There are a few things we know for sure about millennials; They value experiences over things, they see themselves as citizens of the world and they are putting off major life stages like marriage and children thus giving them more disposable income and time.
These factors show that travel is extremely important and more possible than with previous generations. Obviously, everyone likes (and probably needs) a vacation, but millennials are changing the way travelling is orchestrated.
In 2016 we wrote a report called, “The Millennial Brief on Travel and Lodging.” We found that the pre-packaged, cookie cutter vacation is a thing of the past. Millennials prefer a hands-on, immersive experience that has been carefully curated to fit the identity they are trying to portray, often on social media. Millennials are willing to give up the luxuries of a nicer hotel to stay in an AirBnB or hostel to get an authentic, cultural experience while also having money to spend on excursions of their liking. This doesn’t necessarily have to be an exotic trip across the world, we found that almost half of millennial’s vacations were weekend trips.
These culturally authentic trips, no matter how far away from home, are often time consuming to plan as there is so much information on the internet and it is difficult to tell if it is legit or not. Proving that curated trips are still necessary but need to be redefined for the tech savvy, younger generations. Anyone who has read my book, “Marketing to Millennials,” knows that they desire a frictionless journey™ as consumers, and travel is no different. Millennials want to be able to hop on their device, read reviews, plan and book a unique trip easily and cheaply. Although millennials check an average of 10 sources before making travel purchases, for them a great experience is three times more popular than getting a bargain price.
So how should travel companies give a curated yet seemingly individualized product that will leave the younger generations satisfied? I recently wrote a column for Forbes in which I interviewed Tara Cappel. Tara is a writer for For the Love of Travel, a website that curates vacations specifically targeted to Millennials. We know that Millennials respect the opinion of other consumers rather than promises from companies. According to Tara, the number one way to attract millennials is to offer something so unique that people feel compelled to share it on their social media. If they see it on their friends feed, they will want to do it too. She believes that travel is the apex of experience and experience is the new social currency.
Going to a travel agent and booking a cruise that has every minute planned is easy, but it doesn’t give a sense of uniqueness and individuality that the younger generation and their followers on social media crave. If a large portion of the population would rather spend money on a trip to Vietnam than an expensive bag as a representation of their social status, the travel industry will benefit from identifying the needs of these digital natives.
Brands that fan the “millennial adventure flame” need to understand the future looks very different.