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Millennials Dig Travel Agents

· millennials,travel agents,millennial travel,Travel and Tourism,travel industry stat

There is much talk about Millennials and how they are influencing the travel market. 

As the largest living generation at the moment, they have received their fair share of focus from the tourism industry and any others that want to buy into their attention.

Are they worth the focus? Let’s take a look.

Millennials work to live, not live to work. They also like to travel frequently. As travelers, Millennials are an adventurous demographic that seek authentic experiences, fueling their love for travel.

Millennials are predicted to have the most buying power within the next five years, but Generation X is still the reigning big spender when it comes to travel. Millennials traveled 35% more in 2017, according to 2017 Portrait of American Travelers survey. This group is growing into more seasoned travelers.

Studies show that Millennials aren't spending money on cars, TVs and watches. They are renting scooters and touring Thailand, catching the best music festivals, or hiking Machu Picchu. This should be music to the travel industry’s ears.

Who are These Millennials?

Millennials remain the largest living generation in the United States and account for one-third of the current working force. Millennials are born between 1982 to 2004. So currently they are 14-35 years old. They are spending on average $1,130 less on travel than their elders even though they travel more often. But with some good authentic offerings from the travel industry that can change.

Fans of Travel

Results showed that Millennials took an average of 2.38 vacations in 2016, whereas Gen Xers (ages 40-51) averaged 1.80 and baby boomers (ages 52-70) averaged 1.65. In other words, the average millennial took 32 percent more vacations than the average Gen Xer, and 44 percent more than the average baby Boomer according to the American Society of Travel Agents, in the “How America Travels” study.

In general, Millennials see vacation as a way of life and a part of life. Gen Xers and baby boomers generally see it as a treat, and in fact, many are embarrassed to take all of their vacation days lest they be looked down upon by their superiors and colleagues.

Millennial Families Are the Primary Drivers of Growth in Travel

Yes, Millennials are now parents. Millennial families, which are married or unmarried couples living together with children aged 17 or under currently in the household, make up 16 percent of all American travelers, and account for around 9.5 million households in the U.S.A.

The new report by Resonance Consultancy points to the increasing importance of Millennials to the family travel market. 44 percent of Millennial travelers take their vacations with the kids in tow, according to the firm’s new Future of U.S. Millennial Travel report.

Twenty-six percent of Millennial family vacations are to international destinations; fewer than 20 percent of couples or singles are traveling internationally. Millennial families intend to spend 38 percent more than Millennial couples on vacation and 88 percent more than Millennial singles

Looking for the Unique Experience

Millennials are curious travelers and seek experiences beyond traditional tours and activities. We see them looking to travel to disconnect rather than to connect. They want to connect with themselves, but also with the people they are traveling with, and the people and culture in the destination they are going to.

A 2014 Eventbrite poll found that 78 percent of Millennials would choose to spend money on a desirable event over a desirable purchase and 55 percent said that they're spending more on experiences than they ever have, CNBC reports.

Traveling and Social Media

And interestingly, Millennials are more likely to look to their peers for inspiration, who are off seeing the world. In fact, the marketing ads that have successfully influenced the generation's travel decisions focus on authenticity and rely on inspirational social media influencers.

Since the majority of Millennials are avid smartphone users, this means that you need to have a website that is both attractive and functional. If your site isn't mobile friendly, you are toast. A majority of Millennials are disappointed with companys’ mobile experience.

Even more interesting is the fact that 25% of this generation abandoned Facebook in 2014. According to the Digital Tourism Think Tank, apps like Youtube,Snapchat and Instagram are the most preferred ones. We are in front of a generation that doesn't only share things, but creates things.

Millennials are Warming up to Cruising

If you thought cruises were mostly for retired seniors, you’re wrong. Millennials are the new face of cruising: 27 percent of Millennials say they take at least one cruise in an average year, compared with 12 percent of Gen Xers and 14 percent of baby boomers. On average, Millennials cruise 2.5 times more often than Gen Xers and baby boomers. Interestingly, Millennial men cruise twice as frequently as Millennial women (0.61 cruises per year on average for Millennial men compared to 0.3 cruises average for Millennial women).

Cruise lines have certainly invested in reaching that market. From techy new ships and updated fleets to unique destination programming and lower-cost Wi-Fi, companies are creating products that get at the heart of what younger travelers expect.

And, it looks like it is working, because satisfaction is high; 90 percent of Millennials who have cruised said they liked cruising, and 61 percent said they “strongly like it.” By comparison, a still-high 86 percent of Gen Xers and 77 percent of baby boomers who have gone cruising say they like it. Those who have cruised are most likely to cite “the crowds” (33 percent) as one of their “least favorite” aspects of cruising.

Meaningful Travel Experiences

The desire for more meaningful, off-the-radar travel experiences is a common thread heard throughout the industry. Work, family, friends, and hobbies keep millennials busy! It’s no wonder the desire to “relax” (64 percent) and “spend quality time with family” (59 percent) were cited as reasons to travel by a far higher percentage of travelers than any other reason. Coming in third was the desire to “see natural sights” (38 percent).

It matters who you go with, even more than where you’re going. One of the primary reasons for people to travel is to spend time with loved ones and to create memories, not the destination itself.

As International Travelers

There has been a shift in recent years from seeing millennials as low-spending backpackers and spring breakers into more serious international travelers.

