Traveling with the Millennial Generation: Get it Right Before You Get Left!

Aug 05, 14 Traveling with the Millennial Generation: Get it Right Before You Get Left!

By Dalton Lind, Junior Executive at The San Jose Group

After a seemingly eternal winter, people have been making sure to get the most out of the summer this year. The warm weather makes it a peak season for tourism and traveling to new vacation destinations. While this has always rang true for the summer months, the way we travel has changed significantly over the years. Consider technological advancements, shifting demographics and evolving notions of ideal travel. As the times progress, the Millennial generation is becoming an increasingly prominent market for the travel industry. So, why does this matter?

The travel industry is the top grossing service export in the United States, and more people are traveling now than before. In fact, the U.S. Department of State reports over 100 million more U.S. passports are in circulation today than the 7.2 million in 1989. In total, Americans took over 2.1 billion trips over 50 miles last year. The government estimate that a large portion of those trips are taken by people under age 35, and many businesses would be wise to take note of this age group.

In an article about Millennial travel trends, the Boston Consulting Group stated, “Although members of the Millennial generation are not yet the core customers of airlines, hotels, and travel companies, they will be in five to ten years, when they enter their peak earning, spending, and traveling years.” This makes adapting to the world’s ever-changing new consumers of travel and tourism increasingly crucial for marketers and advertisers.

When considering the consumer behavior of young generations, modern technology cannot be overlooked. The last thing Millennials will resort to is a physical road map. Smartphones can serve as a GPS, music player, computer, camera and, obviously, as a phone. Similarly, tablets can perform those same functions and more. These devices eliminate the need to purchase a plethora of products that were once associated with travel, such as CD players and disposable cameras. Millennials do not call an airline to set up a flight itinerary or call to book a hotel; they go on the website. As a result, travel companies are forced to either make themselves available virtually or inevitably fade in out of the industry. However, being listed somewhere online will not guarantee sales to Millennials, because they are more likely than non-Millennials to perform online research about their travel destinations. Millennials with a low income still manage travel; it just might take them longer to find the most price-efficient route. Furthermore, they can decide whether to travel to a certain place based on pictures and reviews posted online. An absence of pictures or reviews could lose the Millennial interest.

Travel and tourism organizations should also be aware of the destinations Millennials prefer to visit. New generations are more accepting and open to ethnic diversity, making international travel more attractive to them than it was to older generations. Globally, international travel hit an all-time high in 2012 with over one billion people traveling across their country’s borders, according to the U.S. Dept. of State. The United Nations estimates that over 20% of those one billion international travelers were young people. Millennials prefer to visit activity-abundant urban locations with friends over typical relaxing getaway resort locations. Advertisers already use this knowledge and promote specific events in order to incite tourism and travel to their location.

Travel and tourism has been on a constant incline for many years, and it appears it will only continue to grow as an industry. The U.S. Travel Association predicts that over the next couple years travel expenditures within the U.S., international visitors to the U.S. and total domestic trips will increase. In regards to travel, getting ahead of the trends may be more important than ever. Synchronization with modern technology and an understanding of new-age preferences are two key variables to implement when marketing to Millennials.

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