New generational data released by Expedia® Media Solutions, the advertising arm of Expedia, Inc., reveals that when planning a trip, American, British and Chinese travellers prioritize trip activities, once in a lifetime and cultural experiences above all else. Presented today by Global Senior Director Wendy Olson Killion during the Expedia Media Solutions Insights Summit at the Expedia Partner Conference, the findings, from a survey conducted by Northstar Research Partners, illustrate broad travel trends and distinct shopping habits, influences and motivations of American, British and Chinese travelers across four generations, including Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers.

“Emotions, not dollars, are what drive decisions for most travellers today,”

said Olson Killion.

“The study revealed that for travellers from three of the largest global markets – China, the U.S. and U.K. – activities and experiences are leading priorities, ahead of deals and lowest price. The data also showed that travellers are receptive to ads with appealing imagery and informative content, illustrating a real opportunity for marketers to align their content with traveller interests to spur consideration.”

While priorities are somewhat similar across countries and generations, travel days and penchant for internal or domestic trips vary. In the U.S. and China, Millennials travel the most, with 35 travel days per year, while in the U.K., Baby Boomers out-travel other generations with 31 days per year. Conversely, British Gen Z travels the least, racking up only 21 total travel days per year. British travellers are most likely to go abroad, while American and Chinese travellers are more likely to explore their own vast countries.

Trip types & travel logistics

  • Across all generations, British and Chinese travellers opt for relaxing and sightseeing vacations. In the U.S., Millennials and Gen X are most likely to take relaxing trips, while the youngest and oldest generations are taking trips to visit family.
  • Nearly 60 percent or more of all travellers get to their destination by plane. Road trips are the secondary transportation option in the U.S. and U.K., and train travel is also popular in China and the U.K.
  • Hotels are the number one accommodation option for the majority of travellers in these countries, with more than 60 percent staying at a hotel. Although still small in comparison, Gen Z is the generation most likely to stay in alternative accommodations.

Planning priorities

  • Across all generations, trip activities are priority number one for American and British travellers, followed closely by once in a lifetime experience for American travellers and cultural experiences for British travellers.
  • Chinese Gen Z and Millennials prioritize feeling pampered during their vacation, while trip activities top the list for Gen X and Baby Boomers.
  • American and British travellers – particularly Baby Boomers and Gen X – place more importance on deals and special offers than Chinese travellers, who are more likely to prioritize the social elements of travel, such as the food experience and going somewhere they can vacation with friends.

Budget basics

  • More than 80 percent of Chinese travellers and at least 65 percent of American and British travellers said the budget was a primary factor when planning a trip.
  • All travellers allocated the largest portion of their travel budget to hotels—more than 30 percent for British travelers—and at 20 percent, flights were the second largest line item for American and British travellers.
  • Chinese travellers allocated more of their budget to shopping (16 percent) and attractions or tours (15 percent) than travellers from other countries.

Destination decisions & booking resources

  • Travelers can be destination indecisive; fewer than half have decided on a destination when they begin planning a trip.
  • Younger generations are consistently the most open to inspiration; nearly 80 percent of British Gen Z travellers are deciding between multiple destinations or don’t have a destination in mind.
  • Baby Boomers are the most decisive – nearly 55 percent from the U.S. and China have already decided on a destination.
  • Online travel agencies (OTAs) and search engines are leading planning resources for all travellers, and as the leading booking resource, OTAs convert the most travellers.

Advertising influences

  • Approximately half of all travellers and more than 70 percent of Chinese Millennials said ads with appealing imagery can be influential.
  • Ads with informative content are most likely to influence younger Chinese travellers and older American and British travellers.
  • American and British travellers, especially younger generations, are most likely to be influenced by advertising with appealing deals.