Why are millennials so keen on exploring? Inspiration, adventure and the fact that they can do it. Recent studies show that Millennials travel more than any other generation. The United Nations estimates that 20 percent of all international travelers are Millennials, comprising approximately 200 million people.

They Want to Stay Connected

Millennials also want to stay connected . . . to the Internet. More than half of Millennials (52 percent) say the availability of free Wi-Fi in a hotel “plays a big role” in their decision whether to stay at that property. But, like many of us, they want to disconnect, at the same time. Don't just say you have free Wi-Fi, talk about the speed of the Wi-Fi and the signal reaches out to the pool.

Millennials Dig Travel Agents

The use of travel agents among Millennials — the young, tech-savvy, DIY generation — is up. They realize the drawbacks of booking their own travel, and are beginning to seek out advisors for their expertise.

It’s clear that Millennials use technology differently, but they realize the limits of the Internet. Instead of sifting through countless Google pages of search results, they’d rather go straight to a travel expert who can best fit their needs.

A healthy 44 percent of Millennial respondents said that using an agent is “worth it,” compared to 33 and 34 percent of Xers and Boomers, respectively, reports Travel Agent Central.

The survey shows that Millennials work with travel agents to improve the quality of their travel experiences, not to only handle the logistics. For example, only 38 percent of millennials have used an agent to book plane tickets (versus 49 percent of Gen Xers and 55 percent of baby boomers). Instead, the survey showed that millennials are more apt than older generations to use agents to organize tours, recommend activities, and to create custom experiences with exclusive perks.

Millennials like DIY until they don’t. They want an adviser to specialize in them, to bottom line it for them and interpret all the research they are doing. We have become information navigators. We also get them access to things they cannot get on their own, whether it is a room at the most authentic hotel, underground tours that is found only by word of mouth, or being invited to a cool local party.

Apparently, it’s working. Of those Millennials who have used an agent within the past 10 years, 81 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied.

Live Like A Local

Millennials are curious, creative and passionate people whose main motive for traveling is to have new experiences, something they like to do with their friends.

When surveying Millennials in the U.S., U.K., and China, an Airbnb study revealed that all three groups stated that their focus is local and personalized travel with at least 80% of each group saying the best way to learn about a place is to live like a local.

Millennials crave authentic experiences, with eight of 10 respondents reporting that the best way to get acquainted with a country is to live like a local and base yourself in local neighborhoods, regardless of whether they are in close proximity to top tourist destinations.

As a hotelier, you must help your guests get the most out of their experience during their stay in your hotel. Remember that Millennials have all the information they need on their phones, but advice from local people, such as your front desk, can help them find authentic places, away from the crowded spots and off the beaten track.

Become part of the traveler’s experience, not a mere onlooker.

Price and Design are a Priority

When it comes to choosing a hotel, millennials look for trendy hotels, that have a unique and original touch. That could be because of its artistic design, farm to table offerings or its unique leisure experiences.

Although the location always plays an important role, a guesthouse with personality away from the heart of the city can be more successful than an unattractive and dull hotel in the center of town.

So give your hotel a distinctive touch. Give it something that makes it unique. Serve beers from local breweries, art from local artists, to menus that highlight food of locally sourced farms. A good idea is to offer a communal space for guests. For example, a place where they can interact and share experiences with people of other nationalities.

It’s particularly important to arrange the space so that it’s comfortable and functional, void of unnecessary luxury that results in increased room prices.

The best advice is that you adapt your hotel to the future and these new market trends.

Business Travel

New research suggests that Millennials say that business and pleasure are meant to be together.

81% of Millennials associate business travel with happiness and job satisfaction, according to last year’s MMGY Global survey on American travelers. Millennials are also taking the most trips out of all age groups — 7.7 annually, while Gen Xers took only 6.4 trips.

Millennials, especially men, also travel more for work; 57 percent of male Millennials took at least one work trip in 2016, compared to 27 percent of female Millennials.

When it comes to business meals, 37% of Millennial business travelers spend larger amounts on room service when their company foots the bill, as versus older business travelers — only 21% of professionals between 45 and 65 splurge while traveling for business according to an Expedia survey.

It is no surprise that operators who want to attract Millennial travelers should take these stats and make changes to appeal to this massive traveling group.

The travel industry should be jumping up for joy for the passion that Millennials bring to our industry. They find joy in exploring new places, having adventures, sharing experiences. They are the wanderlust generation who see travel as a way of life.

It looks like the travel industry that is willing to be the real deal will have some fun times catering to this group and make it so worth it. #wanderlust #letsGoSomewhere #vacation

Hillary Bressler is a travel and hospitality digital marketing expert with 20 years solely focused on digital marketing for Pinch Hit Partners (www.pinchhitpartners.com ) She has emerged as one of the go-to consultants for senior level digital marketing in the travel industry. Executives hire Hillary as a fractional CMO or VP to take their properties and destinations to the next level of digital dominance. She has reviewed and improved the digital ROI of over 100 hotel brands all over the U.S. and Caribbean as well as worked with over 20 CVB’s and destinations, theme parks and tour companies. She is at the forefront of trends affecting increasing ROI for the travel industry. Hillary believes that hotel marketing leaders have the ability to turn hotels into cash cows by being 12-18 months ahead of the curve. Hillary is also the founder of www.happytraveler.com a single parent family travel blog.

Hillary Bressler can be contacted at 321-356-4769 or hillarybressler@gmail.com

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