Gen Z Travel Trends 2019

One-size-fits-all travel loyalty programs don't work. In particular, Gen Z is looking for personalized travel rewards—and great experiences.

At Criteo, in our latest “Why We Book” research*, we conducted a survey of over 8,000 travelers around the world to find out how companies can connect better with potential buyers and make sure that they keep coming back.

One of the more interesting findings around the results was about Gen Z travel trends in 2019. When we analyzed responses, we realized that one-size-fits-all loyalty programs don’t work. Beyond the opportunity to earn and redeem points, our research into travel trends revealed that travel rewards have to be relevant to Gen Z’s specific needs and booking habits. Otherwise, they’re often not part of loyalty programs.

In short, Gen Z wants great experiences, not elite status.

Here’s what we learned about Gen Z travel loyalty:

Travel loyalty programs get lost on Gen Z.

Our research shows that of the Gen Z survey respondents (15-24 year olds) around the world, only 25% belong to a travel loyalty program. Around half (46%) say they often forget they signed up for one, and 45% say they sometimes opt out of loyalty programs because they receive too many emails.

As digital natives, Gen Zers understand the power of data and technology to deliver on personalization and they expect custom offers and content tailored to them. Be sure you’re delivering on relevance at every point on their path to travel booking.

gen z travel loyalty

And, if they do sign up? Make sure that every interaction is valuable.

Gen Z loyalty depends on more than discounts.

While a mere one in four Gen Zers belongs to a travel loyalty program, the ones who do are tuned in to the benefits:

  • 78% say they enjoy loyalty programs that give them perks beyond just discounts.
  • 75% value rewards such as free checked bags, free premium seat selection, and better customer service.
  • 70% say loyalty programs are one key reason they choose specific airlines or hotels.

To make your loyalty program more attractive to Gen Z, make sure to offer incentives in support of better customer experiences. Perks like additional amenities or services could be the thing that attracts younger consumers to your brand, but only if you can showcase why those perks are useful.

As we saw, with around half of Gen Z consumers forgetting they’re even part of a loyalty program, reminding them to use the points and what they can do with them is just as important as having the benefits in the first place.

The Gen Z travel loyalty opportunity is huge.

Over half (52%) of Gen Z plans to spend more on travel in 2019 than they did in 2018. That’s more than any other age group. At 24% of the global population, with a direct spending power of $143 billion and an indirect spending power of $600 billion, Gen Z is one age group brands can’t afford to ignore.

Travel providers that can develop more dynamic loyalty programs and offer different types of rewards to different customer segments (like points redeemable for experiences) stand to create memorable value for Gen Z travelers, which in turn will up their spend with — and affinity for — your brand.

Want more loyalty research? Our “Why We Buy” survey revealed key insights about modern consumer shopping behavior. Download the guide below:

*Source: “Why We Book”, Criteo Travel Study, May-June 2019, N=4117.

Michelle Pruett

As Global Head of Content at Criteo, Michelle leads a high-performing, multi-disciplinary team of marketers packaging insights, copy, design, and video into integrated campaigns. Her own writing has been featured in Entrepreneur, Business Insider, AdWeek, eMarketer, and more. Before joining the ...

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