Travel Agents Need to Get Ready for Gen Z

Travel agents need to start thinking about how they will win over Gen Z customers By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2018 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2018 TravelAge West

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A few years ago, I wrote a story about Virtuoso’s “Return on Life” program. Part of this initiative involved identifying and working with parents who believe that travel can help make their kids better future citizens of the world. Virtuoso called this the “Journey to Global Citizenship.”

“Many parents seem to share the idea that travel is no longer a luxury, but a necessary component of education,” I wrote in the story. “In addition, as the name suggests, the Journey to Global Citizenship emphasizes a moral component to creating more compassionate, knowledgeable world citizens.”

Now, several years later, whether they were assisted by Virtuoso agents or not, this generation of global leaders are making an impact. We’ve seen these kids (and many of them are technically still children) in mainstream media headlines — receiving major awards, confronting injustice and standing up for themselves with complete confidence. And, as they have matured and become adults, what do you know, they actually do seem to be on a path to compassionate, knowledgeable global citizenship.

This issue’s cover story, “Agents of Change” (page 16), takes a closer look at Gen Z. The good news for travel advisors is that this is a generation that is more connected to the world than any before it. These young people have, for the most part, never known life without social media — making them feel like they are part of a worldwide community. Not only have many of them traveled since birth, but they have always had images of far-off places literally at their fingertips.

Also, having come of age while feeling the effects of Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina, global warming and the worldwide financial collapse, many of these kids have had to grow up fast. When it comes to realizing Gen Z’s travel desires, agents will need to step up their game in order to wow these future clients — and they won’t get a lot of chances, because this generation also has very little patience.

We are just at the beginning of Gen Z’s story, but I sincerely hope to be inspired by watching these global citizens fearlessly travel the world.

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