A Tourism Inflex: Generation Z Travel Experiences
Purpose The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it highlights the emergence of Generation Z and the interface of its members with the tourism system. Second, by way of a theoretical model, the paper provides a more holistic approach to understanding Generation Z travel experiences in which the emphasis is shifted from the destination to the traveller. This is in keeping with the trend which lays more emphasis on people rather than landscape.
Design/methodology/approach This is qualitative research founded on an interpretive (constructivist) paradigm. Selecting Generation Z as the subject locates this study under generational theory and assumes prima facie a socially constructed reality. The paper is based on research conducted in New Zealand aimed at understanding the travel experiences of inbound Generation Z travellers. Data were collected from 12 semi-structured interviews lasting about 30 min each and from 5 blogs. Nvivo 11 programme was used in analysing data and developing themes. Core categories and related themes were generated forming building blocks of a theoretical model.
Findings Findings revealed interplay of multiple factors in Generation Z’s travel experiences at a destination. The factors are global in nature, destination centric and those which are immediate or proximate to the individual. To fully grasp the notion of experience requires the gestalt of the three as well as pre-trip, during-trip and post-trip factors.
Research limitations/implications The impact of significant events upon participants is assumed. A specific analysis of the events and the magnitude of their influence on the individual participants may be necessary.
Practical implications Destination marketers tend to concentrate on psychological aspects to appeal to the traveller. The focus, in this case, is creating an attractive image in the mind of travellers to get them to come to the destination. This research suggests shifting the focus to understanding the evolving traveller.
Social implications Governments and tourism purveyors may require an ever-increasing budget to map out strategies to meet the continuously morphing needs of the future traveller. The constantly evolving global environment necessitates greater flexibility in institutional framework with less bureaucratic bottlenecks.
Originality/value Generation Z is a relatively new entrant into the tourism market which makes this research relevant and timely. The paucity of academic literature on a generation which is contemporaneously in its “highly influenceable” period of life and entering adulthood in an increasingly changing world is further credence for this research. A more holistic theoretical model to understanding Generation Z travel experience is proposed.