Gen Z

How your brand can successfully reach Gen Z travelers

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Want to know how to successfully reach Gen Z travelers? Our insights on radical authenticity and marketing with purpose will help brands like yours

Gen Z is the most diverse generation ever, with a strong sense of belonging and allyship with LGBTQ+ communities. They’re also the most likely to investigate the brand purpose and values of the businesses they buy from. We’ve uncovered some valuable insights to help you successfully market your brand to this new generation of travelers. 

Watch the full session or dive into our insights below.

Gen Z really cares that your brand has a purpose

When it comes to successfully reaching Gen Z travelers, having a clear brand purpose is an important starting point. Arjan Dijk, Booking.com CMO, suggested that there are three key ingredients for purpose-driven marketing: a clear and inspiring mission statement, telling the truth, and considering IDEAS topics (inclusion, diversity, equity/equality, accessibility, and sustainability).

More than any previous generation, Gen Z is taking particular interest in how brands represent themselves. “Younger generations today are hypersensitive to the core values, the mission, the direction a brand is going in, and how it’s representing its brand,” said Clark Massad, Vice President & Global Partnerships for the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA). “And when you look at the LGBTQ+ community within that, they’re even more sensitive to this. They want to engage with brands that are aligned with their own values and their own ideals.”

As a result, Gen Z is looking carefully at what brands are saying about their corporate social responsibility and their stances on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). “They’re looking at pages on your websites,” said Massad. “Are you engaging with the community or not?”

Top tip:

Clearly present what you’re doing as a brand from a corporate social responsibility or a DEI standpoint on your website or social media channels, your Booking.com property listing, or at your property.

Click. 2023

The issues that matter most to Gen Z

Diversity and inclusion are two of the most important issues as far as Gen Z is concerned – it’s important that brands “walk the walk” in these areas. 

“Gen Z cares so much because they are the most diverse generation ever. In the US, they are most diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, but LGBTQIA+ is where it becomes even more interesting,” said Brimbelle Grandcolas, Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Disneyland Paris. “20% of Gen Z identify as LBGTQIA+, compared to only 10% of millennials.”

Gen Z is also the first generation to really have the context, vocabulary, role models, and opportunities to discuss these issues openly. “The Gen Z generation, they've grown up with LGBTQ parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, classmates. So it's become a part of their daily lives,” said Massad. “It starts with Gen Z, but it's bubbling up from that generation because they're talking to their parents, their grandparents, and their friends, and just making it more normalized.” 

Top tip:

Offering inclusive hospitality is key – not just to Gen Z travelers, but to all guests. Learn how you can be more inclusive to LGBTQ+ travelers.

How your brand can successfully reach Gen Z and beyond

As Courtney Maywald, our Director of Brand Strategy, said, Gen Z is not only digitally native, but also diversity native, sustainability native, and marketing native. If brands want to successfully reach this audience, they need to make sure their marketing and messaging are authentic. 

Brands need to build up trust with the communities they’re marketing to. “I have to say, Booking’s doing a really good job through their Travel Proud program,” said Massad. “Someone can come and stay in a property and be sure that the property is delivering on that promise.” 

Other examples of trust-building behavior in the travel industry include Alitalia, the first company to introduce “Mx” as a non-binary gender option for bookings, and Disneyland Paris, who train staff on gender and transition.

Brands that don’t “walk the walk” in the way they operate will be quickly found out by a generation tuned in to authenticity and purpose-driven behavior. Rachel Lowenstein, Global Head of Inclusive Innovation at Mindshare, suggested that brands ask themselves whether their actions on diversity and inclusion are a marketing initiative or an integral part of their business. 

She also emphasized the importance of economic empowerment. “That means investing in queer media. That means investing in LGBTQ+ influencers,” said Lowenstein. “That means showing up at Pride, but also showing up at all of the other moments that the community might be celebrating.”

Top tip:

Put your words into action. Discover five actions you can take to show more inclusive hospitality and make your property more LGBTQ+ friendly.


If you make inclusivity and diversity part of your brand purpose rather than just hopping onto marketing trends, you’ll be able to successfully reach Gen Z and support LGBTQ+ guests at the same time. 

 

Click.2022
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How your brand can successfully reach Gen Z travelers
Takeaway
  • Having a clear brand purpose is a key starting point to successfully reaching Gen Z
  • As the most diverse generation ever, Gen Z values brands that care about diversity and inclusion
  • 20% of Gen Z identify as LGBTQ+ compared to only 10% for millennials, so offering inclusive hospitality is key for this audience
  • Diversity should be part of your business – not just a marketing initiative