The most common thing Contiki president Melissa da Silva says she hears from travel agents is, “We don’t see the Millennial demographic. They don’t walk into our doors, they don’t call us.”
Millennials, those born between the early 1980s and 2000s, are definitely traveling, though, with 71% valuing travel experiences as the most important thing in their lives, according to new research from Contiki. But their trips are targeted around culture, food and sustainable tourism, rather than a destination.
Contiki has been serving this niche market since it began business in 1962, giving it years of experience working with the younger demographic. Today, that demographic is Millennials, a generation making up 42% to 50% of global purchasing power.
About 70% of Contiki travelers are young professionals, “someone who works 80 hours a week, really needs to let off some steam, they don’t want to think about or plan anything, they just want to go relax and have fun,” da Silva said in an interview with TMR. In fact, Millennials like one-on-one validation, especially with products that are intangible, creating an opportunity for travel agents to step in.
The number-one piece of advice she offered agents is to start by tapping into your existing database, focusing on honeymooners or people who recently graduated college.
Over the years, Contiki has honed in on what its travelers are looking for and has applied that knowledge to social media practices. Being authentic, said CEO Casper Urhammer, gets Millennials – who typically spend two to three hours on their phones – interested and engaged, when flooded with other marketing campaigns.
Contiki utilizes user-generated content, pulling up to 8,000 pictures a week from its travelers through a unique hashtag on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
“That’s not us telling a story – that’s our travelers telling a story,” said da Silva.
And of course Contiki is always there to help travel partners develop a unique marketing plan incorporating its user-generated content. Agents can reach out to their regional sales executive to help craft content, from copy writing to imagery to videos.
“We work together to come up with a plan” da Silva said. “We’ll sit with you to understand what your wants and needs are and then craft a program that’s specific to you.”
Additionally, agents can take Contiki’s new training program, ContikiU. By the end of June, the next five modules will go live, offering up advice and tips for reaching Millennials. Travel agents who complete all 12 modules will be deemed Contiki Champions, which gives them access to special fams, incentives and early notifications.
More out-of-the-box ideas include special events, affiliate partnerships and on-campus programs at universities. “Everyone wants to deal with Millennials and we’re quite good at it,” Urhammer said. “We learned early on to create an emotional connection. Have that connection and they will be inspired to come in and have a chat.”