interactions for customer service, Generation Z navigates travel just like all other aspects of life through digital lenses, heavily influenced by social media, seeking personalized and authentic experiences.

A new generation of value-based travelers

The digital era we are entering now has made changes in travel planning. First, Instagram with pictures and now global TikTokofication of content is reshaping how destinations are discovered and experienced. Travelers look for inspiration and information online. They follow influencers and watch DIY (do it yourself) YouTube travel shows shot on "iPhones" in places from cozy cafés in Paris to hidden trails in Peru.

According to multiple studies Gen Z prioritize sustainability, eco-friendliness, and ethical considerations in their travel choices. Surveys indicate that over 90% of Gen Z say that their international travel decisions are influenced by social media, with many willing to pay more for services that demonstrate environmental responsibility and embrace diversity and inclusion.

This new era of values-based travel behavior underscores the importance of innovation and adaptability in the travel industry. This shift has opened a new growing trend. Personalized travel experiences at scale are a blue ocean for travel companies. Travelers seek adventures tailored to their unique preferences and values, from customized tours by local guides to hotels and airlines adapting their offerings. It seems like the entire industry is moving away from one-size-fits-all to individualized, memorable experiences. But is it really moving?

Gen Z are web3 users

Web3 technologies are the first to fit perfectly well with the list of values of the new generation. Hence, nearly 94% of cryptocurrency buyers are between the ages of 18 and 40, with Gen Z and Millennials making up the majority, and 42% of Gen Z now engage with brands via web3. Web3 is a generational shift that is being widely adopted on various levels of digital life.

But what is the appeal of web3 for GenZ? It lies in three short words: read, write, own. The third chapter of the Internet provides users with control over data and identity. Unlike social media applications, we all are used to web3 applications, which can be accessed with digital wallets that carry the user's digital identity and any information they are willing to share. If you really would like to dive deep into the topic, there is a fresh book about the philosophy behind web3 to read.

With this new way of connectivity come new opportunities to personalize offers at scale. For example, "proof of attendance" at live events. With digital wallets and NFTs (non-fungible tokens), brands can share loyalty points with all regular attendees by just "airdropping" the tokens based on the number of events they attend. These relations are programmable and can be executed when certain conditions are met.

If this all sounds too complicated, this is a proper indicator for you to get in touch with our team and discuss the web3 strategy for your travel brand.

Navigating the era of connected consumer behavior

Now, when I hope you understand the notion behind Gen Z and web3 better, let's look at the ways to navigate all of this. Today, the key to success lies in understanding them from the customer's perspective and using gradual integrations of blockchain and AI digital tools to bridge the generation gap with scalable personalization, user-generated content, and community-driven strategies.

Listen to the presentation of Benjamin Usinger at Travel Un’chained 2024, where he clearly explains the future of AI and blockchain working together.

Personalization at scale

Finally, travel companies can satisfy the preferences and behaviors of Gen Z at scale. By integrating blockchain technology, travel service providers or distributors can analyze travelers' digital footprints stored in digital wallets. This information, including past travel experiences and preferences (like foodie or eco-friendly adventures), can be processed with AI to provide the traveler with the best-suiting offers. The first step in that direction is done by

User-generated content

Another strategy for connecting with Gen Z travelers is to consider user-generated content. With smart contracts, brands can easily and transparently reward contributors for sharing authentic stories online. A perfect example is Triend, which aims to establish trust in online reviews. By utilizing Camino Network, this startup validates travel-related reviews to ensure their authenticity for a higher level of trust in the digital space for businesses and consumers alike.

Driven by community

Gen Z's desire to belong to communities that share their values highlights a fundamental human desire for connection. Due to multiple reasons, the best way for them to connect is in the digital space. As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Digital is the new reality. With technologies becoming more accessible, the opportunity to build meaningful, value-driven communities grows.

The future of travel is inclusive

Although this article entirely focuses on Gen Z, they are not better or worse than other generations of travelers. But they are the most «different» and the most digitally immersed cohort currently active in travel. Their unique characteristics and preferences shape travel businesses’ new horizons and challenges. However, all other generations and cohorts of customers absolutely deserve attention, tailored products, and tuned communication. Let’s wisely use emerging solutions to bridge gaps, not just between digital and traditional practices but also among the varying expectations of different age groups, ensuring that everyone feels valued and understood.

Therefore, we, as Chain4Travel, being a part of the web3 travel ecosystem, clearly see the need for a community-driven and inclusive approach to developing new products. If you would like to contribute and bridge the generational gap in travel technologies, you are invited to join the community. Together, we can shape the future of travel, a future rooted in transparency, open-source innovation, and trust.

More blog posts