Though the travel and hospitality industry has remained focused on the older cohort of travellers. This demographic group, comprising people with stable vocations and lives and those for whom retirement is on the horizon, have remained the travel industry’s chief targets for the longest time. However, the industry has observed an upheaval of sorts as millennials are rapidly grabbing a sizeable chunk of the sales army’s attention in this domain. That is not to say that the older generations are not relevant anymore; they remain an important area of concentration for companies whose prosperity depends on people’s desire to travel. It is just that according to marketers in the travel and hospitality industries, millennials’ ravenous hankering for ‘wanderlust’ and the enlightenment that is acquired by the means of travel is starting to measure up to the folks who generally take to travelling after retirement.
According to a Boston Consulting Group report, though millennials travel much less for business, compared to non-millennial business travellers, they spend nearly as much as the latter on total business flights every year. In fact, the number has steadily grown over the years and is expected to reach 50 per cent of total spending on business flights by 2020. Travel and tourism companies that had the foresight have long already put plans in action to earn not just the business but also the loyalty of millennials. Besides that, several relevant companies are striving to capitalize on the influence millennials tend to have — not just on their families and friends but also on complete strangers, thanks to social media.
In fact, social media has a larger role to play in the context of millennials and their wanderlust. It plays the role of a vital influence in this generation’s novel inclination to travel especially when they are just foraying into adulthood. Mike Flannery, president of a renowned U.S.-based vacation home rental agency ACME House Company, told Forbes that two primary factors have led to the surge in the trend of travelling young adults: a market replete with companies that offer tempting vacation packages to their employees and a drop in the societal pressure to start families. Flannery says these two factors have allowed millennials to travel without having to constantly worry about their personal or professional lives. There are several other factors that make this generation of young travellers so important to the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries. Several surveys have shown a shift in priorities between millennials and non-millennials a.k.a. the baby boomer generation. The former would rather travel than spend their hard-earned money on buyinga home or other financial obligation such as paying off their loans. Furthermore, travelling is no more limited to fixed periods in the year; people don’t wait for the usual summer or winter breaks any more, which has led to traveling transitioning into a year-round market.
For the modern-day traveller, the idea behind the entire process isn’t just seeing new places. They want an experience every time they travel. A large majority of millennial travellers look for distinctive opportunities while travelling and seek to connect to their destination like a local instead of merely spending time there as a tourist. This generation wants to become familiar with their destination in ways that the older generation doesn’t often consider; they want to visit local restaurants, bars, and experience the city’s nightlife too. And they don’t always travel with friends or family. Many prefer to travel solo and mingle with residents of their destination city. Finding local places, tucked away in the city’s corner is favoured over learning about its history. Another factor that makes millennials’ travelling preferences stand out in comparison to that of non-millennials is the fact they favour adventures over souvenirs and don’t mind shelling out extra bucks for it.
Research also sheds new light on what your average travelling millennial wants and social media is a pertinent factor in the mix, yet again. Since the younger generation constantly seeks to try out different opportunities among their peers too, social media now also serves as the ideal platform to share their love of travel with others. This, consequently, allows them to create a ‘social currency’ and establish a particular type of status among their peers and even strangers on the internet.
Considering the arrival of the millennial traveller, it isn’t surprising to see marketers in the trade endeavour to cash in on this generation’s burgeoning interest in traveling across the world. And the eager strategies and battle plans they are using to connect with this particular set of audience are quite interesting. With that being said, it will be interesting to see if the millennial generation will continue to be a key area of focus for the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries over the years or if, much like a lot of other things with this demographic group, globetrotting too will soon claim the title of ‘another passing trend’.