Ellen Bettridge Ellen Bettridge

Younger generations ‘ideal’ target

The travel behaviour and buying habits of Gen Zers and Millennials makes them ideal candidates for cruise – and for travel advisers to point them in that direction, says Ellen Bettridge, president and CEO of Uniworld Boutique River Collection and U River Cruises.


Bettridge was a keynote speaker at Cruise 360 in Sydney last week and says that while the younger age groups out of Australasia take on average 2.8 leisure trips a year, two thirds of them are undecided on a destination when they decide to travel. ‘They are thinking of just going somewhere and that’s a huge opportunity for travel experts selling cruise.’ While 84% of Gen Z said in a recent Skift survey that they head to social media for their inspiration and ideas and to family and fiends for advice, 77% of them are open to help from outside sources. ‘In Australia 59% of them used travel agents, that’s a lot higher than the US at 34%. So they are a receptive market – all you need to do is get in front of them. And when selling them on a cruise you have to help them see themselves in the experience. Find the one or two things you need to get them hooked.’


She says partying and nightlife don’t show up in research as the strong drivers that people may expect. ‘What they do want is food – 35% of Gen Zers prioritise food and 90% of them research what they will eat (on holiday).’ She says 80% of them plan to go meatless for at least one or two days and more than half have ‘self identified’ as vegetarians. ‘It’s not just for health reasons, it’s also because of the environment and global impact. It’s important to them that they are socially responsible. Giving back is also important. Do your homework and understand what partners out there do give back. They care about it.’ She says many young people will gravitate to tours if they provide value (as opposed to just being cheap) and offer personalised experiences and interaction with locals. Parents often steer their children in that direction because they see it as a safer option than backpacking or other independent travel.

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