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Survey highlights Gen Z and Millennials’ travel preferences in APEC

Marriott Bonvoy Trends KV

Marriott Bonvoy’s survey reveals APEC Gen Z and Millennials prioritize single, comprehensive loyalty travel programs to enhance their travel experiences.

INDIA – A survey by Marriott Bonvoy, the travel program of Marriott International, has found that a majority of Gen Zs and Millennials in Asia Pacific excluding China (APEC) prefer the simplicity of belonging to one comprehensive loyalty travel program.

While 60% of APEC Gen Zs and Millennials are actively subscribed to loyalty programs, the challenge of juggling several loyalty programs has led most (57%) to seek out one program that meets all their travel needs. Marriott Bonvoy carried out the survey of 1,000 respondents across ten markets in APEC to better understand the shifting attitudes of Millennials and Gen Zs and their travel behaviors. The survey identified an emerging generation of travel-focused, value-driven “Savvy Explorers” in APEC who seek to maximize their travel dollars and unique travel experiences.

Travel in 2024 is a priority for Gen Zs and Millennials: 73% report their intentions to take at least two trips in the next 12 months and 91% plan to spend the same, if not more, on their trips compared to the year before. Travel is viewed as an essential lifestyle component, and most are willing to reduce everyday spending on dining out (60%), shopping sprees (57%) and their daily coffee (54%) so as to spend more on a holiday. 

“Survey results suggest that Gen Zs and Millennials in APEC are purposefully strategizing how they can channel value from their everyday spending toward rewarding travel experiences. They also prefer to be part of only one all-encompassing loyalty travel program that fulfills their needs. To this end, Marriott Bonvoy – which gives members access to over 30 brands in 10,000 destinations — is well positioned to deliver greater value and unlock more experiences for Gen Zs and Millennials,” says John Toomey, Marriott International’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Asia Pacific excluding China.

As a testament to the program’s appeal, we have seen Marriott Bonvoy’s membership base in APEC grow by more than 50% since 2019. What’s more encouraging is that our members are highly active. They earned 40% more points in 2023 compared to 2022, and are putting their points to good use, with points redemptions increasing by more than 55% in the same period,” he reveals.

The trend of greater member growth and activity extends to the Marriott Bonvoy app. APEC member enrolment via digital channels grew by more than 25%, with mobile app downloads and active users more than doubling in 2023 compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The regional survey also uncovered notable trends amongst Gen Zs and Millennials across the 10 APEC countries.

Travel value unlocked through everyday spend

Savvy Explorers take considered steps to unlock travel value through everyday spend. Leveraging on their familiarity with loyalty programs, APEC’s Gen Z and Millennials employ varied tactics to maximize their travel rewards: four in five say they have gone out of their way to use a travel-linked credit card for everyday purchases, and 67% actively use a travel loyalty program to book and redeem local experiences and staycations.

This trend is supported by usage behaviors of Marriott Bonvoy members in APEC. They accumulated points from stays across more than 8,800 Marriott International properties globally and through everyday spend. Redemption for hotel stays in 2023 registered a 130% increase compared to pre-pandemic times, accounting for the majority of redemptions, followed by points-to-miles conversions on partner airlines.

Hotels become a key destination to explore 

Hotel experience is key to winning the hearts and dollars of the Gen Z and Millennial segment, with 99% of respondents believing their hotel choice can make or break their holiday. Hotels are also increasingly viewed as a key destination for exploration, going beyond the role of ‘accommodation’. Nearly four in five respondents expect their hotel to provide curated local programming and experiences, whilst 84% prefer to stay at a hotel with designs and activities reflective of its destination.

The recent debut of Moxy Hotels – noted for its hallmark playful nature, innovative design and contemporary amenities – in key APEC markets exemplifies Marriott International’s commitment to continuously bring new hospitality experiences to the region.

Despite a desire to maximize their travel budgets where they can, their hotel is one area that APEC’s Gen Z and Millennials are willing to invest extra travel dollars towards. Top motivations for new-generation travelers to splurge include the hotel’s room offerings (48%) and location (42%). Whilst amenities remain key considerations, these guests value a seamless travel experience, with mobile-first customer service (61%), reliable WiFi (68%) and flexible check-out (64%) outpacing traditional benefits like lounge access (42%).  

Destination ‘dupes’ fuel intra-regional travel demand

International travel has returned but APEC’s Gen Z and Millennials remain committed to destinations closer to home. While iconic holiday locations like the Swiss Alps and Bora Bora maintain their appeal, 55% are opting for destinations within the region that provide a similar experience. These so-called “destination dupes” are fast gaining traction amongst this segment because they allow Gen Zs and Millennials to stretch their travel expenses (69%), discover something new (63%) and are easily accessible (62%).

As a reflection of robust intra-regional travel demand in 2023, Marriott International saw over 60% of bookings in APEC coming from within the region.

Corporate backpackers on the rise

Gen Zs and Millennials are also taking bleisure travel up a notch by capitalizing on the opportunity of a business trip to embark on multi-destination tours. In addition to extending their travel plans (68%), 84% plan to explore nearby cities and countries as part of their post-work itinerary.

With more than 560 properties across 24 brands in 22 countries and territories in APEC to choose from, Marriott International offers customers a myriad of options to mix work with pleasure.

Off-peak travel maximizes destination experience

Gen Zs and Millennials are also carefully planning when to travel to maximize their trip experience. The majority (71%) of Gen Z and Millennials say they would opt to travel during off-peak seasons so as to beat the crowds and get more out of their trip. 67% feel they can do more during low-peak seasons, and 77% leave their holidays feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated.

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George, in his capacity as an intern, diligently oversees the flow of news, assists in the publication of content, and delves into the strategies of social media distribution. He is currently pursuing his studies in Business Administration at the Athens University of Economics and Business.

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