Once a year, professionals in the youth, student and educational travel industry gather at the World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) to formulate partnerships, strengthen business relationships and discover the latest youth trends both globally and regionally. This year’s event in Beijing revealed the behavior of youth and student travelers today, where they’re coming from, where they’re headed and what industry professionals can do to connect with them and gain their business.

There are 1.7 billion people on Earth today who are 15-30 years old. In an insightful seminar entitled Global Youth Trends, WYSTC speaker John Solomon discussed this important consumer group in both the context of a radically changing global youth population and an emerging China. Solomon predicts that in a not-too-distant future, Chinese youth will be trendsetters and influence brand decisions globally.

Millennials are “the largest, most diverse, educated and influential shoppers on the planet,” according to Gen Buy. The more a brand fits into their lifestyle, the more inclined they are to gain personal identification with that brand. This identity connection in turn means that youth today are extremely brand loyal. Once they find a product or service they like, they continue to come back to it. And for a generation born into the social media era, they are naturally inclined to share their opinions with their friends and family – nearly every minute of every day.