Generation Y: Perspectives of quality in youth adventure travel experiences in an Australian backpacker context

Gayle Jennings*, Carl Cater, Young Sook Lee, Claudia Ollenburg, Amanda Ayling, Brooke Lunny

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter examines the importance of quality to Gen-Y youth adventure travellers and backpackers in Australia. Fourteen youth adventure travellers participated in focus groups, another 16 travellers participated in interviews and 8 youth adventure travellers completed travel diaries. The youth adventure travellers were mostly international tourists with a smaller number of domestic tourists also participating in the study. The international youth travellers were primarily from England. A number of tourists came from Germany, Korea, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark and New Zealand. Domestic tourists were from western Australia and Victoria. The nature of 'quality tourism experiences' for the youth adventure travellers and backpackers who participated in this study was associated with 'personal connectivity', 'social connectivity', 'combining experiences', 'experience delivery', 'interconnectivity of the entire adventure travel experience' and 'having fun'. Gen-Y travellers are highly informed, making the most of the great variety of information sources they can access, but are critical and reflexive about the delivery of those experiences. Gen-Y adventure youth adventure travelers and backpackers are connected and they want their tourism to be, although not in a traditional packaged sense, as they have highly individualized needs. They value integrity and honesty in their assessments of quality, are voracious in their appetite for experiences but are also happy to relax when it suits them. In particular, themes of fun and play, on terms which suit them, are strong. Indeed, the nature of 'experiences are inherently personal, existing only in the mind of an individual', and for Gen Y this is especially so. Thus, in order to understand experiences, industry and 'researchers need to interact and connect with the travellers, who are using the term'. Additionally, an insider-perspective based design will serve to achieve personal and multiple meanings associated with quality tourism experiences as provided in the recently termed 'emotional economy' or emotion-based economies of a globalized world and 'markets of one'. Finally, in order to keep up to date with the changing nature and manifold meanings of quality tourism experiences, research agendas need to be longitudinal in design in order to embed monitoring and evaluation. Agendas also need to be responsive to change and flexible in methods for empirical material collection and interpretations to accommodate the changing world milieux in which tourism operates. As Gen-Y travellers move beyond adventure travel and backpacker experiences, they will continue to have significant power to shape notions of quality in tourism destinations and experiences in the coming years.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTourism and Generation Y
EditorsP Benckendorff, G Moscardo, D Pendergast
PublisherCABI Publishing
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781845936013
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2009


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