Millennials and Gen Zs have been driving a whole new paradigm shift in digital behaviours, because of access to apps and user-generated content that never even existed 5 or 10 years ago. And the numbers don’t lie. 60% of millennials turn to Instagram for travel inspiration. Three in five American digital users consume travel-related content — that’s more than 160 million users checking out travel content every month, whether or not they’re actively planning a trip. 97% of Millennials use social media while traveling and 75% post to social networks at least once per day. Globally, there are 370 million millennial travellers in the world, and collectively this generation has driven the biggest behavioural shifts in travel over the last 10 years.
And what we are excited about, is how these digital behaviours, across 100s of millions of users (and growing), are inevitably already driving new inefficiencies — and therefore new opportunities — across the industry, that never existed before we had digital technology right at our fingertips.
So have we reached a tipping point.. And where do we go from here?
From our perspective, these are the biggest digitally-driven behavioural shifts that are causing ripple effects across the travel industry, opening up new opportunities for how we might be travelling in a 2025 world.
1. The digitisation of travel verticals over the last 25 years. The 1990s and early 2000s saw an incredible explosion of search aggregators and booking platforms — from Expedia and Booking.com in 1996, TripAdvisor in 2000, and Airbnb in 2009 — as more people got access to the internet and put their trust in online payments. This drove the start of the shift, away from all-in-one packaged tours by travel agents, and paperback books by the much-loved Lonely Planet, to an increasingly savvy traveller who had the tools to access information that they never could before. Now you can search, compare, map, and book online — never mind that it’s likely across over 10+ websites. And over time, the digitisation of deep travel verticals has also resulted in an increasingly fragmented industry, and travellers are at the receiving end of this — jumping between sites and apps to string their travel plans together. It’s only natural that digital natives are ready for an easy, visual solution comparable to other apps they use in their lives.
2. The decentralisation of travel content. While the travel world was moving from offline to online, in came social media. Say hello to Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest launched publicly in 2010 and 2012 respectively — and over the next decade or so drove the incredible explosion of user-generated content. No longer are centralised sources of expert content (like travel publications and tourism boards) the only source of travel inspiration and information. It’s easier now than ever for anyone to share their travels, and for this to become the first point of inspiration for someone else. Only problem is — social media was not built to serve the needs of travel. It’s hard to find places you love on Insta on a map, or share it amongst a group of friends you’re travelling with.
3. The rise of the creator economy. It is precisely BECAUSE we have become so reliant on visual content, that creators are under constant pressure and expectation to just keep creating. And that brands are more reliant than ever before on a steady, regular stream of approachable, relatable content to keep their brand experience top of mind. We see more brand-influencer platforms than ever, and new content formats and add-ons released on the Instagrams and TikToks of the world. But lining up a steady stream of freelance gigs that pays for the bills as a creator, can be just as frustrating as a travel marketer who feels like they’re feeling their way around the dark with all things creators, content and collabs. These inefficiencies are only set to grow, until we find a way to take into account specific needs of travel and tourism brand experiences, and content creators.
4. Insight-driven engagement and personalisation. It’s more important, and arguably harder than ever for travel marketers to gain a full picture of their audiences — especially when the traveller journey can be stretched out over months, non-linear, and broken across multiple platforms. Without encroaching on data and privacy boundaries, we are inherently conditioned today as users of digital channels to be looking for what we need in a way that is relevant, valuable, and on-demand.
So yes, the digital traveller experience is broken — and the obvious value and opportunity from a traveller perspective is to consolidate this into a simple, personalised experience, with an end-to-end solution that supports our changing digital behaviours.
This is not ground-breaking.
The exciting opportunity is the new interactions and valued transactions we’re able to unlock, when we have travellers, creators, and industry interacting in a different way in this ecosystem, to bring to rise new business models that could thrive in a future world of social, creation/curation, and insight-driven engagement and personalisation.
Open to perspectives on trends and behaviours reshaping the future of travel. Tweet us at @travistravis_co to continue the conversation.