Skip to main content

News & Insights

Business leaders networking at the Peach 20/20 Conference  

14 Jan 2022

Why both digital and face-to-face experiences are important for teenagers

New research reveals attitudes to technology and hospitality among the next generation – and life is not all about the digital world

Today’s teenagers may be digital natives, but they still prefer in-person interaction over virtual socialising. That’s the key finding of new research from leading hospitality tech firm Zonal, conducted by futures research company Trajectory, reveals that

The findings show that while 69% of all teenagers surveyed believe tech has a positive impact on society, over half (55%) prefer to spend time with friends face-to-face as opposed to online. As part of this research, Zonal and Trajectory conducted a survey of hundreds of teens and held a number of focus groups with groups of teens aged 13 to 15, as well as 16 and 17.

Reflecting what was found in the survey, one 15-year-old said: “It’s better to be in person. I feel like my memories are better when it’s in person”, while a 17-year-old added, “Facetime is the next best thing, but it doesn’t beat in-person.”

Traditional preferences still play a large role when it comes to choosing where to go, as well. When asked about how they choose a café or restaurant to go to, the top teen answer was ‘the quality of food and drink’ (63%) followed by ‘how much it costs’ (52%).

Nevertheless, the research highlights the significant role technology is likely to have when it comes to attracting future guests and delivering the experience they desire. More than half of teens (55%) think businesses should use data in order to only show the best products, services and offers for them and the majority think digital payments are the way forward, with 57% believing they won’t use cash to pay in shops or restaurants when they are an adult. Technology will also play a significant role in attracting future guests, with 42% of teenagers who use social media hourly, visiting a venue because they saw it on their feed.

For the report, Zonal also canvassed the opinions of young people who work in hospitality, hosting a discussion at the Institute of Hospitality’s Passion for Hospitality event in November for 18 to 25-year-olds. This highlighted the potential for technology’s increasing role behind the scenes, for example one young hospitality worker suggested utilising voice-activated technology, such as the shopping list feature on Google Home or Alexa: “When you’re doing stock ordering, there is always one item you forget. If during the shift, you throw away your last bottle of vodka, you could add that to your Alexa shopping list immediately as opposed to waiting until the end of your shift. That would be useful.”

Alison Vasey, Group Product Director, Zonal said: “Over the course of the pandemic, the hospitality sector has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability, responding to new customer and societal demands. This report highlights that today’s teenagers will increasingly expect technology excellence as an integral part of their hospitality experience.

“At Zonal, we have developed a range of business solutions that support the operator and customer journey. We continue to innovate and create solutions that will benefit the sector for years to come and ensure that any technology enables customers to enjoy face-to-face social interaction and experiences that every generation craves.”

The findings in the report are all based on exclusive surveys and interviews with teenagers. In September 2021, on behalf of Zonal, researchers and analysts Trajectory conducted a survey of 500 teenagers. This was split between 252 teenagers aged between 13 and 15, and 248 aged 16 and 17. On top of the quantitative research, qualitative research in the form of two focus groups was conducted. These took place virtually via video call in October 2021, with one group of teenagers aged between 13 and 15 and the other consisting of 16 and 17-year-olds. They were all asked about their perceptions and experiences of technology, hospitality, and how they use and consider their leisure time and different types of venue. Finally, Zonal also canvassed opinions of young hospitality workers aged between 18 – 25 years old at an Institute of Hospitality event in November.




Zonal is a Peach 20/20 partner

View all News & Insights