For years, the travel industry has buttered their bread by catering to the Baby Boomers. It makes sense that people who are retired and have plenty of free time would travel more than average. But over time, Gen Y has grown up and now represents a massive opportunity for the travel sector with around 70 million people in the 18-34 age bracket. According to travel and hospitality marketing firm MMGY’s Portrait of American Travelers, Millennials plan to spend incrementally way more on leisure travel over the next 12 months compared to any other age group. The MMGY research also uncovers that 60% of them prefer to spend money on experiences over material items.
The younger generation is very comfortable with the sharing-economy concept. They are more likely to use services like Airbnb and Uber than their older counterparts. Most Millennials could care less about tax or insurance issues related to ride sharing. They just really like the ease of the app and the lower price of Uber compared to a taxi. The same applies to Airbnb as many of their accommodations are cheaper than a hotel. Millennials seek out unique, authentic experiences and often want to venture away from whatever "the establishment" has typically done. What better way to do that than to stay in a real local's house in a great location where you can truly experience the neighborhood rather than only doing super touristy things on your vacation.
It used to be a hotel would roll out the red carpet for the editor of a prestigious travel publication or, really, any serious travel journalist. Of course, these days everyone acts a bit like a travel journalist as they can write and post reviews on TripAdvisor. But to go beyond the average traveler and the typical hotel review, it is worth noting that Millennials are much more likely to write blogs and post videos. Sixty percent of Millennials (vs. 29% of others) are engaged in uploading videos, images and blog entries. This younger generation thrives on sharing their lives across various social media channels, which means your destination, hotel or attraction is more likely to be recommended when things go well and avoided when they do not.
Millennials are 2.5 times more likely to be an early adopter, which we know typically applies to embracing new technology. But that same philosophy can apply to a travel destination or brand. Remember, Millennials are seeking out unique and new experiences. They want to be the first of their friends to experience a destination or hotel that maybe many others have not yet visited. Wanting to be first at something tends to go hand in hand with a faster pace. The younger age bracket does not wait for anyone or anything with 81% of Millennials stating they are less about “friendly” service than “fast” service.
The Millennials might be fast but they do stop and take notice when it comes to supporting causes and charities. If your travel organization does anything charitable or supports worthy causes, then you will want to get the word out to the younger crowd. According to Nielsen and Cone Cause Evolution, 85% of Millennials will switch brands to support a cause compared to only 61% of all Americans on average willing to switch. Eco-friendly tourism efforts would matter to a Millennial.
In order to steal market share with Millennials, your travel brand or destination will need to understand how this younger generation operates. And you better be sure that your site is optimized for mobile because we all know Millennials have little patience for brands that cannot get with the program. If you need even more tips and stats on Millennials, check out this blog from Millennial expert Ryan Jenkins, where I found some of the numbers referenced above.