In the past couple of weeks many countries around the world have started easing the lockdown measures following a reassuring trend in the COVID-19 health indicators. Some of them, such as Vietnam and Cambodia, are even ready to welcome international travelers from various countries for tourism purposes. Such a positive outlook now makes hospitality and tourism marketers wonder, which consumer segment could be the most eager and able to rebound and start wandering the world once again.
The young and reckless
On the one hand, millennials seem to be in the right spot to hop on the first plane offering commercial routes. This generation is used to the world without borders, traveling across continents both for work and leisure, and is also the most adept in using technology, making it easier to adapt to the new requirements while on the road (e.g. contact tracing apps). Moreover, since COVID-19 is known to affect older generation more, the millennials and Gen-Z may be the least risk averse travelers for the time-being. The recent experience of China’s Labor holidays seems to confirm this point. According to Trip.com, the post-90s and post-00s accounted for more than half of the total bookings during the recent May Day break.
On the other hand, though, this pandemic is the first serious global crisis the millennials are going through in their lives. They were too young, unmarried and largely in their first jobs or at universities when the 2008-2009 crisis struck, and the economy has been mostly expanding ever since. Such negative shock is bound to change their habits, including travel ones, especially as many of them now bear extra responsibilities in the forms of families and mortgages. Moreover, according to some estimates, people in their late 20s – mid 30s are currently the ones mostly affected in the labor market, which might further incline them to prefer saving to spending, at least in the short term.
The wise yet energetic
The one age group that is not affected by the labor markets though is the seniors past the pension mark. While the majority of marketers seem to push them out of the picture justifying it by the facts that 65+ year old travelers are perhaps the most risk averse group, and would not be ready to put their health at stake for a couple weeks of vacation, seniors may very well be more used to the notion of unpredictability and are more likely to follow government’s advice on the precautions to take while on the road. They have also been working their whole lives in order to afford the many spoils life has to offer, travel being one of them, and may not be ready to give up on their dreams so easily. Moreover, they are gaining fluency with technology - as the whole world is undergoing massive digitization, many of them do not want to feel left behind.
The rich and flexible
Another potential segment worthy of attention is generation X, who are by far the largest wealth holders almost everywhere in the world. Given that COVID-19 has left a heavy mark on the global economies, perhaps, it makes sense to focus not on those, who are the most eager to restart their adventures, but the ones who can actually afford to. According to the recent estimates, people in their 40s – 50s are the least negatively affected in the labor market, yet still quite adaptable to feel comfortable with the new travel rules, and as such might want to take advantage of the discounted flights and uber-flexible package deals.
In conclusion, given that it is still too early to judge who would become the main revenue generator in the post-pandemic travel world, it is perhaps worthy to remember that there is no silver bullet and the specific demographic mix depends enormously on the characteristics of the location and property at question. As such, just as before, the industry professionals should take note of all potential customers and try to diversify their marketing approach.