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Is the 18-30 club the solution for post lockdown travel growth?

By Paul Charles

With lockdowns unsurprisingly being extended well into May, we know that we are all in this for the long-haul. There’s almost certain to be a traffic-light system of people returning to their workplaces and daily lives – red, amber and green – based on how critical your role is to the economy and whether you can attend a gathering of more than two people again.

So, if we’re unlikely to have a vaccine in mass production until this time next year, how can the travel and tourism sector get back to life more quickly to help save some of the 75 million global jobs at risk, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council?

I’m a firm believer that the aged 60+ baby boomers, who have used their pension pots to drive some of the substantial growth in travel in recent years, won’t want to risk catching Covid-19 until they know there is a confirmed cure.

They certainly won’t want to risk getting stuck in countries where borders may go up again just as quickly as they came down. The quality of country healthcare systems will also be a major factor in the future in determining where older people travel to, not to mention the likelihood that obtaining travel insurance will be harder and more expensive. Insurers will not offer policies that include coronavirus cover.

So, maybe travel providers should be pointing their PR and Marketing strategies towards the other end of the age spectrum, the 18-30-year-olds who, so far, have been far less susceptible to catching coronavirus, at least catching it badly.

The 18-30s, including the Generation Z category, will seek to travel very quickly after lockdown, to resume their wanderlust for global exploration, and will be far less concerned about the risks from catching coronavirus. It’s this very group that are likely to drive decent growth to help airlines, hotels, restaurants and bars get back on their feet again and rebuild their operations.

According to research by forecasting agency Globetrender, Generation Z are highly nomadic. Travelling and seeing the world is the most important thing they spend their money on, and they will continue to do so after coronavirus lockdowns end. More than a third of Gen Zs look to take three or more trips a year.

This younger age group may be more strapped for cash in the short term but they will undoubtedly be looking for great value, from airlines and tour operators. Having been cooped up in flats for some two months, they will be desperate to travel and regain their freedom.

During this lockdown period, now is the time that marketing teams should be working on fares and packages suited to this group.

The travel industry could adopt the traffic light system itself to get things moving again – green for 18-30-year-olds, amber for 30-60-year-olds and red for 60+, the age group that will take much longer to venture beyond their homes again.

The Club 18-30 brand died along with Thomas Cook’s demise – maybe it’s time for a revival?

Paul Charles is CEO of travel PR consultancy The PC Agency, and former Virgin Atlantic and Eurostar Communications Director.