Get Ready for the Age of the Millennial Traveler

Every brand worth their weight in gold knows their high-value audiences. Often, these are baby boomers and Gen Xers who are at a comfortable, stable phase of their financial lives. But it’s equally important to know tomorrow’s high-value audience — a generation that’s steadily encroaching on the baby boomers’ spending power. The millennials, ages 18 to 34, have surpassed the baby boomers in population size, according to the Pew Research Center. By 2025, 46 percent of US income will be generated by this tech-savvy, experience-hungry generation.

Keeping the increasing spending power of millennials in mind is key for any brand, but travel brands have an exceptional amount to gain by embracing this fact, imagining its ramifications, and then acting accordingly. Travel is where millennials love to invest. In fact, 70 percent of them say they value experiences over things, and they travel more per year on average than older age groups.

But this doesn’t mean that millennial dollars will automatically fall into every travel brand’s coffers — these are discerning consumers with very specific demands. To reach this digitally-native demographic, digital isn’t just nice to have — it’s a necessity. “Millennials aren’t necessarily technologically savvy; they’re technologically dependent,” says Jason Dorsey in a report by Skift.

To engage these consumers online, travel brands must constantly seek ways to personalize and target relevant messages across digital channels and devices. The average millennial owns 7.7 connected devices and uses 3.3 devices daily. Smartphones are the most common, but individuals migrate from device to device throughout a given day. Millennials are far more likely than older travelers to shop for flights and hotels on their mobile devices, according to a recent report.

Members of this demographic also rely on brand-created and social media content as they plan and navigate their travel choices. In fact, 84 percent of millennials usually plan trips based on someone else’s vacation photos or social media updates. These users produce content, share content, and prefer customized content when it comes from brands. They demand new levels of transparency as they engage over time.

This generation comes with some characteristic traits, but multiple sub-segments of millennials exist as well. For example, there’s the “hip-ennial,” who wants to make the world a better place, or the “millennial moms,” who work out, travel, and spend time with their kids. To speak the language of each millennial subset and deliver experiences that resonate, brands can invest now in strategic analytics and programmatic marketing tools that get the job done. But this level of digital maturity takes time, and brands that wait lose out on the first-mover advantage. Failing to be top-of-mind when millennials are ready to spend more than ever on travel experiences will impact the bottom line.

The first steps are to understand the unique traits and interests of millennials, learn to speak their language, meet them where they are, and deliver a great experience. To learn how, read “Millennials Love Travel. How Travel Brands Can Love them Back.