Virtuoso has shared the findings of research to pinpoint differences and commonalities between Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.
The study, undertaken by Virtuoso’s Innovation Teams over more than two years, involved a psychographic exploration that included multiple deep-dive sessions, both in-person and virtually, between three worldwide generational groupings of Virtuoso travel advisors, preferred travel providers and the organisation’s own staff. The feedback determined how each generation approaches travel, work and life in general.
Fiona Dalton, Virtuoso General Manager, Australia & New Zealand told LATTE that understanding the generational differences has been a game-changer for the network in this region.
Dalton explained the findings “help our Advisors to be better prepared to serve their clients in a more meaningful and personal way while at the same time informing our members as they seek to evolve their workplaces to ensure they are positioned as employers of choice in today’s highly competitive market.
“One thing is for sure: our ability to remain forward-thinking is dependent on our capability to learn from the past, and a study of this depth is a great example of that,” she said.
Virtuoso’s research indicated the following:
Representing the post-WWII generation born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers were the first backpackers – as well as the original workaholics.
They travelled like no generation before, be it through student exchange programs or on the first overland buses through Europe, before rechannelling their energies into their careers.
In the workplace, they value varying perspectives and are happy to mentor new talent. They strive to remain relevant and are reluctant to retire given their intense work ethic.
On the flipside, the Boomers’ love of exploration continues to this day. They have the time and money to travel, albeit at an easier pace and with an eye to health and mobility issues, though their travel pursuits are far from “old.”
They value the “leave only footprints” style of travel, almost as much as they do the professional guidance and firsthand experience of a trusted travel advisor. They value quality time together and have dubbed the term “SKI trips,” also known as spending the kids’ inheritance. And they tend to prefer small, private groups for travel (such as multigenerational trips), river cruising and the big, Wanderlist-type trips that they’ve not been able to take for the past two years.
Gen X, often referred to as the forgotten generation largely due to its smaller size, refers to those born between 1965 and 1980. This group has a natural distrust of authority based on a rise in divorce during their childhood years, two recessions, political controversies, the Cold War and the AIDS epidemic; however, it has also led to extreme loyalty to those entities and individuals who do earn their trust, like their travel advisor.
Their workplace practices are not so far off from their travel personas. ‘X-ers’ tend to be self-motivated, adaptable problem-solvers who work independently. They are collaborators, excellent communicators and probably more direct than younger generations might like. They prioritise work-life balance, are more likely to lead with humanity and show vulnerability, and are adept at learning and adopting new technology, especially if it leads to greater efficiency.
Gen-Xers tend to travel less than other generations due to hectic schedules, but when they do travel, they value the opportunity to switch off and recharge, often outspending their counterparts. Their children inform their travel decisions, often picking the destination and, more importantly, the experiences and micro-moments that matter. They also want smart luxury and are willing to pay for service, but they favour authenticity above all else. X- ers are the organisers of the big, multigenerational family holiday, and they need their travel advisors to help them maximise each trip.
While much has been made of younger generations and how they were poised to change the world with their influence, Millennials have grown into adulthood and now comprise the largest percentage of the workforce. Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials came of age during a time of profound change, from 9/11 to the Great Recession, and were shaped by the world and culture they grew up in.
Having been raised “online,” they are tech-savvy, curious, open-minded and self-expressive.
Millennials tend to be entrepreneurial-minded, seeking freedom and having fully embraced the “work from anywhere” philosophy created by the pandemic. This flexibility coupled with skill growth and career development lead to workplace loyalty.
A common thread amongst Millennial employees is the desire to connect and engage in work that is meaningful and in alignment with who they are, and this desire for purpose is also a key driver for them as travellers. Viewed as a crucial part of their lives, travel enriches their existence and allows them to explore other cultures, and it takes priority for both their leisure time and discretionary income. They eschew the word “luxury,” while in search of immersive, unique experiences.
Millennial travel may be inspired by social media, but sustainability is a guidepost for their travel decisions. They are happy to spend big on experiences and culinary opportunities, ensuring they live in the now rather than saving for retirement like generations before them. Despite favouring electronic communication to voice, they do turn to professional travel advisors for their connections and expertise. And wherever they choose to venture, it needs to reflect who they are as individuals and what they value.
Virtuoso’s generational research is an ongoing project.