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Pricope Vancia, A.P.; Băltescu, C.A.; Brătucu, G.; Tecău, A.S.; Chițu, I.B.; Duguleană, L. Potential of Generation Z Tourists. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/45800 (accessed on 18 April 2024).
Pricope Vancia AP, Băltescu CA, Brătucu G, Tecău AS, Chițu IB, Duguleană L. Potential of Generation Z Tourists. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/45800. Accessed April 18, 2024.
Pricope Vancia, Alina Petronela, Codruța Adina Băltescu, Gabriel Brătucu, Alina Simona Tecău, Ioana Bianca Chițu, Liliana Duguleană. "Potential of Generation Z Tourists" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/45800 (accessed April 18, 2024).
Pricope Vancia, A.P., Băltescu, C.A., Brătucu, G., Tecău, A.S., Chițu, I.B., & Duguleană, L. (2023, June 19). Potential of Generation Z Tourists. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/45800
Pricope Vancia, Alina Petronela, et al. "Potential of Generation Z Tourists." Encyclopedia. Web. 19 June, 2023.
Potential of Generation Z Tourists
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The tourism industry has faced several challenges over the years, due to the evolution of technology and behavioral changes of the generations. The research focused on the new generation of tourists, Generation Z. Known as digital natives, the study aimed to identify their current travel behavior in the digital age and their perception of the future of travel in the context of recent technological developments, namely artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, thus highlighting specific elements that could disrupt the travel industry.

Generation Z tourism disruptors distribution channels travel influencer

1. Generational Shifts in Tourism: The Influence and Significance of Young Travellers

People’s expectations, requirements, or preferences regarding the purpose, place, and time of their holiday vary depending on their age [1]. The tourism industry has evolved with each generation, adding new dynamics [2][3][4]. Understanding how generational changes affect tourist behavior can help predict and adapt to future tourism trends effectively [4].
Currently, there exist four identifiable generations whose age permits them to engage in travel activities [1]. Those are Baby Boomers (born between 1940 and 1959), Generation X (born between 1960 and 1979), Generation Y (born between 1980 and 1994), and Generation Z (born after 1995) [5]. Members of those generations exhibit specific behaviors and consumption patterns due to the context in which they were born and lived most of their lives.
In the post-World War II era, Baby boomers emerged as a generation deeply influenced by their consumption habits as a means of expressing their ideology. Generation X, in contrast, focused on consuming goods and services as symbols of social status, while Millennials leaned towards consuming experiences as a way to shape their identity. For Generation Z, the driving force behind their consumption choices lies in the pursuit of truth, both individually and within their communities. This generation comfortably embraces the idea of not adhering to a single way of self-expression. Their quest for authenticity not only grants them greater freedom to express themselves but also fosters a remarkable openness and empathy towards diverse individuals, facilitating a broader understanding of different perspectives [5].
The inherent variations among generations have naturally resulted in unique travel behaviors [6]. A study by Expedia Group Media Solutions [7] provides insights into the travel behavior of the four generations as follows. Baby boomers, characterized by their confidence and decisive nature, prioritize active exploration, sightseeing, and culinary experiences. Generation X, often seeking family-oriented trips, values cultural experiences, and enjoys off-the-beaten-path activities and recommendations. Millennials, known for their frequent travel and YOLO (you only live once) mindset [8], prioritize diverse experiences, outdoor exploration, and budget-consciousness. They share their experiences online and are accompanied by Generation Alpha, their digitally native children. Generation Z, the mobile-first generation, prioritizes relaxation, bucket-list activities, and cultural experiences. They heavily rely on social media for travel inspiration and use mobile devices for research and booking.
In addition to recognizing the significance of all generations in the tourism ecosystem, the travel industry acknowledges the importance of young travelers [9]. Therefore, it can be argued that Generation Z currently plays a crucial role in shaping the future of the tourism industry [10][11]. Dimitriou and AbouElgheit [12] even proposed a modified model specifically adapted to the travel purchase decision-making process for this generation as a result of a comprehensive analysis of previous research on their travel behavior. Their suggested model comprises five key stages: inspiration, desire for social recognition, planning, search, evaluation, booking, and post-booking evaluation. This model diverges, for example, from the traditional Engel–Kollat–Blackwell (EKB) model of consumer decision-making, which encompasses the following stages: problem recognition, search, alternative evaluation purchase, choice, and outcomes [13].

