As a university teacher, I have often remarked that one curious thing about my profession is that I am usually the only one in the classroom who gets older — the students are always 18 (or thereabouts). My work has often involved helping hoteliers and hospitality marketers understand the Millennial generation and the multi-generational travel-scape and work place. Research and daily involvement have helped shape my understanding of the accelerating influence of Millennials on hospitality experiences today and in the future. The topic is often the subject of my posts here as I continue to consider the impact of Millennials on our industry and our environments.
But hold on a minute. What — or, rather, “who” — comes after Millennials? Of course academics and journalists never agree on cohort begin and end dates or the names of generations. Howe and Strauss, authors of the label “Millennial Generation,” call the next generation Homeland Generation. Others have called it Gen Z, Plurals and even the bland post-Millennial Generation. The smart folks at the Pew Research Center ran a contest where readers proposed a few additional monikers. My favorite, which seems to be gaining traction, is iGen. It seems to encapsulate more than just the finger-swiping technology ubiquitous to this generation.
The next generation, born shortly after 2000, is now in its teenage years. Teens have long been understood by researchers and marketers alike to be powerful influencers on consumer trends. A 2014 study by Northeastern University as well as others have discussed some fascinating insights about these teens. As a consumer and guest-experience researcher, I am fascinated about the next wave of Millennials to reach their earnings potential and iGen’s developing tastes and preferences. As hospitality professionals, the industry has a unique vantage point in which to observe and gather data about the memories and experiential history that iGeners are collecting during their family vacations and dining traditions.
What are your predictions about iGen? What is your leading label for the next generation? How will they influence travel and hospitality experiences of the future?