May 3, 2017

My firm conducts ongoing website studies for DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations). Our research provides insights into who is visiting a DMO website and what they value most on a website. While travelers over 53 years old (baby boomers and seniors) remain the largest segment visiting DMO websites, there has been a dramatic increase in millennials engaging with travel.

A lot of marketers are shifting their media to reach this growing segment. But they are not changing their pitch. They are running the same ads/spots for a millennial audience. THAT IS A BIG MISTAKE. The millennials have a very different expectation when it comes to travel. A recent post by Columnist Leah Swartz for MediaPost did a great job of outlining those expectations. Here are five insights from our research and Leah’s recent post.

1- For millennials, travel is a vital experience that helps them understand, grow, and continuously reinvent their sense of self. Baby boomers and seniors consider travel a luxury. Millennials view travel as a vital component to their personal growth and life experience.

2 – Millennials want shareable experiences. No matter what they cost, these experiences share one thing in common: the experience millennials are looking for is not a commodity product. When millennials hit the road, they don’t see themselves as tourists, they consider themselves experience pioneers.

3 – Millennials are not merely embracing digital tools and resources, they’ve come to expect them. They want you to use technology to remove friction, improve service, and enhance the overall travel planning experience.

4 – Research shows that 75% of millennials currently have travel apps on their phones. They are using these apps and online travel agents more than any other generation. They also use the sharing economy to bypass expensive taxis, restaurants, tours and lodging for more accessible, but still legitimate, alternatives.

5 – Millennial travelers are very savvy travel planners. They are happy to forgo the five-star hotel and stay in cheaper two-star lodging to budget for a cooking class and culinary immersion with local tastemakers.

And here’s the main reason you need to focus on the millennial traveler: they are impacting other generations when they travel. Consider this: a baby boomer mom may not be a millennial as defined by her age, but she is just as excited to order room service by emojis as her 23-year-old daughter. To take advantage of the millennial revolution, you must change your advertising and your service. Period.

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