Complete Story


How Social Media & Next-Gen Professionals are Impacting the Future of Tourism

OTLA Project Highlights

OTLA 2019 Presentations

From left to right: Abby Miller, Lake Erie Shores & Islands; Jessica Fosco, Cedar Point; Haley Cooper, Logan County Chamber; Jandi Adams, Clary Gardens

The Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy presented final projects at the Ohio History Connection in Columbus last week. This popular leadership program is offered by the Ohio Travel Association (OTA) annually. Class members this year separated into groups and researched specific trends likely to impact the travel industry and the way we do business. Groups addressed topics such as generational ethics, social media, economic conditions, and more. Today, we are highlighting Jessica Fosco, Abby Miller, Jandi Adams, and Haley Cooper and their project on ‘How Social media & Next-Gen Professionals are Impacting the Future of Tourism.'


Jessica, Abby, Jandi, and Haley presented facts showing the increase of millennials and generations Z’s in the workforce. Millennials are now the largest cohort with gen Z right behind them. Based on their research, the group found these generations are willing to both join and stay with organizations and associations that provide a variety of training, workshops, and mentoring that they find valuable to their career development. These changing demographics will also change how we manage and structure our workforce, as well as our travel behavior. 

Supporting Trends

With a change in the workforce composition comes changes in management trends. Expect changes in the way work performance evaluations are done. Rather than completing a performance evaluation once a year, trends are showing formal and semi-formals reviews at least twice a year. In addition, next-gen professionals seek to create an ethical economy based on personal values, job and skill training, virtual volunteering, customization in their travel experiences, and a blend of leisure and business trips (‘bleisure’).


Jessica, Abby, Jandi, and Haley evaluated how next-gens professionals impact our jobs, business, travel patterns, how we travel, learning techniques, how it will affect competitors, and what industry sectors will be the most impacted.

How could this impact our jobs?
Training needs to be a priority, and managers need to implement structures into the workplace that build worker performance and encourage individualized expectations.

How could this impact our business and the way business is conducted?
Businesses should be focused on their employees’ well being while helping them reach physical, community, social, purpose and finance goals. Organizations should also be supportive of flexible work hours and arrangements, including work-from-home options.

How could the next gen professionals impact how we learn, such as training and development?
Businesses that prioritize training and new learning experiences see improvements in employee engagement and attraction to work programs.

How could this impact how or why we travel?
Next-gen focused travel is centered around volunteering trips and nature (self-healing) trips. Combining work and leisure trips (‘bleisure’) is also becoming a trend in next-gen vacations.

What new competitors might emerge and what might disappear?
New competitors for our travel dollars that could arise include local forests, caverns, lakes, national parks, along with local farm communities and volunteer programs. With eco-friendly options becoming a priority to next-gens, these will rise to the top.

What industry sectors are most likely to be impacted and why?
Travelers are looking for alternative accommodations in both local and foreign destinations. Local home rentals are an increasingly popular choice. Travelers are looking for specific amenities such as kitchens, shared spaces, and laundry areas which promote longer stays.

What Can Be Done to Help?

Since next-gens want new experiences and training, the industry can get ahead of the curve and serve these needs with programs that match these priorities. Also providing experiential travel that includes new destinations, personalized trips, and local activities will appeal to next-gen travelers. To mitigate potential damage, the industry should take into account the changing profile of travelers and offer customizable options in terms of amenities to best cater to consumers. The more experiences, the better.

How Can OTA Help?

Since technology holds the keys to progression in the industry, OTA can help by monitoring new trends in technology (i.e. the rise of new applications, software, education, etc.) and schedule educational workshops and seminars. The way workshops are provided is also changing, so offering classes in-person and digitally is also significant.  

The OTA Board of Directors assigned the Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy groups these group research topics with the goal of being able to learn and build upon some of these findings in shaping OTA's future work. Special thanks to all OTLA class members, speakers and experts who have assisted in shaping these discussions.

To learn more about the Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy, click the button below!

Learn More!

Printer-Friendly Version