Abta (Association of British Travel Agents), introduces “Generation T,” a cohort of 18–24-year-olds that stands out as a key demographic for travel planning in 2024. These young individuals, referred to as Generation T, demonstrated a remarkable affinity for travel, averaging 2.7 holidays between September 2022 and August 2023, compared to almost half as many (1.4) taken by other demographics during the same period. Interestingly, this isn’t a new trend, as Generation T maintained an average of 2.2 holidays between August 2022 and September 2021.
For travel agents considering a focus on younger customers, Generation T offers a convenient advantage – their preferred destinations align with those favored by other demographics. This means that agents won’t need to acquire extensive knowledge of new locations to attract a younger customer base. According to Abta’s Travel Trends research, Generation T expresses a desire to travel to popular destinations such as Italy, France, the US, Spain, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, China, and Ireland. The only exception on their list is China, setting them apart from other demographics.
Graeme Buck, Abta’s head of communications, emphasises the robust travel inclination within Generation T, highlighting their aspiration for longer and more adventurous holidays. Mr Buck notes that more than three times as many Generation T travellers express interest in adventure holidays compared to other generations. Chris Roche, founder of The Adventure People, notes that these travellers, who may have embarked on Jet2holidays, Tui, or easyJet trips during their younger years, are now earning wages and seeking to “spend their money on something different.”
Another emerging trend highlighted by Abta is the rise of “Shoulder Shoppers” – British travellers showing a preference for spring trips over summer. This trend, identified before the pandemic, is making a return, with 48% of travellers expressing interest in March, April, and May trips compared to 46% favouring summer travel. While companies are recognizing and adapting to this trend, Mr Buck raises the question of whether this signals the end of the traditional summer break. He reassures that 46% still plan to have a summer holiday abroad, suggesting a healthy continuation of the traditional summer break.
Abta’s exploration of traveller behaviours also unveils the concept of “Neophiles,” individuals seeking novel experiences. Approximately 47% of those polled express a likelihood of trying a new city/resort, and 41% are considering booking a holiday to a new country in the next 12 months. Buck notes a considerable bounce back from the lows of 2020 in terms of neophile interest, although the numbers are still lower than in 2018. Despite this, he anticipates a continued upward trajectory in neophile preferences over the next year or so.
Neil Sealy, managing director of tour operator Exoticca, observes that customers are increasingly looking further afield to destinations like Peru and Japan, exploring new territories. However, he emphasizes that customers remain price-sensitive, seeking “a really good price to get to that destination.”
In the realm of post-pandemic travel trends, Anne Williams, managing director for Inghams, Esprit Ski, and Santa’s Lapland, notes a significant surge in interest for Inghams’ walking holidays. These attract a new audience of individuals who developed a passion for walking during the pandemic and now wish to pursue this interest on holiday. Additionally, there’s a sustained interest in Lapland programs, particularly from families and older couples seeking to witness the Northern Lights.
The final aspect of Abta’s exploration centres on sustainability, with holidaymakers surveyed asked to pick from a list of sustainability actions. This includes choosing a destination closer to the UK, selecting a company with a better environmental and social record, or opting for alternative transportation to avoid flying. Notably, younger travellers (18-24) showcase a higher willingness to pay more for environmentally and socially conscious holidays (18%), compared to 3% among those aged 65 and older. This data indicates that 18-24-year-olds are actively taking steps toward sustainability, surpassing the average consumer in their commitment to environmentally responsible travel.