Last week, Celebrity Cruises hosted a day of panels — entitled the “New New” — with Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure and Departures magazines at New York’s New Museum to find out. Through a number of different sessions, travel experts (including Celebrity’s own marketing guru David Brown) discussed the trends they were seeing with younger travelers and how this would affect consumers at large.
In the first session of the evening, Travel + Leisure Executive Digital Editor Rich Beattie conducted a Q&A with Dr. Jim Taylor, who said that vacations were the number one discretionary expense for “Generation Next.” He also noted that people were the future of marketing, and today’s younger generation held social media opinions above all other elements when making decisions.
“Technology is everything,” he said. “It’s no longer a glittering lure.” Plus, Gen Next doesn’t really want to be sold anything; as children of the recession, they’ve learned to be prudent.
In a second session, a panel of experts spoke about the existing travel habits of Gen Next and what needs people were observing. For panelist Beth Jenkins, a luxury travel consultant for McCabe World Travel, the newest travel trends she’s seeing include finding destinations that are off-the-beaten path, hyper-local, or with farm-to-table food offerings. Tommy Marchant, the co-founder of the travel experience provider the Black Tomato Group, noted that luxury travel was up, and would remain up for the considerable future.
“Luxury is personalization with a focus on uniqueness and rarity,” he explained.
The challenge of technology, rather, is getting yourself and your journey noticed. The best way to stand out and get people’s attention in social media is “cats, obviously,” joked fellow panelist and Senior Community Manager at Uber Edward Casabian. More seriously, the panelists agreed that social media was critical for many elements of travel.
The panelists also agreed the evening ended on a perfect note: with Celebrity Cruises’ Strawberry Fields Forever dessert.