Millennials have over $1 trillion in student loan debt. Surprisingly they are also the generation that travels more than any other, spending about $200 billion per year. And they approach traveling in unique ways. Brands that understand how to take advantage of this can see a tremendous upside in revenue.
Millennials prefer to travel with large groups of friends or family. Traveling in groups means larger accommodations are needed. Companies like Airbnb and HomeAway have made it easy to find a place that can fit a tribe, but remember – no one is there to change the bed sheets or bring fresh towels. Hostels are trending again, and hotel chains like Marriott have created brands specifically for Millennials, the AC Hotel and Moxy, infused with modern chic and a vibrant social scene where they can work and play, and rooms with the latest technology.
This group is choosing to spend more on collecting experiences than collecting things. Experiences are not found in the typical tourist traps, but rather off the beaten path. Whether it’s taking a safari, traveling the continents, going to the Olympics or visiting national parks, Millennials are looking for adventure, experiencing the local culture, and learning in the process.
Twenty-five percent to forty percent of all Millennials’ weddings take place away from home. While sunset at the beach can be beautiful, now the trend is to hold the wedding at sunrise. Honeymoons have changed as well. Couples are choosing to include multiple destinations as opposed to staying in one place and lying around.
Since Millennials are the most connected generation, it is no surprise they check out on average ten travel sites as they do their research. Travel brands like Brite Spokes have built their businesses by offering thematic trips and enriching experiences. Orbitz and Trivago allow people to find many brands’ prices and availability all in one place. Mobile apps are a must in this category.
Because this group has limited funds, they tend to do business with those brands that offer rewards. And another way to save is by combining business travel with personal vacations, what’s known as “bleisure.” Tacking on a few extra days to a business trip not only saves time, it also allows travelers to unwind and disconnect from work.
But this group very seldom disconnects from their social sites. They are into sharing, and sharing everything – from taking pictures of what they had for breakfast, to checking into a current location, to posting videos of their experiences. Not only do they read others’ reviews, they can also be an influencer as they share their own experiences.
Millennials have significant spending power and they have shown they are willing to spend for an experience. It is important to communicate with them on their own terms – with well-developed websites and apps, sharing pictures, and even using virtual reality so they can experience it vicariously. The travel industry is only going to grow – get on board!