How Are Millennials Changing Travel?

Known to be avid travelers, millennials have been targeted by travel brands looking to expand their reach. On average, millennials are spending more on travel than older age groups, and one in three are willing to spend more than $5,000 per year on seeing the world.

Common assumptions and stereotypes about the largest living generation in the US have led some hotels and travel brands to believe that millennial travelers are just looking for places to get a perfect Instagram photo. While many millennial travelers are indeed looking for photo-worthy locations, industry experts are in agreement that the biggest focus is on unique experiences.

Some travel brands have responded to this by creating trendy, boutique hotels that cater to wealthier travelers. By offering unconventional amenities and striving to create a more communal, hostel-like atmosphere, many hotels are adapting to the times.  While this kind of hotel certainly has its appeal, the millennial traveler’s hunger for memorable experiences goes beyond experiences that are curated by hospitality brands.

Last-Minute Trips and Weekend Getaways

The demand for memorable travel experiences certainly goes beyond just millennials, but this generation has been at the forefront of the shift towards the experience economy. They also tend to be more spontaneous in their efforts to satisfy their wanderlust, with 49% of millennials saying they have taken a last-minute trip in the past year.  

Related: What the Experience Economy Means for Hotels

While social media and other online influences can play a significant factor in the decision-making process for spur-of-the-moment trips, this kind of travel is often done out of necessity. Depending on the traveler’s job schedule, they may not realize they are able to take a trip until the last minute. This is part of the reason why members of this generation take more weekend trips than any other generation.

Being overtired from work and not wanting to spend hours scrolling through travel sites when they get home has even led some millennials to avoid vacation research by visiting places they have been before. TravelPulse has found that 51% of millennial travelers have revisited a vacation destination just to avoid tedious travel research.

This could be good news for travel agents, as the study also found that nearly 40% would pay for someone else to do this work, leaving them free to enjoy a well-planned vacation free of stress.

Getting Millennials to Book

For millennials with more flexible schedules, spontaneous weekend vacations have become popular — partly because they help people with their work-life balance. This trend puts travel experience providers in a good position, as advertising last-minute deals can help push some potential travelers over the edge and get them to book.

However, advertising to them is far from simple. With many millennials seeing traditional advertising as manipulative and untrustworthy, brands are using public figures to advertise their products and services. Hiring celebrities to appear in commercials is not a new strategy, but having notable and influential people give their personal stamp of approval to a brand can be a more convincing way to appeal to a skeptical generation.

While the culture of online influencers and professional celebrities can be nauseating to some, there is a definite value to having people with large online followings endorse a brand. 87% of millennials approve of product placements where the star of the video demonstrates the sponsored item, with influencer campaigns initiated by users with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers are the most effective.

Origin has also found that the vast majority of millennials do not trust traditional advertising, but are more trusting of online reviews. With peer recommendations being essential to getting this age group on board with a particular brand, hotels are wise to be paying careful attention to TripAdvisor and other user-generated review sites.

Hotels that monitor their reviews have the chance to respond to negative feedback from dissatisfied guests. However, responding to a guest’s issue after they have left the property dramatically limits the hotel’s ability to turn around the guest’s experience. This makes it essential for hotels to engage with their guests while they are still guests.

Guest Experience Expectations

Today, hotels have no shortage of options when it comes to engaging with their guests, with many involving the use of mobile devices. Since this is a generation of digital natives, most millennials are willing to engage with brands on their mobile devices.

When brands think mobile engagement, their first thought tends to be social media or text messaging. While these methods of interaction are appealing to many guests, not every user wants to interact with brands on social media.

Fortunately for hotels, there are other ways to connect with a large volume of guests through technology. Helix by MicroMetrics, our guest engagement platform, allows hotels to receive real-time feedback from guests and collect actionable insights right after check-in. This is particularly useful for hotels that receive negative reviews from guests who never actually notified hotel staff about issues during their stay.

Helix by MicroMetrics helps hotels enact service recovery strategies in real time, preventing negative reviews and developing guest loyalty.

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