Virtuoso recently unveiled findings from its two-plus-year study on the differences and commonalities between Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.
Carried out by Virtuoso’s innovation teams, this psychographic exploration 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, to determine how each generation approaches travel, work and life in general.
The findings were first shared during Virtuoso’s 2022 Symposium general session, held in March in Lisbon, Portugal, and more recently were explored in even greater detail by Virtuoso advisors within the region at a Virtuoso conference in Adelaide, Australia.
Baby boomers: the original backpackers
Baby Boomers, representing the post-WWII generation born between 1946 and 1964, travelled like no generation before.
As the original backpackers, they explored far and wide through student exchange programs or on the first overland buses through Europe, before channelling 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; 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 inspired the term “SKI trips,” also known as spending the kids’ inheritance.
And they tend to prefer small, private groups for travel (think multigenerational trips), river cruising and the big, Wanderlist-type trips that they’ve not been able to take for the past two years.
Generation X: the maximalists
Generation 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.
X-ers tend to be self-motivated, adaptable problem-solvers who work independently. 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.
Millennials: the individuals
Millennials have grown into adulthood and now comprise the largest percentage of the workforce.
Born between 1981 and 1996, this generation 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. 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.
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.
Featured image: iStock/AleksandarNakic