Millennials are different than older generations which can be seen in their expectations from brands. They would much rather spend their money on an experience that can be shared on social media than material goods. This trend has created what many refer to as the experience economy. Travel is the perfect example of an industry that has benefitted from Millennials desire to collect memorable moments as a form of social currency. According to our report on travel and lodging, travel is so important to them that it ranks higher than escaping from their student loans, buying a “big ticket” item, improving relationships with family and friends or even starting a family of their own. The travel industry has had to change to keep up with the Millennials need not only for more travel but the kind of travel they crave.
Michael Karam, the CEO and founder of müvTravel, an online travel planning platform, who recently spoke with Jeff Fromm for his Forbes column about travel trends had some insights for those in the travel industry trying to appeal to Millennials:
- “Dump the Eiffel Tower Visit”– Millennials want to live like a local on their vacation. They want to eat what the locals eat, go where the locals go and do with the locals do. They are also very aware, as are the local authorities, of preserving the environment and heritage sites. Karam believes that rather than checking out the traditional historical sites that are overpopulated and often being destroyed by the waves of tourists, destinations need to offer more experiential offerings like “music festivals, cultural and culinary events, multi-day dance parties and artistic happenings.”
- Personalization- Millennials want a unique experience, the cookie cutter tour or cruise isn’t going to cut it anymore. While some are into roughing it others prefer staying in expensive hotels, some want to eat on the street while others want to have a culinary experience in a 5 star restaurant. According to Karam, technology will only continue to help travelers have a personalized experience, “It will not only allow travelers to personalize and optimize their trip itinerary and costs, it will also help service providers deliver more personalized experiences based on user temperament, tastes and even mood of the moment.”
- Support Spontaneous, Low Cost Travel: While older generations may have their vacations planned out a year in advance, Millennials see it as an adventure that can happen anytime from over a weekend to over a few weeks. Low cost airlines are what Millennials usually gravitate to and AirBnB’s give them the chance to live and mingle with the locals. Both offer the ability to up and go at anytime for a relatively low cost. According to Karam, major airlines are starting to understand the need for low cost options but they are typically anchored to their continent. Karam believes the market can still take on new players, and would benefit from more low cost transatlantic or transpacific routes.
Millennials want the flexibility to up-and-go to a unique destination and have a personalized experience without paying a lot. It sounds like a challenge to achieve but travel industry players, like müvTravel, are making great strides to appease them. If they continue to support the experience economy and encourage AI while giving alternative experiences to protect the heritage sites, the travel industry will continue to profit off the travel hungry Millennials.