MISUNDERSTANDING GENERATION Y: RISKS FOR TOURISM MANAGERS

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Abstract

Generation Y has become more than simply a label used to describe people born between 1980 and 1994, it has become a symbol of a proposed new culture said to be unlike any before it, with a unique set of values, skills and behaviors that transcend geography and ethnicity. The consequences of this emerging culture are only just beginning to be discussed in higher education as these individuals become the core group of college students and in human relations as they enter the workforce. But Generation Y also represents a significant market for tourist operations. So are the claims made about this group true? And what are the implications of these claims for tourism managers? Both longitudinal and cross-sectional research is needed to reduce the risks that tourism managers face in dealing with this new generational cohort. This paper demonstrates the value of such research by describing a specific study that utilised time series data to examine the emergence of Generation Y in a major tourist destination in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef. The overall pattern of results suggested that the use of generational cohorts as a market segmentation tool was valid and that Generation Y was indeed emerging as a group of travellers with a unique pattern of characteristics, motivations and expectations. The data in the study showed that emerging youth markets are not like those in the past and this has implications for the provision, marketing and sustainability of current tourism activities.

 

MISUNDERSTANDING GENERATION Y: RISKS FOR TOURISM MANAGERS

Generation Y has become more than simply a label used to describe people born between 1980 and 1994, it has become a symbol of a proposed new culture said to be unlike any before it, with a unique set of values, skills and behaviors that transcend geography and ethnicity. The consequences of this emerging culture are only just beginning to be discussed in higher education as these individuals become the core group of college students and in human relations as they enter the workforce. But Generation Y also represents a significant market for tourist operations. So are the claims made about this group true? And what are the implications of these claims for tourism managers? Both longitudinal and cross-sectional research is needed to reduce the risks that tourism managers face in dealing with this new generational cohort. This paper demonstrates the value of such research by describing a specific study that utilised time series data to examine the emergence of Generation Y in a major tourist destination in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef. The overall pattern of results suggested that the use of generational cohorts as a market segmentation tool was valid and that Generation Y was indeed emerging as a group of travellers with a unique pattern of characteristics, motivations and expectations. The data in the study showed that emerging youth markets are not like those in the past and this has implications for the provision, marketing and sustainability of current tourism activities.