Have you interacted with the new Generation Z? This is arguably the future of global travel. You should get to know them intimately or else miss out entirely. Like all other generations before it, it is not clear which age bracket qualifies to be in this generation. What is apparent, however, is that the youngest members of society right now fall into this group.

Just for good measure, guys at the Pew Research Center who are looking to give more structure to these generational nicknames and put an end to the confusion, say members of Generation Z were born between 1997 and the present. What that means is that the oldest member of this generation should be 23 years old. So why should this generation interest you as a tourism sector entrepreneur?

This year Generation Z officially hit the 32% mark, making them the largest population on earth ahead of the Millennials (Generation Y). Until now, Generation Y has dominated the travel market by their numbers. The Y generation was so influential (it still is) in shaping the travel experience. In 2018 they spent a fantastic USD 200 billion on travel. Generation Z is expected to continue this trend but in a way that will surprise you.

First off, most Millennials were raised by Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), whereas Generation X (born 1965-1980) raised generation Z. The two are profoundly different from each other in terms of what they want in a travel experience and the extent they are willing to go to get it. Generation Z is already charting its unique path through the travel experience in these four ways that will also affect you.

1. Beyond the Destination

Until now the most important aspect of travel has been the destination. If it is a beach, it has not mattered where the beach is as long as it qualifies as one. The Z generation is looking beyond this. They are placing a premium on the experience to, on and from the beach. They are keen to learn, for instance, about the history of the beach and its indigenous inhabitants. A tour package that does not factor in the experience loses out with this lot.

2. Sustainability

Most if not all Generation Z, have grown up during the climate change era. The sustainable living narrative has been a central topic. The net effect is an environmentally conscious generation. Travel for the Z Generation cannot be anything short of being responsible. They consider if a hotel is eco-rated or whether a trip has an impact on the local community.

Do not get surprised if you start noticing your hotel towels are not getting changed that frequently or your complimentary water comes packaged in a glass bottle. It will all be in keeping with this new sensitivity towards saving the planet.

3. Platform Shift

Instagram, Youtube and Snapchat are to Generation Z as Facebook is to the Millennials. With a massive affinity for the Internet, depleting attention spans and an inexorable desire for personalisation, this group is highly visual. For them seeing is believing. To get their buy-in, you must play to their tune – have a Youtube channel, be on Snapchat and have an active Instagram account.

4. Work will be All Play

I am exaggerating a bit here, but the workplace will not be spared from the Generation Z wave either. The bulk of the working force today is increasingly made up of this generation. Studies indicate that this group is so travel-centric to the extent that most would change jobs in favour of the one with more travel opportunities. Company trips will not be your usual hit-and-run affairs where you travel, arrive, work and come back – they will be bleisure trips. Bleisure travel usually factors in extended time to allow the employee to enjoy a destination.

If you have not considered Generation Z in your product packaging, you are doing your business a disservice. Of course, there is the other fact that most candidates in this generation are right now in secondary or tertiary education. They are still heavily reliant on their parents for sustenance. When they travel, they do so frugally, and that means most industry players are immediately left out. With a bit of creativity in product packaging though, it is still possible to salvage the situation and tap into this influential emerging segment. What are you doing to capture Generation Z?