Cruising to the Future with Generations Y and Z at Seatrade
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
There is no longer a clear predomination of the cruise market driven by baby boomers. Millennials (Generation Y) and Generation Z are swiftly moving in, and the discussion at Seatrade Cruise Global 2016 included the burgeoning groups far more than in previous years.
The State of the Global Cruise Industry panel kicked off the conference, and at the forefront of statistics shared was an update on adults interested in taking a cruise in the next two years. 34 percent remain baby boomers (aged 50-68), but remarkably 32 percent are millennials (aged 18-35), of which I myself, at 32, am squarely included. In fact, there are now more millennials than baby boomers, and we make up the single largest group of travelers in North America.
Illustrating millennial influence on the industry were my own social media efforts to Periscope the conference via live video, which were featured, unbeknownst to me ahead of time, in the “Generation Y-2-Z Social Media Innovation: Live Streaming, Content Sharing + Viewer Engagement = Capitalizing on Opportunity” panel. The slide below, shared courtesy of presenter Thomas Buchte, features my “How You Can Follow Seatrade Cruise Global Live on Periscope” article URL and a screen grab of one of my Periscope tweets from my Popular Cruising Twitter account.
The topic of conversation was about how millennials and Generation Z are collectively engaging more onboard cruises, sharing the story of their experiences in real time and requiring more internet bandwidth and overall attention from the cruise lines.
And the cruise lines are listening. They realize that these new generations are influencing the perception of cruising as they create visual content that affects the travel choices of those following the feeds from around the world. To accommodate, Carnival Corporation continues to invest in high-bandwidth internet improvements across its brands, and Royal Caribbean International has introduced the high-speed Voom service on its newest ships as well. In fact, it is specifically inviting its onboard guests and crew to stream video as part of its Come Seek Live marketing initiative.
What’s more, even though they are not yet old enough to buy cruises independently, Generation Z (today’s tweens and teens) are influencing their parents and the industry as well. At the “Move Over Millennials: How Gen Z Is Reshaping Expectations” panel, presenter Marcie Merriman took a deep dive into the world of this up-and-coming market.
Most notably revealed, 65 percent of parents say that their children influence family vacation decisions, amounting to a staggering $600 billion in spending power. Bucking entitlement, this is a completely different generation of open-minded YouTubers who have grown up with technology (thanks to tablets) always at their fingertips, watching the likes of PewDiePie, craving authenticity, being highly productive and seeking purpose. The bottom line is if this generation has this much influence now, cruise lines should hop on the Generation Z bandwagon sooner than later to stay ahead of the curve.
During the panel it struck me how one line in particular seems very well suited to them, and that’s Fathom and its purpose-driven impact travel mission. As a “voluntourism" brand accommodating multiple generations of participants, it is without question the most already in line with Generation Z, and it hasn’t even launched yet. But it will definitely be ready when it does in April 2016 though.
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