NEW RESEARCH: The Millennial Brief on Travel and Lodging

Posted by: Angie Read

We are excited to launch our latest industry trends report: The Millennial Brief on Travel and Lodging. Read below for a brief review of our findings or download the full report HERE!

Millennials are a generation of travelers unlike any we’ve seen before. Instead of viewing trips as simply getaways from reality or opportunities to spend time with family, millennials consider them to be vital experiences that help them understand, grow and continuously reinvent who they are and where they stand in the world.

This is fueled by the growth of value in badge experiences compared to badge products. For previous generations, the mark of success was the ability to purchase an expensive badge product like a Cadillac or a Rolex. Today, young adults are not as interested in the material goods money can buy, but rather the experiential opportunities that have become more accessible – travel being the most coveted experience.

Our research determined five definitive characteristics that establish who millennial travelers are today. If recognized and utilized properly, these characteristics will serve as a foundation for marketers to better understand millennial travelers’ motivations and consumer journeys, equating to sustainable success in the category.

Millennials are: 

1. Experience Pioneers

Millennials are less interested in packaged travel reminiscent of yesteryear’s family vacation to the beach and instead desire to engage in immersive, interactive and hands-on opportunities. They aspire to expand their horizons, explore uncharted territory, discover new things and advance their personal identity through experiential adventures. This might explain why millennials disproportionately favor the sharing economy, suggesting that they value an authentic experience over one that is manufactured and “touristy.”

Knowing this, travel brands must recognize that millennials are highly influenced by brands that are able to help them create a unique and meaningful experience.

2. Digital Functionalists

Millennials have always had the luxury of accessing the infinitely informative digital universe to support their travel customer journey when it comes to travel planning, whereas older generations remember the times of calling hotels to make reservations or working with a travel agent face-to-face for planning excursions. As a result, millennials are not merely embracing digital tools and resources, they’ve come to expect brands to leverage technology that removes friction, adds efficiency and simplicity and enhances their overall planning experience.

Travel brands should find a way to create a truly connected relationship with millennial guests through the integration of digital devices and technology, as it is highly important to millennials and viewed as vital to their overall satisfaction level.

3. Travel Day Traders

Millennial travelers are the savviest group of travel planners we’ve seen. They may forgo the five-star hotel for the cheaper two-star in order to budget for a cooking class and culinary immersion with local tastemakers. We refer to millennials who do this as Day Traders™. They don’t choose brands solely on recognition (a guiding principle for previous generations), but instead research thoroughly and compromise based on the brands/products/services/experiences in question to get the most out of the overall experience and their discretionary budgets.

Travel brands should strive to be the catalyst that amplifies the rest of the millennial travel experience so they can avoid being on the losing end of the day trading principle.

4. Spontaneous Planners

While the idea of spontaneity might seem to conflict with planning a trip, consider the notion that millennials, more so than older generations, are constantly battling the duality of the desire to control circumstances while allowing room for impromptu decisions. This is paired with the unfortunate fact that millennials struggle with taking extended time away from the office. As a result, millennials are more spontaneous in when and how they plan their trips. We’ve seen that millennials have embraced a philosophy of “planned spontaneity” where they are balancing the routine of workplace expectations while still allowing themselves to take advantage of travel opportunities as they arise at a moment’s notice.

Travel brands need to understand this and leverage off-season offerings and deals to catch the attention of millennials seeking opportunities that are fully inclusive but can be booked quickly, easily and spontaneously.

5. Social Validators

Travel experiences are arguably some of the most inherently share-worthy moments for millennials, so it comes as no surprise that millennials are the most active travelers online with 97 percent of millennials using social media while traveling and 75 percent posting to social networks at least once per day. While fear of missing out (FOMO) has been a trend in mainstream media for sometime, fear of living offline (FOLO) is a new evolution that even further exemplifies the millennial generation’s dependency on peer affirmation and validation. In fact, most millennials claim to have a worse time in any given situation when they don’t have the capability to connect with their social networks – even when on a vacation that might otherwise offer them a reprieve from everyday stressors.

Travel brands must consider the shareability of their guest experience and look for opportunities to provide millennials with unique, share-worthy moments that allow them to amplify and acquire additional social currency.

In summary, millennials are not driven by the same travel needs as previous generations. They want to gain experience, go on adventures and learn while traveling. They are extremely savvy with their budgets and planning so they don’t have to lose out on those experiences, and coupled with oft-intense pressure in the workplace, their vacations vary from the traditional.

Whatever their trip of choice, millennials will remain connected to the brands that prove most useful and influential in their efforts to obtain the best possible travel experience.

To find out even more about millennial travelers and how your brand can resonate with them, download our latest trends report: The Millennial Brief on Travel & Lodging.

About Angie Read

Angie Read is Vice President of Growth Insight at Barkley. She has 20+ years of consumer marketing and public relations experience for brands including Sprint, Hallmark, Huhtamaki, Dearfoams, Foot Petals and baggalini, as well as...See Angie's full bio.

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