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Who are Generation X?
Generation X is the bridge between the baby boomers and the millennials. Born from the early 60’s to mid 80’s (the dates vary depending on who you read) we were the generation brought up analogue, arranging raves without mobiles, we learned how to socialise before social media. Then the world moved into the digital arena. We took the technology developed by Bill Gates and showed the world what it could do. We wrote the games and programmes, carried the first mobile phones and wrote the first text messages. We invented social media.
A small but powerful generation that’s now at its peak, ranging in age from late 30’s to late 50’s. Some say we are the silent generation but we’ve very much come of age.Often characterised as adrift and apathetic the latch keys kids of the 80’s and 90’s with grunge and raves. Less self-obsessed and quietly working away. We tend to shy away from the limelight compared to the generations before and after us.
The generation that dominates Facebook – over 85% of us are on there. We’ve had Thatcher and Watergate, boom and bust economy, recession and corporate greed. Negativity equity and high unemployment.
The Breakfast Club, Ferris Beullers Day Off, boom boxes and Walkmans, HIV, microwaves, video tapes, we got punk at primary school, invented grunge, danced to techno and 80’s glam rock, Radiohead alienation and self-loathing, Brit pop and Chernobyl.
For me, it was Aerosmith, U2, Blondie and Bowie. Watching Little House on the Prairie and The Young Ones. TV changed from one channel that went off at night to satellite and cable. Star Trek, Star Wars, Footloose, Fame and the lost boys. The world wide web was invented in 1989, the same year I turned 21 and travelled to Istanbul, with no mobile phone and no Google.
In the US our generation had higher student loan costs and in the UK half of Generation X got grants the other half were the first to experience tuition fees and student loans. With high unemployment in the late 80s and debts, we became the entrepreneur generation. The Berlin Wall came down so we went over and helped rebuild. The cold war ended so we sold luxury to the new rich Russian elite.
Some call us the anti childhood generation, with the invention of birth control, legalised abortion, mothers going out to work and higher divorce rates. Generation X were the latchkey kids who have turned into highly adaptable adults.
We’re cynical and untrusting of governments, with the entitlements afforded the boomers being stripped away from Generation x on both sides of the Atlantic. We’re tech savvy, Instagrammers and bloggers we don’t take nonsense. Advertisers have to think differently to get through to the Xer.
Travel and Generation X
While many in the tourism industry have been focused on either retired or younger travellers as combined their spending power is much greater, some are now acknowledging that generation X are starting to make them rethink.
What do Generation X travellers want?
They want a little luxury but not necessarily in the organised tour or cruise way the previous generation did. Think boutique hotel that nobody has heard of, a little more adventurous and experience focused it’s not all sitting around the pool drinking beer. Though some of us want that too, we’re a mixed bunch.
A Small family run guest house in out of the way place for a 3-day break with good local wine to savour. Many X’ers are still working and supporting the family short breaks are easier to fit. City breaks but not an overcrowded Paris or New York in summer.
When Generation X go on a cruise then the strict timetable, stuffed on buses and taken around on mass at each location isn’t for them. They want food they can’t get back home and learn how to cook it too. They want to experience the real country. That might sound similar to what you hear millennials want, we are their parents.
According to travel agency central they are more likely to Independent travellers with only 15% likely to book through a traditional agent.
Generation X are people who want a little comfort on the road. They’ve done things the hard way and don’t need to repeat it. They backpacked in their 20’s, some have spent the last 20 years working hard and bringing up children, now they want to have fun but in comfort.
Many still have children and the family holiday is still important with some planning multi generational trips. Booking independent villas and holiday homes and then heading out to explore the area while leaving the rest of the family at the rental. Travel companies and resorts need to rethink how they appeal to a mix of different generations in the same place at the same time.
My Generation X travel blogging experience
At university in my 30’s, I read Generation X. At the time it didn’t feel like me, I didn’t have a McJob, I wasn’t a yuppie or afraid of a nuclear holocaust. I was ex-armed forces and had bought and sold a house already. Of course, that version of Generation X wasn’t written by us, it was the previous generations’ view of us. We are writing it now in our blogs, books and online communities.
Recently I’ve seen a couple of articles in the general press about how generation X is a small and forgotten generation and lots from the travel media about the importance of millennials for brands and destinations. Interestingly I use a program called canva to create graphics for the blog and to make images for this post. When looking for a stock image of a couple with a map there were lots of very young and lots of grey haired travellers but nothing in between.
At one point I was hesitant about travel blogging as I held the misconception it was just for younger bloggers, not me. I have since met, talked to and worked with many travel bloggers of different ages from all over the world and age doesn’t matter. Some of the best-known travel bloggers are generation X so why does the media give the impression that it’s all about youth?
We are certainly not forgotten, we started the first blogs and first travel blogs. Our generation is online and engaging with us every day, in some ways more, my audience is small but they read and comment, they are engaged. They don’t just click like and move onto the next thing as quickly as millennials appear to.
