Chil­dren of the World

The busi­ness of travel is get­ting ready for the next, next, next gen­er­a­tion

Business Traveler (USA) - - TALKING POINT -

Much is made these days about gen­er­a­tions – you know, a de­mo­graphic group that, thanks to an ac­ci­dent of birth, is sup­posed to have more char­ac­ter­is­tics in com­mon with one an­other than they have with, say, their par­ents. Right now the de­mo­graphic co­hort du jour that’s gen­er­at­ing all the head­lines is Gen­er­a­tionY, oth­er­wise known as the Mil­len­ni­als. Born some­where be­tween the 1980s and 2000, these young peo­ple seems to be re­shap­ing ev­ery­thing from the ways we all go shop­ping to the rea­sons we travel.

As the fa­ther of a cou­ple of Mil­len­ni­als, I can at­test that they in­deed have more in com­mon with each other than they do with their par­ents. But then, what gen­er­a­tion has ever had any­thing in com­mon with their par­ents – at least un­til time comes for them to try to raise their own kids?

So with that caveat in mind, I have a word of ad­vice for all the GenXers and GenYers out there: Get ready, be­cause de­mog­ra­phers are al­ready talk­ing about the next on­slaught, Gen­er­a­tion Z. These teenagers be­tween the ages of 13 and 18 are start­ing to set them­selves apart from their pre­ced­ing gen­er­a­tions, at least in terms of what they ex­pect from travel.

In a re­cent poll of more than 5,000 Gen­er­a­tion Z youth in nearly 30 coun­tries, the ma­jor­ity are al­ready look­ing at travel and study­ing abroad as a way to ex­pe­ri­ence new ideas and im­merse them­selves in dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent cul­tures than their own. How­ever the re­port, pub­lished by AFS In­ter­cul­tural Pro­grams, finds that these erst­while trav­el­ers are def­i­nitely chil­dren of the times in which they live. Over half the stu­dents (52 per­cent) say they are anx­ious about safety and se­cu­rity, a con­cern which su­per­sedes other more tra­di­tional road­blocks to pur­su­ing in­ter­na­tional study, in­clud­ing fear of iso­la­tion (50 per­cent), home­sick­ness (48 per­cent) and dis­crim­i­na­tion (34 per­cent). So while idea of cul­tural ex­plo­ration is at­trac­tive to Gen­er­a­tion Z, ob­sta­cles re­main. And the ob­sta­cles they face are very real. In my own case, I re­mem­ber the trip we took with our then-mid­dle schooler to Lon­don. We were ex­cited to show her the usual sights; Buck­ing­ham Palace, Hamp­ton Court and the Tower. But in­stead of soak­ing up the cul­ture and his­tory, she seemed more in­ter­ested in Oxford St. shop­ping and a visit to Har­rod’s. Dad came home pretty well con­vinced that the en­tire trip was a waste. I could not have been more wrong. To­day, this same daugh­ter – now all grown up with kids of her own – is a sea­soned trav­eler who loves noth­ing bet­ter than to dust off her pass­port and head out to see the world, and show it off to oth­ers. And her chil­dren, the next gen­er­a­tion, have al­ready dis­cov­ered their own love of travel and ad­ven­ture. The point is, if the up­com­ing gen­er­a­tions have a de­sire to travel, let’s do what­ever we can to en­cour­age them. Be­cause the funny thing is, as our trav­els take us farther afield, our world gets closer to­gether. BT — Dan Booth Ed­i­to­rial Di­rec­tor

The cover of the Fe­bru­ary 2017 is­sue of showed China Air­lines’ new Pre­mium Econ­omy seat­ing. The photo was un­cred­ited. We apol­o­gize for the over­sight.

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