Gen Z sought out cruises, while there was a 33% increase in over-55s searching for adventure holidays

‘Generation Z’ or ‘Generation Sensible’?

2018 was the year that Gen Z – broadly defined as adults under 24 – was assigned the new title, ‘Generation Sensible’, after reports showed that the age group is drinking less alcohol than generations before, consuming fewer drugs, and teen pregnancy rates also falling. This phenomenon now impacts their holiday choices too, according to findings from Hitwise’s UK Travel Report.

Hitwise found that cruises, traditionally the domain of the older traveller, are proving surprisingly popular with Generation Z.

Interest for cruises amongst 18-24 year olds increased 49% last year. The increase means that adults aged 24 and under accounted for 10% of all cruise searches online in 2018. Audience share from those aged 35-54, however, fell on average, with searches from Millennials (aged 25-34) also stagnating. The only other age group to show an increase in audience size for cruises was adults aged over 55, where searches increased by 9%.

Interest in adventure holidays rises amongst over 55s

If Generation Z became more interested in cruising, what did they shy away from in 2018? The Hitwise report found that audience interest in adventure holidays fell 23% in 2018 amongst this age group.  In fact, the data showed a strong increase in adventure holidays by over 55s, up by a third (33%) year-on-year.

Overall, Generation Z accounted for a smaller proportion of searches for adventure holidays than any other age group, suggesting a shift in the sort of holidays young people now seek.

Looking at non-generation specific trends, the report also demonstrated a strong trend towards solo travel. It found that in the past two years, searches for ‘solo travel’ have more than doubled (up 112%), reflecting how there has been a shift to people liking the idea of travelling alone.

Brits still prefer to search for holidays on a traditional desktop

Another interesting trend was that whilst Brits are happy to browse for holidays on their mobile, they still prefer to book on desktop. Indeed, 60% of operator and hotel searches were done on mobile, whereas 42% of airline searches were. But despite this, less than a fifth of Brits (18%) actually book on a mobile device.

What can the industry learn from this?

Travel is the latest space for Generation Z to make their mark. Breaking the habits of past generations, younger people are adopting a more risk-averse attitude to travel. In the same way that a focus on health and wellbeing has led to a decline in the consumption of cigarettes and alcohol, the likes of cruises have replaced more dangerous, adrenaline-fueled adventure holidays.

The figures from the Hitwise travel report show that the 18-24 age bracket had a big impact on the industry last year. With the added impetus on sedate and relaxed holidays, marketers will need to change the way they package offerings to this particular audience in 2019, as Generation Z continue to look for experiences in unorthodox places.

Marie Dalton

Marie Dalton


Marie Dalton, Marketing Director EMEA at Hitwise.