My blog encompasses the wonderful life I’ve had travelling the world since that first trip in 1989. It’s influenced by 11 years of living overseas and having the advantages of getting to know other cultures and traditions much deeper than a 2-week holiday can. I’ve been lucky to make some wonderful friends along the way and share some extraordinary experiences.
It shouldn’t matter what age a blogger is, equally it shouldn’t matter what age a traveller is. I’ve met back packers of all ages and seen young families come off cruise ships. Looking at the world through physical age no longer works today. Maybe it’s time the travel industry started aiming their products types travellers rather than age.
I asked a variety of different travel bloggers what they thought of the being generation X, blogging and the industry in general
Why should you take Generation X travel bloggers seriously?
– Rebecca Hall
I’d like to answer this with a question: why shouldn’t you? When I was approached and asked if I’d like to contribute to this piece, I was intrigued at first because, I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what a ‘Generation X’ person was. That’s because I’ve never defined myself with a label.
When I found out the terminology for Generation X – and that I apparently fit this bracket – I was even more curious: my age has never been a ‘thing’, so why make it into one now? So what that I am in in my 40s and started a travel blog in my 30s? Are there really people out there that will put my age before my experiences first and not bother to read my site?! WOW – that blew me away. As I said; my age has never been an issue, in anything. In fact, I doubt my readers even know my age.
So when I was asked how I found the experience, being a Generation X blogger, I genuinely struggled (and struggle) to answer that question. I needed further clarification. So I was given a comparison; between a Millennial blogger, for example. Again, I drew a blank.
In my mind, we all have our own travel experiences to bring to the table, and all different experiences – and these should be celebrated, not be treated as a competition between the age groups.
But as I got to thinking, one thing did crop up:
I travelled and had lived abroad, THEN decided to start a blog based on these experiences. I didn’t initially travel just for the sake of my blog.
So maybe my age does bring some bearing onto the blogging:
As a woman in my early 40s, I’ve been blessed with a rich experience of travelling to, working and volunteering in different countries. All experiences were rich and diverse in the sense of the types of culture I had (and still do) experience…and I wanted to share this with the wider world, to show people that despite our misconceptions and what the mainstream press tells us, we need to explore the borders of geography – and the borders our minds put up, hence Life Beyond Borders Blog was born.
It’s a blog about the various travel experiences, with a strong focus on Greece as I find myself anchored more and more to this beautiful country. The sheer fact that I fall into the category of a Generation Xer, purely because of my age, means that I’ve had longer to develop the skills of travelling and working abroad. But it doesn’t mean that someone of a Millennial age bracket won’t be able to provide equally interesting insight – as I say, we all bring something unique to the table.
So age shouldn’t be a factor in blogging, I sincerely hope it’s not.
Thoughts from a new GEN X blogger
– Sandra Papas
When I first started my travel blog almost a year ago I was a little concerned that my demographic may present as a challenge. I was not concerned about my own skills and experience, in fact had every confidence that 30+ years of Corporate and Small business working across HR, Finance, Marketing and Technology ( as well as a burning passion for travel, photography and food) gave me a distinct advantage over many of the young bloggers out there.
Building Networks and collaborations come easily to many Gen X’rs. Years of building relationships and communicating before Social Media and smart phones see us equipped to represent brands in a professional and considerate manner. At my first Influence event, many of the young bloggers were too busy on their technology to chat with the key staff members and follow up with the appropriate contact. How many of those Millennials and their followers actually have the time or the money to invest in a product or service that a Blogger or Influencer might be promoting anyway?
There are some great young Bloggers out there but I’ve heard many brands and PR agencies talk about a huge sense of entitlement from many. I’ve found a number of brands that far prefer to work with more mature and experienced people who will do justice to their brand and not let them down. My favourite Bloggers are mostly Gen X and I’ve watched them grow with well thought out business plans, hard work and determination. I’ve built over 7000 social media followers in less than 10 months myself and my followers are engaged and active consumers.
Slow and steady wins the race!
Sandra Papas the writer behind Tray Tables Away is a self-confessed travel addict. Based in Brisbane, her travel tips and tales for mature travellers benefit from her experience. She juggles working part time in HR, as qualified Interior Designer helping out her husband’s construction business and raising a family.
Why brands value generation X
– Dave Briggs
Born in 1972, I fall about slap bang in the middle of Generation X. I grew up with computers (remember the Vic20 and ZX Spectrum?), have transitioned from cassette tape, to CD, to digital download, and have seen the internet develop from a cute idea to something we take for granted. Travel has also changed a great deal over this time, from the way we research our trips to booking them and taking pictures.
I started travel blogging back in 2005 when the term ‘blogging’ wasn’t in such common usage. I used the blog as a platform to share my travel experiences and was at first amazed when people outside of my circle of family and friends started visiting, commenting, and sending me emails. To be honest, I still am, and it always makes my day when I receive an email or a message from someone I have never met saying how something I have written or filmed has helped them. I think this is reflective of our generation. Generation Xers seem on the whole to have more of a sense of appreciation, and less of a sense of entitlement. These are qualities which appeal to brands when they look for people to work with.
