How Each Generation Approaches Buying Travel

As a travel advisor, it’s important to know how different generations act. But more importantly, you need to know why they act the way that they do. Jason Dorsey, president of The Center for Generational Kinetics, spoke on the topic at Signature Travel Network’s Sales Conference at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.

Dorsey was contracted by Signature to find out more about the habits of the different generations (Gen Z, born 1996-present; Millennials, 1977-95; Gen X, 1965-76; and Baby Boomers, 1946-64), how they affect each other and what causes them to act so.

What Makes Each Generation Tick?

One of Dorsey’s first and primary points is that travel is following the same trend as technology. And yes, that does mean that technology will influence the way people see travel, book travel and actually travel. But Dorsey also found that we are now in a time where tech is aimed for the youngest generations and it’s the older generations who have to catch up; only ten years ago this was swapped. So, to Dorsey’s point, travel must be aimed at the youngest generations. “If you miss on younger generations, you miss older generations,” Dorsey explained.

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While Gen Z isn’t full of independent travelers yet, they could soon have a massive impact on travel—even larger than Millennials, Dorsey explained. However, for the time being, Millennials rank at the top as the largest portion of the workforce and the largest spenders in travel. They are also the generation most willing to spend extra to work with advisors, Dorsey’s research found. While Millennials may be puzzling to some, they have, far-and-away, the most potential for advisors right now. Millennials are educated and they will have plenty of questions but the opportunity is there.

Generation X may prove to be a more difficult sale. Dorsey explains that Gen Xers are naturally skeptical. He says they live by the term “trust but verify;” in other words, they will want to see everything broken down for them. It may be extra work convincing a Gen Xer to go on that trip but Dorsey also found that this generation is the most loyal—and, even better, they are loyal to individuals, not companies. If you can gain the trust of a Gen Xer, you may have a client for life.

Many of you have likely been working with Baby Boomers for years now, meaning you know how they work. Dorsey’s research found that Boomers value work hours, and abide by the phrase “policy, procedure, protocol.” Likely, you’ve experienced the straightforwardness of Boomers and how they expect business to be conducted.

Back to that youngest generation, the Gen Z group. They were raised by Gen Xers and older Millennials—many of whom were working during the recession in 2008. Because of this, they grew up understanding the value or the dollar and its ability to vanish. In other words, they’re very conservative with their money. While many Millennials have a bleak outlook on the economy, this same mindset was imprinted on Gen Z at a young age and are therefore just as weary—although they aren’t looking to end up like Millennials (who, Dorsey explains could break off into two entirely separate generations—those dominating the workforce and those who are struggling to find traction in society. This typically occurs at age 30.).

By the time Gen Zers graduate from college, they could begin leapfrogging Millennials as the largest portion of the workforce, doing almost anything to earn an income (in comparison to the floundering Millennials who were coddled by their Baby Boomer parents and don’t have the drive to succeed on their own, according to Dorsey).

What Now?

Now, how do you take all this information and convert it into a sale?

Dorsey says to remain flexible. The No. 1 highest-converting tagline that Dorsey researched was “As Unique as You Are.” Whoever you are selling travel to, make sure you tailor your approach (and the trip, obviously) to them.

Dorsey also explained that the industry typically sells in a linear fashion (here’s when you take off, here’s where you go, here's what you will do Day 1, etc.) but that clients aren’t linear buyers. Start with the last step—for instance, “Wow, that was a great trip to Europe.” Once you have the ending, work your way back, finding the right pieces to make that trip a “Wow.”

Another very important step is to improve your online presence (travel follows technology, remember?). Dorsey predicts that soon people will be rated online just as businesses and products are—it’s essentially unavoidable, so get a leg up now. His tips? Get on LinkedIn, and make sure you have a photo and something that makes you ‘human,’ i.e. by mentioning a hobby. It will make you more appealing than SalesBot 3000. The next step? Connect with as many people as you can. When listing your qualifications, Dorsey suggests skipping that Top Sales Performer award, since that may scare people away. Brag about loyalty, customer satisfaction and referrals, instead.

You’re almost there, says Dorsey. Make sure it’s evident on any site you maintain that it’s free to call and find out more information. Research suggests that the younger you are, the more likely you are to believe that using your time costs money (remember how frugal Gen Z is). Once you’ve got them speaking to you, always—always—say “Wow, that’s a good question.” If you don’t appear to genuinely care about what they are saying, the will not buy, warns Dorsey.

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