Generations travel: group of young women attending event in arena
Millennials love group trips with friends, especially with customized, unique experiences

A 20-something’s vision of the perfect vacation looks very different from a 40-something’s. Ditto a 50 year old versus an 80 year old. How do different generations travel?

A study by Virtuoso has uncovered how four generations choose to vacation. Virtuoso examined booking data for clients over the last six years, conducted focus groups with its travel advisors and included research from partner Wealth Engine. The results clearly demonstrate how generations travel in their own unique way.

Millennials (born 1983-1993)

This is the most populous generation. There are more Millennials than Generation Xers, Baby Boomers or Matures.

Millennials love to travel. They love customized, unique experiences – not cookie-cutter big brands. They also enjoy group trips with friends.

They’re building their careers and can’t take much time off from work. So they’re more likely to book trips within North America. And when they book, they want to know every little pricing detail.

Before and after booking a trip, Millennials do lots of online research. They want information right away and rely on their smartphones. They view themselves as very knowledgeable. If they don’t know something, they can get the answer in a flash online. They like to book quickly, partly because they’re busy and distracted.

Currently 90 percent of them book travel online. And 87 percent use online travel agencies for research and rate comparisons.

Millennials want to be a partner in the booking process. A travel advisor can help them sort through all the available information. And once they find one they like and experience the value, they’re more loyal than other generations. They’ll also refer their friends.

On average, Millennials spend $527 a day on a vacation. Added all together, that’s 62 percent less than the Mature generation. However, when upscale Millennials find a travel advisor they fit well with, that gap closes to 24 per cent.

Generations travel: family on beach
Generation X enjoys relaxing in Sun Belt destinations with the family

Generation Xers (born 1965-1982)

Family life shapes the travel preferences of Generation X. The timing of their trips closely follows school calendars, and their destinations are closer to home. They enjoy Sun Belt spots, including Orlando, Miami Beach, Los Angeles, Mexico and the Caribbean.

These destinations, many of them beach oriented, reflect the top vacation motivation for Gen X. They want time to relax and unwind. Their top priority is a hotel stay.

They may not venture far. But Generation X spends the most each day while traveling at $627.

Gen Xers came of age just as online travel agencies appeared on the scene. Perhaps that’s why they’re much more likely to book a trip online than with a travel advisor. According to MMGY, 82% book travel online and 71% research their travel through OTAs.

Generations travel: a Baby Boomer couple in Antarctica
Baby Boomers have the money to travel – and do

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)

Baby Boomers have the money to travel – and they do. As Boomers transition into retirement, travel ranks among their top activities. Their average spend on travel remains relatively stable before growing rapidly after age 65. On average, they spend $522 a day while traveling.

Boomers have the highest concentration of the superaffluent ($5 to $25 million in investible assets) and ultraaffluent (more than $25 million) of any generation. So their travel spending is considerable.

They prefer diversity in their travels, with 19 percent favoring hotels, 26 percent preferring cruises and 28 percent opting for customized tours.

Among Boomers, 84% have purchased travel online and 72% have researched travel through OTAs.

Generations travel: older couple with panda
The Matures – today’s seniors – spend more on travel than any other generation

Matures (born 1926-1945)

Travel factors significantly into the lives of today’s seniors. When you add up all their travel purchases, they spend more than any other generation. They spend an average of $471 a day on travel.

Matures love to cruise. It’s their top travel preference, especially in January. But compared to other generations that are more seasonal, their preference for a cruise vacation holds steady all year long.

They also enjoy reading about travel, especially magazines on the topic and catalogs of vacation offers.

Matures are the most loyal to their travel advisors. They’re also the most likely to book repeat trips through them.

A Return to Advisors

Interestingly, a majority of travelers regardless of generation say vacations booked through an advisor are better. A study by the American Society of Travel Agents found 59% of Millennials, 53% of Gen Xers and 58% of Baby Boomers say vacations planned with the help of an advisor were better than those organized without their help.

For this reason, more people are recognizing the value of travel advisors and working with them. If you’re ready to find an advisor who’s right for you, visit virtuoso.com.

6 comments

  1. Wow! I just realized my son, born in ’94, isn’t a Millennial!

    So when we travel as a family we’re covering the gamut, trying to please two baby boomers, a Millennial and a member of the yet-to-be-named newest group. Because my hubby travels so much for work, he likes to do the research himself for our adventures. Although true to your study, I would be with the 28% who prefers to pre-arrange customized tours. (It’s a constant battle! ;o)

    I was also really surprised to learn that Millennials are the most populous generation. Interesting article!

  2. This is very inaccurate. While the definition of millennials varies slightly depending on the source, the actual term millennials was coined in the book Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069. In 1987, the authors coined the term “around the time 1982-born children were entering preschool and the media were first identifying their prospective link to the millennial year 2000”. Strauss and Howe use 1982 as the Millennials’ starting birth year and 2004 as the last birth year. People born in 1982 graduated high school in 2000 – they are the quintessential millennials. (albeit the “older” millennials) This was on Wikipedia and I’m surprised the author didn’t see the connection. What’s more, 1993 is definitely not the end date; almost all sources agree it’s around the early 2000’s. And how is it that Gen Xers are defined as those born between 1965-1982??? That’s almost 20 years, whereas “millennials” as you defined them only have 10 year generation?

  3. Lauren, thank you for your interest in the topic. You’re correct that there’s not a lot of agreement on exact years that define each generation. The 1965 to 1982 years for Generation X are in the accepted range that many studies cite. With regard to the Millennial dates, these were the years used for a specific study that Virtuoso undertook. Since this blog post is about the results of that study, we defined Millennials here as 1983-1993. The study examined travel buying and booking preferences, and the youngest Millennials generally aren’t purchasing travel quite yet.

  4. I would just like to point out that the numbers don’t add up. If the Millenniums spend $527 and Matures spend $471? How do the matures spend more than the matures per day? How has nobody noticed this inconsistency yet?

  5. Thank you for your interest in the topic, BobbyLee. Matures spend more overall than Millennials because they tend to take longer and more frequent trips. So their total spend as a generation is higher, even if their per day spend isn’t.

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