Over the years, I have worked with a number of brands who have seen value in creating mutually beneficial collaborations. My experience of this has shown that you need to be able to provide a brand two things. The first is that you should appeal to their chosen demographic. The second is that you should have a level of expertise in an appropriate area or niche. Tick these two boxes, and brands will take you seriously as a Generation X travel blogger.
Gen X the key to reaching the perfect demographic for your travel product or destination.
– Julie Beckers
If you are you looking to attract a wider audience to your travel product or destination, working with Generation X Travel Bloggers and Influencers could be your answer. Marketing professionals around the world recognise that cross -generational marketing is key to attracting the largest audience. Gen X Travel Influencers are in the prime position to attract not only their own generation but the Baby Boomers and Gen Y too, enabling the widest audience of potential customers across the world.
Let’s face it, to get the most bang for your marketing buck social media is a primary advertising delivery mode used in today’s world. Contrary to popular belief, Gen X is highly active on Social Media, for our generation, Facebook is king and we are regularly found on Twitter and Instagram too. We are active on Linkedin and are savvy with email and traditional marketing campaigns. Gen X’ers love reading blogs and interacting as part of a social media community. But most of all, Gen X are at the peak of our earning and spending years.
The proof is in the pudding though. When I first started my blog A Not So Young Woman Abroad, I was amazed at how quickly it grew in popularity. In less than a year it has amassed an audience of over 25,000 people across demographics around the world. Its audience consists of people of all ages, primarily between 25 and 65+ years old, with both brands and community members taking it very seriously. A Not So Young Woman Abroad was quickly named in a number of Top 100 Travel Blogs lists. Travel Brands and Tourism Boards love my target demographic.
On Social Media, A Not So Young Woman Abroad has a highly engaged community of young and not so young women and yes men too, with engagement rates that rival the top travel bloggers in the world. On Facebook, the average engagement rate for travel related pages is 2.5%. The A Not So Young Woman Abroad Facebook community achieves over 14% engagement and has an average weekly reach of over 65,000 people. It still blows my mind when one of my photos on Instagram gets hundreds of likes.
So next time you are thinking of how to get your brand message out, why not give a Gen X Travel Influencer a try!
On Generation X taking up travel after career and children
– Theresa Ladner
Born in 1967, I’m on the older spectrum of Gen X’ers. I turn 50 this year and that is a time when one looks back and decides if they made a lot of good decisions or not. I think one of the best decisions I’ve made is to start travelling.
Before I got married in 1999, I had not been out in the world much. We went to Greece on our honeymoon and I got bitten by the travel bug. I didn’t start blogging seriously about our travels until 2016 but I’d always kept a journal and that really helped for the older posts. When our daughter was young, travel was a little more difficult for us but as she’ll be out of the nest in a couple of years, we’ll be able to travel more. And even more, after my husband retires.
The majority of us don’t want to drop everything and become digital nomads, we want to travel and return to our home base. We want to be out in the world and see and do all things new and interesting but always have that home-tether.
Gen X’ers are an important demographic; some call us the “Forgotten Generation”. We are at least 60 million strong, the third largest after boomers and millennials but we have the most spending power according to the Shullman Pulse study. We are rainy-day savers, family providers, and like to play it safe. But we also like the finer things in life, like travel. A lot of us will be retiring in the next decade and marketing to us is a smart choice as travel may be the number one choice for Gen X retirees.
The experience that Generation X brings to travel blogging
– Kaila Yu
I started travelling very early as my parents loved to travel and they instilled travelling values in me early on. My earliest memories are of flying to Taipei and sampling all the delicious foods of the region. I was definitely a member of GenX, the MTV Generation. My parents were super strict and I became extremely rebellious. Being of Asian ethnicity, my parents wanted me to pursue a professional career, preferably in the field of medicine or law. I went completely in the opposite direction and posed for Playboy and then started my own rock band.
My career choices led me to epic amounts of travel. As a pinup car show model, I travelled the world and put myself in many dangerous situations. For example, once a company inquired about me hosting their car show event in Amsterdam. I had never heard of the company before and they had no references but I jumped at the chance to get paid to go to Europe! I didn’t even bother asking for a plus one, which I later found out is a pretty customary request and flew out by myself to Amsterdam. Luckily everything was legit and on the up and up, but if I wasn’t so lucky I could’ve been sold to slavery or become a drug mule or something!
Later on, while in the rock band, I had the opportunity to tour around the world. All of these youthful life experiences led me to want to pursue my career as a travel writer today. My audience contains both Generation X’ers and Millennials alike. This is an audience that is professional, affluent and well travelled. Generation X’ers have a high disposable income so brands should definitely be taking us seriously!