Virtuoso: Gen Z Is Seeking Authentic, Culturally Immersive Experiences

Croatia // Photo courtesy of Virtuoso

Today’s sophisticated youth are blazing new trails as global citizens. What’s impressive: The younger generation is requesting culturally immersive experiences that fit their interests, according to a survey by Virtuoso that tapped into the network’s advisors in its Family Travel Community. Results revealed that authenticity tops the list of emergent trends, with children driving travel decisions in second place.

Multigenerational travel remains the most popular family trend. Virtuoso advisors typically design custom itineraries that encompass other key trends like experiential travel and adventure trips, such as a last-minute safari for 10 people, including grandparents, children and grandchildren. Celebration travel is also growing, with one Virtuoso advisor even designing an Alaska trip for a grandfather who helicoptered his triplet grandchildren to a glacier for their 13th birthday—complete with cake.

Top Family Travel Trends Top Emerging Family Travel Trends
1. Multigenerational Trips  1. Authenticity
2. Beach Resort Stays     2. Children Driving Travel Decisions
3. Active/adventure Trips  3. "Wow" Amenities for Children
4. Celebration Travel   4. Visiting Less-Touristed Places
5. Experiential Travel   5. Skip-Generational Travel

While classic European destinations, such as Italy, England and France, remain popular with families, other less-traditional places are on the rise. Already well-traveled, Generation Z involves itself in planning trips and wants to explore places like Croatia, Morocco and Antarctica. 

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Top Family Travel Destinations            Top Family Travel Destinations on the Rise
1. Italy  1. Croatia
2. Hawaii  2. Belize
3. England  3. Kenya
4. Costa Rica  4. Morocco
5. France 5. Antarctica

Children today are traveling at younger ages and to more distant destinations. Virtuoso advisors report arranging family adventures with infants in tow, including a baby who stayed in Japanese monasteries while accompanying its parents hiking and cycling, and a one-year-old who tagged along for a camel ride and dinner in the Moroccan mountains. At times, preschool schedules become paramount even over parents’ work schedules in timing trips.

Young globetrotters expect active immersion in local cultures, but still want downtime. Beach resort stays rank second on the list of family travel trends, with relaxing on the beach or poolside rating high as the most popular activity. Warm-weather locales such as Hawaii and Belize score highly as family destinations. 

Top Family Travel Activities  Generation Z Influence on Travel
1. Active Experiences 1. Involve Themselves in Planning Trip
2. Relaxing on Beach/Poolside  2. Book Culturally Immersive Experiences
3. Classes or Lessons 3. Look for Visual Trips for Social Media
4. Animal Viewing/Interactions 4. Influence Others Online or Via Word of Mouth
5. Exploring Local Culture Via Food  5. Personalize Travel to Interests

Young travelers are also requesting exclusive trip elements, often tailored to their personal interests. Virtuoso advisors say junior foodies have asked for Michelin-starred restaurants, even knowing the names of chefs at each establishment. Another advisor created a 10-city, 10-day family tour of European car museums. Other interesting family experiences advisors have arranged include front-row viewing at Siena’s Palio and closing a New York City pizzeria for family fun. One advisor reserved a seaplane to pick up a young woman from a yacht in the middle of the ocean so she would be home in time for a college interview. 

Virtuoso’s Family Travel Community specialists share that family travel sales are strong for 2020. Fifty-seven percent expect sales to increase from 2019, while 42 percent envision sales will remain steady from last year. Just one percent foresee a minor dip for the coming year.

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