2. Dynamics of the Travel Industry in the Digital Age

Advances in technology, information, and communications in recent decades have led to rapid changes, which in turn have revolutionized the entire tourism sector [14]. Innovative approaches, modern technologies, and authentic experiences tailored to tourists’ needs foster satisfaction and loyalty toward destinations, as highlighted by recent studies [15]. Moreover, tourists have proven to adapt easily to these technologies, as the convenience of using them has outweighed the potential risks, such as being tracked while traveling [16].
Consequently, technological advancements have caused significant disruption across every aspect of the tourism industry [17], from the emergence of global distribution systems [18][19][20] to advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Metaverse [21].
Online travel agencies (OTAs) are one of the most impressive examples of digital transformation of distribution channels in the tourism sector [22] and are still widely used today. Brands such as Booking.com and Expedia are just two of the best-known companies of this kind [23], which attract hundreds of millions of visitors worldwide to their websites every month [24]. In the same category, another industry disruptor is meta-search platforms. These search engines use technology to allow web visitors to search multiple online platforms simultaneously and help them find more results without having to search multiple web browsers [25]. The best-known platform of this kind is TripAdvisor, which uses the pay-per-click advertising business model as its distribution model [26].
Social media has changed the way people search, find, read, gather, share, develop, and consume information, and the way they communicate with each other and share information [27]. The popularity of this phenomenon has once again led to changes in the tourism industry [28][29]. Tourism businesses have become increasingly concerned about their presence on social media platforms as it allows them to interact directly with clients and constantly monitor customer opinions and evaluations of their services [30]. Moreover, in the digital age, visual representation in social media is more impactful than written text in terms of expressing personal experiences [31][32]. In the context of tourism, travelers can easily use their mobile phones to photograph or film the places they visit on vacation, posting them on social media platforms, thus generating considerable increases in consumption and content creation [33][34].
Mobile technologies are also playing a role in changes in the tourism industry [35][36]. It gives privileges to consumers to identify, customize, and purchase tourism products and services, and suppliers by providing tools to develop, manage, and distribute their offerings [37]. Tourists not only use mobile technology to help them plan their trip, but they also use it during their vacations to communicate, navigate to find activities, relieve boredom, and take photos [38].
The sharing economy is also a controversial topic in the tourism industry [39][40]. Platforms, such as Airbnb and Uber, have disrupted the traditional travel industry by offering alternative accommodation and transport options [41][42][43][44]. These peer-to-peer platforms have enabled travelers to find unique accommodations, local experiences, and transportation services, instead of hotel accommodations and traditional transporters [45].
More recently, themes of advanced technologies as future disruptors in the travel and tourism industry have appeared in the literature. These include Blockchain, by providing decentralized and transparent solutions for various actions such as payment processing and loyalty programs [46][47][48][49], artificial intelligence, by using chatbots, virtual assistants, and recommendation engines [50][51][52] and Metaverse [21], by the use of advanced reality technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, and other emerging technologies that will allow experiences in ways not possible in the real world [53].
The travel industry can maintain its relevance and enhance customer experiences by acknowledging and embracing both generational changes and technological advancements. Generation Z’s profound connection to the realm of technology is inherently strong, primarily because they are recognized as digital natives. As individuals born into a world saturated with digital advancements, they possess a natural affinity and deep familiarity with various technological tools and platforms. This generation effortlessly integrates technology into their daily lives, relying on it for communication, information access, entertainment, and much more. Their inborn understanding of digital technologies and seamless adoption of emerging innovations solidify the profound association between Generation Z and the ever-expanding sphere of technology.

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