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Baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z: what are they and why does it matter to my tour operations business? Well, the truth is everyone should pay attention to newer target markets because millennials are expected to earn 46% of total income in the US by 2025. Yes, that’s right. Todd from down the road who’s obsessed with selfies and Snapchat is expected to earn A LOT of money. So if you want to grow your business, you might have to start catering to more people like Todd. I’m sorry.

What defines a generation?

Years and ages of generations defined

A common misconception is that age defines a generation. However, the truth is generations are defined by their birth years. For example, many people still think of millennials as the college kids who are lazy and obsessed with social media, when in fact most of them are now in their 30s and entering managerial roles. Yes, Todd may be obsessed with Instagram but he’s a manager now, and he has money!

Here’s a quick overview of each generation as of 2019.

Baby boomers

Baby boomers are now in their late 50s and early 60s, which means they’re nearing retirement. As they wind down their professional careers and enjoy more personal freedom, they are beginning to plan more trips abroad. They also have the wealth they’ve acquired over their professional lives and are now looking to spend!

Generation X

Gen X are now between 35 and 50. They’re in the midst of a solid, stable stage of life. The majority of this generation is working hard to take care of their families or throwing plates at the wall as they go through a half-life crisis. You’re either looking at Joe the family man or Miguel, the drunk mess in the corner of your local bar. Because their incomes are largely spent on their families, they have neither the wealth nor the freedom of baby boomers, nor the spontaneity of millennials.


Millennials are now in their 20s and early 30s. This large generation have been revolutionizing the way that we live, work and even travel. This generation is beginning to acquire more wealth and are on-track to becoming the wealthiest generation ever. Furthermore, traveling is more than just a hobby for most millennials – it’s a lifestyle. Millennials are a great generation for tour operators to target.

Generation Z

Gen Z is the generation of young people coming of age just behind the oft-discussed millennials. These children and young adults have grown up with digital technology as a normal part of daily life. They’ve got plenty of time on their hands but budget is a limiting factor.

Which generation should you target?

Chart comparing generations in terms of how much time and money they have

Baby boomers are currently the prime target for most tour operators as they have both money and time. They don’t mind spending a little more on luxury as they have already gathered wealth. They also have plenty of time to go on trips as they are just newly retired.

Following baby boomers, millenials are a great target as they have begun to accumulate wealth but still have time to travel as they have not yet settled into a life of routine.

Generation X do not generally have that much disposable income as they spend their income on their families. They are also usually busy working and caring for their children. Generation Z, on the other hand, have a wealth of time but not much money as they have just begun entering the workforce.

With that being said, tour operators do not need to focus specifically on one generation. You could make products catered towards each generation with different promotions happening throughout the year to capitalize on each generation’s needs.

What products should you make and how should you advertise them?

Chart comparing generations in terms of digital vs. traditional and experience vs. package tours

The trend is currently moving towards experience travel. This means avoiding tourist hotspots and looking for ways to immerse yourself in a culture. For example, a cooking class with a local chef or learning how to paint a landscape with a local artist are the types of experiences gaining popularity. Generation Z, millennials and baby boomers tend to prefer this sort of travel to packaged tours.

These three generations are also tech savvy, as baby boomers now have the time to catch up on technology. This means they spend a large amount of time online. Therefore, tour operators should start investing time and money in digital marketing. For example, through Google or Facebook.

Generation X is the only generation at the moment that still prefers packaged tours. This is because they often travel with their families and prefer simple solutions. Their busy lives also mean they haven’t had the time to keep up with the latest technologies, and so traditional means of advertising are still a great way to reach them. This could be flyers, print and TV.

Do it all!

A great tactic is to do it all! Customize your offerings to fit each generation. That way you could maximize bookings throughout the year as peak periods differ between generations.

Focus your efforts on digital advertising but still utilize some traditional methods. Try out multiple tactics and see what works. If there’s anything I’ve learnt from Tinder its that the numbers game works! The more the merrier!

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