Generation Z prefers to spend on experiences rather than on stuff. 78% of millennials — compared to 59% of baby boomers — “would rather pay for an experience than material goods,” according to a survey from Harris Poll and Eventbrite.
Words: Aleksandra Medina
What’s so different about this generation’s way of travelling? They are looking for unique cultural experiences. Long gone are the days were the only reason for going on a vacation was to lay on a sun bed in a giant all-inclusive chain resort to perfect that tan. Millennials are looking for ways to immerse themselves in the place they are going to, and they want to return with irreplaceable experiences and memories.
Robin Lewis, of The Robin Report, “This is a generation that is bigger than the boomers in population, but their wallets are smaller, and they are more into the style of life than the stuff of life.” Because this generation grew up with the recession and are repaying outrageous student loans, they are also motivated by their financial situation to spend their travel money smartly.
So how have these two conditions combined into a generation’s shift in travelling? Today, it’s all about the sharing economy. We share cars with the help of Uber, we share our houses with the help of Airbnb, we share restaurant reviews with the help of TripAdvisor and, in more extreme cases, we share our couches on Couchsurfing and drive with strangers with the help of BlaBlaCar.
Uber and Airbnb have been the greatest successes posing some threat to multinational enterprises that have been running the tourism sector for decades. Some research suggests that 60% of people who have used Airbnb prefer it over a traditional hotel, and Uber is quickly catching up, if not already beating the traditional yellow cab.
And the widespread use of these sharing apps are bringing huge benefits. Not only have these apps made it more affordable to travel, they also encourage people to leave the tourist bubble and engage with local communities. When you live in someone else’s house or sleep on their couch, you are bound to make friends from a different culture. It has almost become customary for these people to show you around while hosting you. This will allow you to ditch the boring and way too shallow tourist excursions and have the experience of a local, while an actual local shows you around their favourite spots.
“This is a generation that is bigger than the boomers in population, but their wallets are smaller, and they are more into the style of life than the stuff of life.”
From personal experience, as a young traveller, I have had some unforgettable experiences and stories, when experimenting with Couchsurfing in multiple countries. Yes, it is a little scary and awkward at first, but it feels really good to know that you have at least one person to go to, when you are in a new country, and they can give you some pretty great advice. From a Couchsurfing host that took me hiking in Milano to an Airbnb host that took us to a secret local’s party on the beach in Zanzibar, those are definitely the experiences I would never have had, if I had stayed in a resort, where my only options would have been the pool or the private beach for paying guests only.
Sharing economy is the only way forward.