While the typical traveler used to be a Baby Boomer or even member of Generation X, there’s now a demographic you can’t afford to ignore: Millennials. These youngsters, born between 1980 and 2000, are 23% more interested in travel than other age demographics. And how they travel is eclectic: keep these points in mind so that you can appeal to millennials with your travel destination, cruise line, travel experience, or hotel.
Connect with Millennials via Social Media (in a Meaningful Way)
Tour books aren’t for this generation; they’re turning for in-real-time recommendations online when it comes to travel. In fact, 87% of Millennials use Facebook in their travel research, and more than 50% use Twitter and Pinterest.
While this generation is looking for recommendations from their personal network, they want to connect with your brand via social media too. Just make sure you're not promotional in your efforts; you’ll do better to provide useful information, interactive experiences, and value than pushing your latest resort promotion.
Give Millennials Authentic Experiences
You won’t find many Millennials taking canned tours of a city. Instead, they’re going off-road and behind-the-scenes, and want to travel like a local.
If you’re trying to market to this segment, keep that in mind. It may require expanding your experiences to cater to them, but it will pay off. Rather than a three-course meal in your hotel restaurant, consider offering a chef’s table experience or even cooking class. Take guests to the market where locals buy their food and clothing. Partner with members of the community who are willing to invite guests to their homes for a meal.
Leverage Their Influence
Make friends with Millennials, and they’ll do your marketing for you. SnapChat, Instagram, and Facebook are just a few of the places Millennials communicate via photo and video. And they’re all about sharing visuals of their travels. Even a Millennial with a modest following can introduce your brand to her friends with little effort on her part...and none on yours beyond showing her a great time and being accessible via social media.
So what does that look like? Having your social media icons and URLS front and center on your website, in your marketing collateral, and at your destination. It helps if you’ve got a dedicated social media professional who can respond when a traveler tags your brand and can show appreciation for any mentions you receive. Millennials like engagement on social media, so be prepared to give it to them.
Put Local Food Front and Center
The younger generation are foodies. Just look at any Instagram feed, and you’ll see ample shots of local, organic, and even vegan cuisine. When Millennials travel, 98% of them anyway, they want local food, not what they can get back home (McDonalds and Starbucks, for example).
So rather than trying to adapt to American palates if your destination is overseas, instead, turn the spotlight on what’s around you. Bring local chefs, farmers, artisanal food creators front and center, and make them a part of the experiences you offer to travelers.
Make DIYing Their Way to You Easy
Millennials aren’t booking travel through travel agencies. They’re doing it themselves through websites and apps. Mobile bookings grew 1700% between 2011 and 2015, which is a testament to the power of mobile. Millennials are savvy shoppers, and know how to find the best price on airfare and hotels. They read reviews with careful scrutiny, as they want to ensure the get the most bang for their buck.
If you don’t already have a mobile app or partner with a company who can book travel with you through one, start there. Forego the extra layer of travel advisors so you can work directly with the Millennial traveler. Doing so will make him that much more eager to experience your part of the world.
The Millennial traveler is the one you’ll want to focus on from here on out. They are educated, tech-savvy, and connected. Just the kind of guest you want at your destination.