How Millennial Travelers are Changing Travel
The travel and hospitality industry continues to evolve, consolidate, and change on a daily basis. The same can be said of travel demographics, especially during COVID-19. According to TravelPulse, Millennials were shown to be 13 percent more likely than Gen-Xers and 80 percent more likely than Baby Boomers to feel comfortable traveling by the spring of this year.
What makes this generation unique is that they’ve grown up during the age of the internet explosion, part a which plays a major role in how they digest information. Social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment and communication are innovations millennials adapted to as they came of age. So why should your VRMC focus on Millennials?
This question really has two answers:
- Millennials have different travel preferences than the generations that preceded them.
- Millennials are entering their prime earning years and are increasingly likely to travel.
Millennial Travel Preferences
Let’s break each of these answers down a bit further, starting with travel preferences. Millennials use mobile, but more importantly they trust mobile. Almost two thirds of millennial travelers feel comfortable booking an entire trip on a smartphone.
In addition to mobile friendly users, millennials also prefer a more personalized experience, and it’s not just a preference — it’s an expectation.
Part of creating a whole customer view is understanding the social aspects of these travelers. As I mentioned earlier, millennials grew up alongside social media platforms, and as such, many use the platforms to a great degree.
Millennials Increasing Earnings/Likelihood to Travel
“To fully capitalize on this generation’s $200 billion spending power, companies need to adapt the information to their new buying trends.” When millennials travel, they want an experience. With increasing wages, they also have more money to spend on travel. 55% of millennials want to increase their volume of trips in the coming years. Almost 75% of millennials surveyed said they’d prefer to stop buying physical products to increase their travel spending, again pointing to the trend of experiences over physical goods.
3 Things You Can Incorporate Into Your VRMC For Millennials
There are a number of things you can do to connect with more millennials, but here are four concrete items you can try to incorporate into your VRMC this year in order to drive more engagement with this growing younger generation.
- Optimize Your Social Media Presence – It’s important to be where your travelers are, and that’s becoming especially true on social media. Your MySpace page from the Y2K ages probably isn’t helping your brand anymore, but that doesn’t mean you need to create a profile for your business on every channel possible either. To start, I’d stick with these three social media channels:
- Facebook – Millennial users are spending roughly 2 hours and 38 minutes per day on Facebook. You’d be hard pressed to find a better outlet for sharing guest stories, images, and video in many different formats. Facebook profiles are very comprehensive allowing you to give travelers as much, or as little, information about your property as you’d like.
- Instagram – A picture is worth a thousand words, and by that logic Instagram lets you tell an amazing story about your property. Some new developments for IG users include Instagram stories and reels that you can use to engage your travelers at your property or get them interested in booking with you.
- Pinterest – Depending on the statistics you’re looking at, women account for 70-80% of decision making in travel. Knowing that, it’s important to be visible on a social media platform dominated by females. Look no further than Pinterest, which is roughly made up of 70% females. Pinterest is a great spot to give inspiration to your travelers, and with a little practice and a few boards, you can attract quite a following.
Communicate and Market through their Preferred Channels – As I discussed previously, smartphones are millennials preferred mode of communication. That’s not to say that they’re using these smartphones to call properties — quite the opposite in fact. They’re using various applications to check email multiple times a day and connect via social media. However, to optimize your communication with this generation, here are two main channels you should be implementing into your VRMC operations:
- Webchat – The old way of reaching a property directly was picking up a phone and dialing. Millennials have found that they can get quicker responses by going online to accomplish the same task, and this typically is done through live chat. Live chat was initially used as a support mechanism in the hospitality industry, answering questions someone may have about their stay. Now you can actually have reservation agents help a prospect complete a booking through platforms like TRACK Chat.
- SMS Text Messaging – Because of their reliance on smartphones, millennials are very open to not only receiving email communication through these devices, but text messages as well. And SMS messaging can be used for a variety of reasons, from sending reservation details, stay information, and room codes to in-stay promotions and post-stay surveys. One disclaimer in using text messaging (and it’s a similar concern in social media): Don’t focus on selling. The biggest impact you can have with this channel is using it to improve the guest experience and build customer loyalty.
Create a Cohesive Brand Experience – When companies make a big push towards innovation, one thing that occasionally falls by the wayside is consistency. It’s important to ensure that your brand experience is the same across your website, social media channels, and even a brand app (should you choose to really push the innovation envelope). If a millennial is not seeing similar messaging across all of these channels, or feels that the experience is detached in some way, they are less likely to book their stay with your property. Pushing the envelope is important, but do so with an eye on consistency.
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