Trends in Next-Gen Travel Demand That Will Drive Recovery

by | July 26, 2021

A study from Google found that the number of searches for the phrase “can I travel” went up by 800% over the last several weeks. Hotels have been feeling this surge in travel demand, with review amounts surpassing pre-pandemic levels among our hotel partners.

These searches are coming from Next-Gen travelers – that means that more than any other age group, Millennials and Gen Z are ready to get back in their cars and on planes and travel domestically. However, before marketers can jump to strategizing, we must consider their audience’s ideal travel experience to market effectively.

What Do Next-Gen Travelers Want?

In general, Next-Gen travelers don’t have as many trips under their belts; as a result, every opportunity to get away from their day-to-day is a precious opportunity to experience something new. Over half of the American population is either a millennial or Gen Z, and the group combined holds over $350 billion in spending power. 

However, grabbing their attention is more complicated than showcasing your available rooms and amenities. Next-Gen travelers expect safety and cleanliness – Google’s consumer insights cite that nearly 60% of searches revolve around safety. Post-pandemic, cleanliness still remains one of the most mentioned topics in online reviews.

To appeal to Next-Gen guests, you’ll need to show them that your hotel is safe, clean, and convenient. They want to know what is open at your hotel and in the area around your hotel. Instead of the brand loyalty programs that many hoteliers were used to catering to, Next-Gen guests make plans to travel by prioritizing cost and authenticity.

Appealing to Next-Gen Search Trends

mom and daughter hugging on couch

Having a clear picture of the guest you’re trying to attract is only half the battle. Understanding strategies you need to employ to appeal to those guests is the next crucial step. Above all else, your messaging should be clear and concise. With tens of thousands of marketing messages pushed out daily, focusing on the message that matters most will help boost conversions.

Marketing to Gen Z means prioritizing authenticity, story, and inclusivity. This generation knows that every one of their purchases holds significant power, and the best way to convince them to book with you is to ensure they feel heard. You can exhibit this by ensuring you respond to all of your reviews and through attentively listening and responding to travelers on social media.

Nearly half of all search terms in recent months surrounded comfort, convenience, and good reviews. The way for hoteliers to capitalize on these search terms for guests is through agile marketing of rooms and amenities. Sharing how convenient your location is can be a great plus for young travelers who want to see a lot of your hotel’s area.

Remember, keeping track of the trends is a fundamental part of your marketing strategy. What travelers are searching for today may differ greatly from what they prioritize 3 months from now. The important thing is to be flexible and agile in all your marketing initiatives.

Driving Recovery with Flexibility

family wearing masks checking into a hotel

Flexibility will be a crucial recovery factor for hotels in 2021 through 2022, in more than just marketing initiatives. Travelers booking hotels still expect a great deal of flexibility regarding bookings and cancellations. The booking window has shortened dramatically due to the pandemic, and guests are still expecting hotels to maintain flexible cancellation policies in the event of sudden changes.

Situations that demand this level of flexibility also open up the opportunity for hotels to advertise the convenience of booking directly with them, reducing overall commission costs from OTAs. Booking directly offers guests the chance to build the experience they want the most with your hotel, as well.

The rise in spontaneity and demand for flexibility likely comes from Next-Gen travelers opting not to base their booking decisions on loyalty programs. In fact, they’re almost 2x less likely to book a hotel through a loyalty program. Shifting your focus away from loyalty program benefits, and offering more flexibility with booking will be how hotels can boost conversion rates.

Backing Your Strategy with Data

three people standing over a table covered in business charts and graphs

Using data can help you best understand what travelers need and whether your marketing strategies are catering to them. In a recent white paper, Amadeus hospitality noted that “during the pandemic, many searches didn’t necessarily convert to a final booking,” therefore, relying only on search data may be misleading.

To get both a clear picture of demand and understand how to anticipate traveler booking decisions best, it’s crucial to gather multiple, reliable data sources to review on a near-daily basis. TMG OneView® aggregates data about all areas of your hotel’s reputation, making it easy to view input from various sources in one place. This includes tracking up to 5 select competitors in your area, which helps you compare TripAdvisor rankings and market share of reviews.

Between real-time analytics and historical data about bookings and travel trends, you’ll have all the information you need to build a stronger digital marketing strategy. Our team at Travel Media Group is here to help you execute your plan with a robust social media program, expert review response strategies, and an industry-leading reputation management program. Visit our services page to see how we can help you reach your goals.