Skift Research surveyed all types of travelers in 2019, highlighting the staying power of food tourism, how best to track the travel preferences of millennials and Gen Zers, and more. The top findings of the year will get you ready for 2020.
This past year was a landmark one for consumer research by the Skift Research team. We fielded four surveys of travelers this year, including two updates to our annual survey coverage and two new additions. With the year coming to a close, we have collected the most interesting findings from this collection of data. As we enter 2020, we hope that this work will provide a guiding light for the road ahead.
Food Tourism Is More Than a Passing Trend
Local-focused experiences like food tourism continued to gain a lot of attention in 2019. Our 2019 Food Tourism Survey helped us to quantify this trend and gave us a picture of how big it’s really becoming. The results — with almost every respondent saying they have participated in a food and/or drink-related experience while traveling — shows us that food tourism is a segment with sticking power.
U.S. Travelers Are More Motivated to Travel by HyperLocal, Adventurous Experiences
The 2019 results of our U.S. Experiential Traveler Survey revealed that travelers are more attracted to adventure travel than they were in the past, and have an increased preference for hyperlocal, unique, and transformative travel experiences. Travelers are specifically looking for experiences that will give them new perspectives on the world. In this same vein, more travelers in 2019 have stayed in Airbnb accommodations than ever before.
Super-Affluent Travelers Care More about the Luxury Identity than the Environment
U.S. affluent travelers are a complex group who are constantly changing. We’ve been surveying this market for the last three years to capture their travel preferences and behaviors so that relevant stakeholders can adjust their approaches accordingly.
This year, our survey revealed a lot about this group. Some of our most interesting findings came when we divided our affluent respondents into smaller income brackets. While all respondents indicate that they identify more with the luxury status than they did in 2018, this is especially clear among those with the highest incomes, who we’ve deemed super affluents (combined household incomes of $200,000 or more).
Super affluents might care more about luxury, but they also care the least about improving the environment through their travel decisions compared to their slightly less affluent peers. Even though they make more money, they are the least willing to pay more to use more responsible companies.
For Millennial and Gen Z Travelers, Their Country Is a More Important Indicator Than Their Age
In 2019, we focused a survey on only the youngest traveler demographics for the first time for our Millennial and Gen Z Traveler Survey 2019: A Multi-Country Comparison Report. We surveyed travelers ages 16–38 in five countries: the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, China, and India. This survey was extensive, and we learned a lot about these age cohorts and also about how country of residence is often a better indicator of preferences and behavior than age group is.
One key takeaway is that millennial and Gen Z travelers from China and India tend to stand out from their peers in the U.S., UK, and Australia. They are more avid travelers, less budget conscious, and more tech- and mobile-centric.
We also found that dividing each of these age cohorts into two smaller groups reveals even more nuance. The commonalities among all Gen Zers and all millennials exists in all five countries, but there is some variation. In China and India, for example, young and old millennials (23–30 and 31–38 years old) tend to have more in common with each other than they do with either Gen Z group. In the U.S. and Australia, however, we more commonly see that old Gen Zers (18–22) have more in common with young millennials than they do with the younger members of their own generational cohort.
Photo credit: Skift Research uncovered a lot about travelers in 2019. Above, travelers walk through a terminal at Frankfurt Airport in Germany. Romain Mathon / Unsplash