Implications for hospitality and travel: Young people concerned with economic success may be even less willing to accept entry-level jobs, yet under-equipped to take on more demanding roles. This is likely to increase job turnover, even in non-menial positions. The most important asset for motivating and keeping these potential workers will be a strong training program that gives them a clear path for advancement. Unfortunately, this may be difficult to provide.
17. Generation X, the Dot-Coms, and the Millennials are gaining social and organizational influence.
Members of each group—ranging from nearly 50 to the 20-somethings—have much more in common with their peers than with their parents. Their values and concerns are remarkably uniform throughout the world. Socially and in business, they are nearly color-blind and gender-blind. Generation X is starting new businesses at an unprecedented rate, and the Millennial generation is proving to be even more business-oriented, caring for little but the bottom line. They will work for others, but only on their own terms.
Generation X and the Millennials thrive on challenge, opportunity, and training—whatever will best prepare them for their next career move. Cash is just the beginning of what they expect. Employers will have to adjust their policies and practices to the values of these new and different generations, including finding new ways to motivate and reward them.
However, they also have a powerful commitment to society. Gen Xers are mainstays of “voluntourism,” spending part of their vacations on volunteer work. In a recent survey, 60 percent of respondents said they would be interested in doing scientific or environmental work while on vacation. Even more would be willing to teach English or another academic subject.
Assessment: As trends go, this is an evergreen. In ten years or so, we will simply add the next new generation to the list.
Implications: In values, cultural norms, political issues, and many other ways, this change of generations will be every bit as transforming as the transition from the World War II generation to the Baby Boomers.
Employers will have to adjust virtually all of their policies and practices to the values of these new and different generations, including finding new ways to motivate and reward them. Generation X and the Millennials thrive on challenge, opportunity, and training—whatever will best prepare them for their next career move. Cash is just the beginning of what they expect.
For these generations, lifelong learning is nothing new; it’s just the way life is. Companies that can provide diverse, cuttingedge training will have a strong recruiting advantage over competitors that offer fewer opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge base.
Generations X and Millennial are well equipped for work in a high-tech world, but they have little interest in their employers’ needs. They have a powerful urge to do things their own way. As both customers and employees, they will demand even more advanced telecommunications and Internet-based transactions.
Implications for hospitality and travel: These generations have hard noses. Young business travelers may put up with delays when a massive snow storm arrives as they were ready to leave. They won’t like waiting for hours because the airport’s departure schedule is overbooked. Scheduling problems, faulty service, and other down-checks that today’s consumers would accept with minor grumbling will have to be fixed, or tomorrow’s travelers will plaster their disgust all over the Internet.
Millennials especially can be demanding. When they have a problem at an airline, they do not just bother the people at the airport ticket desk. They grab their cell phones and call or text the frequent flier department to apply pressure for a favorable resolution. Satisfying such customers will be a constant challenge. We have seen them arrive at a hotel without a reservation only to find that no rooms are available. Rather than accepting the situation, they called the chain’s frequent-visitor program to complain and ask whether a room might be available after all.
These generations will have no problem spending online sums that would have stopped their parents cold. They will not accept obstacles to their habit of shopping online and clicking “Buy” the instant their decision is made.
This is especially important for the cruise market. If one cruise line is too stodgy to enable online booking—and stodgy, not exclusive, is how they will be perceived—then a more up-to-date operator will get their business.
Baby Boomers rebelled in the early-‘60s, then adopted their parents’ materialism and took it to whole new levels. Generation X, and particularly the Dot-coms and Millennials, have taken another path. They enjoy a Manhattan while surrounded by Rat-Pack retro elegance. Yet, they always pair indulgence with a self-deprecating humor that says it’s not taken seriously. The most successful hotels will find a way to match that sense of feet-on-the-ground fun while providing impeccable service to older guests.
The new generations mean changes for restaurants as well. Although younger travelers are bringing home tastes for new cuisines, it may not be the foods of Uruguay or Nepal that next capture their imagination and limited customer loyalty. Unlike previous generations, the Xers and Dot-coms tend to mix and match. A typical meal might begin with old-fashioned Mexican nachos for an appetizer, then move on to a Thai fish dish with couscous from Algeria and a Chilean wine. Restaurants hoping to attract this crowd will need both imagination and broad experience with the world’s exotic flavors.
The new generations could add a few points to the growth rate for hospitality and travel. They are enthusiastic travelers, willing to drop everything when a friend suggests an adventure. This may not make them the ideal employees by traditional standards, but it does make them great customers.
Expect major growth in eco-tourism and “voluntourism,” thanks to under-40 vacationers.
18. Two-income couples are becoming the norm in most of the industrialized lands, although in the U.S. the trend toward greater employment among women is slowing.
The percentage of working-age women who are employed or are actively looking for work has grown steadily throughout the industrialized world. In the United States, it has grown from 46 percent in 1970 to about 66 percent in 2005, compared with 77 percent of men. In Japan, a majority of households have included two earners since at least 1980.
In the United States, both the husband and the wife worked in 50.9 percent of married-couple families in 2003, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey. This has declined since 1997, when it was 53.4 percent. However, families in which only the woman worked rose for the third straight year, to 6.8 percent, in 2003.
Assessment: In the industrialized nations, this trend has just about played out, as the number of two-income households has begun to stabilize. However, it will be a growing force in India and other industrializing lands for many years to come.
Implications: This emphasis on work is one big reason the richest 25 to 50 percent of the U.S. population has reached zero population growth. They have no time for children and little interest in having large families.
Demand for on-the-job child care, extended parental leave, and other family-oriented benefits can only grow. In the long run, this could erode the profitability of some American companies, unless it is matched by an equal growth in productivity. This also promotes self-employment and entrepreneurialism, as one family member’s salary can tide them over while the other works to establish a new business.
Expect to see many families that usually have two incomes, but have frequent intervals in which one member takes a sabbatical or goes back to school to prepare for another career. As information technologies render former occupations obsolete, this will become the new norm.
Implications for hospitality and travel: Two-career couples can afford to eat out often, take frequent short vacations, and buy new cars and other such goods. And they feel they deserve whatever luxuries they can afford. This is quickly expanding the market for travel and leisure activities. It will continue to skew the travel and hospitality markets away from traditional two-week vacations and toward three-day weekend getaways, “cruises to nowhere,” and other forms of short-term pampering for pressured couples in need of a break.