Comment: How brands can reach Gen Z travellers in 2023

Students are ready to splurge on travel if the price is right, says Unidays’ Courtney Bailey-Griggs

The staycation era is officially over. As the peak holiday period approaches, students are dusting off their passports and setting their sights on international travel in 2023.

Rising prices will not stop their craving for adventure, with 84% British students planning on spending as much or even more on travel this year compared to 2022, according to Unidays’ travel report.

With the 2023 travel landscape looking positive for Gen Z-ers, it’s important for brands to align their marketing strategy with the needs of this influential consumer base. So how can travel brands ensure they successfully capture the attention of Gen Z travellers?

Unique experiences

Gen-Zers are ready to escape the UK, with 84% claiming they would rather take a dream vacation than purchase a new luxury item according to American Express.

Students want to break out of their comfort zones. With 30% hoping to travel to new destinations and immerse themselves in diverse cultures, brands should ensure their brand messaging addresses the Gen Z desire for adventure.

With fewer than one in four students planning a staycation this year, brands seeking to connect with students must focus on new experiences and deliver overseas offers for the year ahead.

As almost half of students focus on limiting travel time, the European market is set to thrive. 66% of students are planning to book beach holidays, while 53% are seeking exciting city breaks.

Booking ahead

As international travel returns to the pre-Covid regularity, students are beginning to book ahead. Gen Z-ers are leaving behind impulse, with two thirds of students booking vacations one to six months before they travel.

With comfort at the forefront of their minds, students are looking for brands which provide simplicity by allowing them to plan and book everything in one place, something are already taking advantage of.

However, simplicity doesn’t mean dull. Gen Z-ers thrive on personalised experiences and offers, which make their holiday uniquely theirs.

The power of authentic influencers

Unsurprisingly, over half of students turn to social media platforms for travel inspiration.

Yet among a wave of filters and glamour, authenticity is the most important value for Gen Z, who seek out brands that support their personal objectives. Brands should therefore focus on honest and authentic social media messaging to foster engagement from Gen Z travellers and stand out from the ocean of promotional noise.

Gen Z-ers trust their favourite influencers over well-known celebrities, so brands should seek authentic influencers who have built genuine loyalty within their follower base to drive the best results. As Gen Z seek new experiences, influencers who share their inspiring tips to help students find their next adventure should be a priority for brands.

Perfect pricing

Despite their high-end wanderlust, savvy Gen Z-ers are still looking for affordable escapes over the coming year, with 81% finding good value for money as the most important factor.

Beyond cost almost half of students are prioritising safety and travel distance ahead of their next getaway.

The bottom line

As the travel sector returns to pre-pandemic normality Gen Z-ers are ready to fly the nest. Seeking high-end trips that meet their curiosity and love of adventure while being great value for money, they are looking for brands that can provide unique experiences within their budget.

As the hunt for new memories begins in earnest, students are ready to splurge as long as the price is right.

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