Millennials: the future of the travel industry

June 12, 2017

Andey Speight

If you’re not marketing to the millennial crowd, now’s the time. With thousands among thousands of exotic destinations and enticing outings filling the social feeds of millennials, it’s hardly surprising this generation has made travel a top priority.

Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials are history’s largest ever consumer generation to date. They have been shaping the future of the travel industry for a long time, with 79 million just in the US alone. But what makes them so important for your travel business?

A recent study from Expedia Inc. showed that millennials are poised to spend $200 million annually, and upwards of $10 million in their lifetime. In fact, the entire millennial market is set to spend $1.4 trillion by 2020, presenting a huge opportunity for the travel industry.

The millennial generation is also set to spend more on travel services incrementally this year than any other age group online. Consequently, travel brands now find themselves in the perfect position to generate millions of travel bookings each year.

In today’s highly connected world, the millennial traveller has grown up surrounded by the Internet, high-tech gadgets, social media, and the ever-present feeling of being plugged in 24/7, making them a prime target for marketing activity.

Forget about the hard sell, millennials want content with an inherent purpose. Whether that’s a great story, viral video, competition, or anything else, your content should serve one purpose, to entertain and inform.

Capturing a specific mood is extremely effective when marketing to the younger generation. Brands like Airbnb have built their success on emphasising adventure, exploration, and self-discovery, enabling them to capture the imagination of the millennial traveller like no other.

Remember, success can only be achieved when marketing efforts to reach the millennial market are effectively carried out. Here are a few ways you can successfully engage millennials this year.

Enhance your visibility on social media

Whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay. Millennials are using social networks to share information, join conversations and engage with brands 24/7. You need a strong online presence to make your business known. Social media allows you to communicate with potential customers, particularly younger customers, in a tone unlike any other channel, giving your brand the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with millennial travellers. So, stay in the loop, or risk losing the millennial market for good.

Expand into the cruise market

Cruise lines and travel agents have spent years trying to market cruise vacations to millennials, with no luck. But times have changed, a recent report commissioned by The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), discovered that millennials are now more likely to enjoy a cruise holiday than older generations. The industry has seen a huge rise in millennial cruisers, with almost a third of millennials having cruised in the last 5 years. Even more surprisingly, more millennials now say they “strongly like” cruising more than Boomers or Gen Xers.

Deliver an unforgettable mobile experience

Mobile is on the rise, particularly among millennials. Travel related search queries on mobile have grown more than 43%, with over half of all travel bookings now being made via a smartphone device. Oliver Yeates, chief executive at Clicky Media, says that millennials use smartphones as their “number one internet device", with two out of three young people tending to use their mobiles to book holidays. Simply put, you need to invest in mobile technology if you want to capture the millennial traveller.

Offer reward points

Reward programs are great for inspiring loyalty in your travel customers, but what about the millennial traveller? Skift, recently found that younger generations are not interested in saving up for rewards or top tier status, instead, they’re more focused on simply getting from A to B. In response, brands such as Hilton and American Airlines, are now exploring small-scale rewards programs. Hilton’s new Honors loyalty program, for example, allows travellers to pay for rooms with points, as opposed to offering full-scale rewards. The goal is to provide young travellers with reward programs they can find value in.

Talk to the experts

To effectively reach the millennial market, you need travel technology that can keep pace with their ever-changing needs. With our advanced technology platform, you can provide them with a streamlined booking experience that will keep them coming back today, tomorrow and for years to come.