UAE-headquartered TIME Hotels has released preliminary results of the first in a four-part study looking at today’s teenagers and their perception of travel and tourism as the next generation of frequent travellers.
front row L-R: Chadi Awadalla, Joan Bangera and Hari Kava. Back row L-R: Saquib Mabadiwala, Sergio Raya Aires and Jacob Lonning
Conducted in partnership with BNC and kicking off with a roundtable event that brought together six expatriate teenagers resident in Dubai, for an open forum on their own travel experiences, desires and expectations, the event shared some interesting – and unexpected – insights.
Generation Z is generally defined by many researchers and commentators as those born around the year 2000 running through to the 2010s. This generation is also referred to as iGen, Post-Millennials or even Plurals.
A significant aspect of this generation is its widespread usage of the internet from a young age. Members of Gen Z are typically thought of as being comfortable with technology, and interacting on social media websites for a significant portion of their socialising.
“The impact of Gen Y on the travel and tourism landscape in recent years has been wholly focused on technology and mobile access to satisfy their 24/7 expectation of access to relevant information and desire for immediacy. With this roundtable, we expected a similar level of intensity when it comes to the importance of technology, but this was of diminished relevance when compared with other more practical considerations,” said Mohamed Awadalla, CEO, TIME Hotels.
L-R: Joan Bangera and Hari Kava.
“Although technology is still extremely important, with WiFi access a basic expectation and the availability of games consoles a prerequisite of any Kids Club, our teen panel was adamant about the importance of a comfy bed, large clean room and good food as the non-negotiable fundamentals of a great holiday,” he added.
The six panelists agreed that some of their best holidays have had a significant leisure focus with entertainment such as water park slides, nature-based attractions and local cultural experiences also key to a memorable family holiday.
Quality family time was also highlighted as integral to an enjoyable stay with Gen Z travellers also very much involved in the travel decision-making process.
Said 15-year old panelist Saquib Mabadiwala: “I do some research then show it to my family and ask them where they prefer. Based on the research we then decide, but when I’m doing that I look for good food, fun things to do, and comfort and safety.”
The antithesis of the stereotypical Gen Y who can sometimes be unfairly pigeonholed as unsociable loners glued to a mobile device, and often oblivious to the surrounding environment, Gen Z appears to be far more socially interactive, and thus a dramatically different type of future traveller.
“Our roundtable session was a real eye-opener, and with Gen Z just years away from becoming independent adults with the means to travel the world, we need to strategise for the future and evaluate how we need to approach the needs of the next generation when it comes to travel decisions that are clearly a world away from Gen Y,” remarked Awadalla.
L-R: Jacob Lonning, Sergio Raya Aires, Chadi Awadalla and Saquib Mabadiwala
“At TIME Hotels, while we know that technology will continue to influence the travel process from every angle, I believe that we are seeing a return to more traditional values with social interaction, quality products and services and cultural experiences all on the Gen Z wish-list,” he added.
According to Awadalla, this will manifest itself in both marketing campaigns, which will need to be more balanced when communicating brand USPs and product attributes whilst also working harder to engage the Gen Z audience, who will have one eye on the quality-value equation whether it’s service-related, F&B focused or facilities based.