The latest indicators on traveler sentiment show some good news for the industry. According to YouGov data from October and November, 51% of US respondents say they plan to travel for a vacation or business trip next year.
Travel aspirations are highest among younger Americans. Data from YouGov’s Global Travel Profiles reveals that 57% of 18-to-29-year-olds and 59% of 30-to-44-year-olds say they will either take a domestic/international vacation or domestic/international business trip within the next 12 months. And while a third of overall respondents say they do not plan to travel, each of these younger groups are significantly less likely to say so (24% and 27%, respectively).
Respondents aged 65 and over seem torn on whether they will travel over the coming year. Similar proportions say they will take some type of trip within the next 12 months (42%) as say they will not travel (43%).
Why younger generations may be traveling sooner and how to reach them
The high levels of travel intent among younger generations may be due to their perceptions of coronavirus. Since May, YouGov has been tracking how Americans feel about COVID-19 and how consumption patterns have changed amid the pandemic.
Nearly half of Americans (45%) say they are personally worried about getting COVID-19 with the highest levels of concern among Gen X (47%) and Boomers (48%). Younger Americans, however, seem less concerned. Both Gen Z adults (34%) and millennials (44%) are statistically less likely to say they are worried about personally contracting coronavirus. Given that younger generations appear to be less risk-averse when it comes to coronavirus related health-concerns, that could feed into their greater appetite for travel.
While the pandemic and related lockdowns have induced more time spent at home than abroad, the flip side is that there’s greater opportunity for advertisers and travel brands to engage with potential audiences. YouGov data shows that Americans are spending more time in front of screens with younger generations driving the increases in online media consumption.
An analysis of media consumption amid the pandemic shows that Gen Z adults and millennials have been engaging most with social media platforms, on-demand content (e.g., Netflix), and YouTube. Net usage among Gen Z is up across virtually every digital media channel but particularly for YouTube, on-demand content, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Among millennials, net usage is highest among on-demand content, YouTube, TV, and Facebook.
Many in the travel industry, including advertisers and brands, have been active online throughout the pandemic - working to stay at the top of travelers’ minds with inspirational and experiential content. It’s also important, however, to consider which channels and platforms are the best to reach Gen Z and millennials, especially as this group seems the keenest to travel in the near future.
Methodology: The data from YouGov Global Travel Profiles is based on the interviews of 1,175 US adults aged 18 and over. Interviews were conducted online between October – November 2020 and results are unweighted.
The data on media consumption across generations is from YouGov Profiles and is based on the interviews of 14,848 US adults aged 18 and over. Interviews were conducted online between May – October 2020 and results have been weighted to be nationally representative.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.