Millennials Change the Travel Market, As Other Generations Follow Their Lead

by Cheryl Rosen

As the upper end of the Millennial generation turns 35, its much-studied members are looking more and more like their parents—but that’s often because their parents are copying them, rather than vice versa, says Millennial expert Jason Dorsey.  

“Travel trends, just like technology trends, are starting with Millennials and rippling up to other generations,” Dorsey told TMR in an interview this week. “We heard initially, ‘Oh, they’ll end up being more like us’—but we’re finding other generations are starting to be like Millennials instead. Yes, you have to fundamentally shift the way you do business to meet the needs of Millennials. But if you do it right, you’ll get everyone else as well.” 

Millennials’ eagerness to post pictures of themselves on social media has spurred booms in experiential travel and adventure travel, pulling older generations along to try new things and new places.  

 “Millennials are in the right place at the right time for the travel industry to embrace them, not as young adults but as adults,” Dorsey said. “It appears that Millennials will outspend Boomers in 2017—that’s a massive shift, and their spending will only continue to increase. And there are 80 million of them.” 

Millennials as employees
On the employment side, research suggests that the travel industry is missing an opportunity to draw in these young workers. Many Millennials want to be party of something big, something useful—but the travel industry often forgets to play that card to attract them.  

“Play up the difference they can make in the communities to which people travel, the changes in the way people talk to each other, the global opportunities travel creates,” Dorsey suggests.  

But contrary to what many think, just having young people on staff will not bring in young customers. “Hiring Millennials to bring in Millennials in itself is not the instant solution people think it is,” Dorsey said. “Just because you are young doesn’t mean you can sell. The best solution is to educate people of all ages on how to sell to Millennials, to market to and communicate with Millennials in the way they want to be communicated with.” 

Tips for reaching Millennials
So what do they want? You’ve heard it all before—and it’s true: 

  • Millennials don’t want to feel like a number. They struggle to figure out how to be unique. If you are selling a packaged trip or a cruise or a hotel room, add something one-of-a-kind for them to experience and post on social media.  
  • Millennials want you to talk their talk. Millennials—and even more so, the generation that will follow them—communicate differently. They are visual, so use pictures instead of words. They like text messages, so don’t call them. 
  • Millennials complain in print. When something goes wrong, don’t expect them to call the front desk or a 24-hour Customer Service hotline. Man the Twitter account and respond quickly before their complaint goes viral. 
  • Millennials love real experiences. Where once discerning travelers wanted five-star treatment 24 hours a day, Millennials want to keep it real. Suggest a local restaurant where real people eat or a market where they shop. 

And don’t forget, Millennials are teaching their parents. Try those same tactics with all your customers, of all ages, and see how that works out. 

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