It’s a bit like trying to catch an eel, I’d imagine.. that’s what the Millennial traveller represents to suppliers of tourism with its apparently fickle character, vacillating interests, behaviours and tendencies. Fortunately, with enough ongoing studies being done on the subject, we can identify some common threads to latch onto that help us to begin understanding millennials, how we can best serve their needs and tap into their market. What is abundantly clear, however, is that regardless of what part of the globe they call home, they exist in the digital space. If we don’t meet them there, they won’t even know we exist, nor will they care.

According to TravelCarma, this is a generation of travellers that will reach 78 million by 2030, vastly outnumbering Baby Boomers. They already spend more per day in-destination compared to other age groups, with a particular inclination to spend more on accommodation and activities (while tending to shop around for cheaper flights). The economic power they hold compels travel suppliers to sit up and take note of this notoriously difficult to identify and please demographic.

Studies have identified them as being anywhere between teenage years and early 30s, some are single, some are married, some have young children. With subsets within this diverse group making things even harder, it makes complete sense to follow this choice bit of advice that keeps popping up: Ask them what they want. In marketing speak, it means engagement in the digital space where millennials live.

Increases in mobile search volume exceeding 49% for hotels and cruises, and 47% for tours and attractions, all point to the fact that experiences need to be developed with a mobile-first approach, one that covers all stages from booking to customer services, and so on. Your website is a good place to start then.

64% believe they pay less by booking directly through a brand site.

MDG Advertising

You can make it easier for them and convert that belief into brand loyalty by making the necessary investment in your website. Make it an engaging, content-rich digital hub where they can research, purchase, review and socially share your travel products.

This is really the only way to score major brownie points with a growing travel market that expects your brand to be connected and offer seamless digital interactions before they’d consider buying from you.

You need to give them options on how they can communicate with your brand and take action, whether it’s on social media platforms, via direct messaging, or other travel-related apps – as long as it’s all digital!

If there are booking forms or similar that need to be completed online, ensure those are mobile-friendly with a strong user experience (UX) focused design.

And if you do nothing else, you absolutely must create a space for social sharing and reviews. It turns out millennials prize reviews throughout the travel process, not just while booking.

Ask and ye shall receive. Feedback, that is. While you’re engaging directly with potential or existing clients, consider your messaging. Who better to speak Millennial than a millennial employee? Consider employing someone to monitor and manage your online review platforms and social media, someone to write blogs with targeted messaging, offering trustworthy content, someone who understands and can advise on the relevant trends, someone who can influence millennial travellers, someone who is equally tech savvy, gets the millennial digital mindset, and speaks their language..

They would tell you, for example, to invest more time and money in the kind of travel content millennials prefer to consume. Digital video consumption has risen yearly with more than a billion users on YouTube, about 8 billion video streams on Facebook daily, and 6 billion video streams on Snapchat daily. They would tell you that video and social media could be combined as 1 strategy to be relevant to millennials. Short, snackable video being far more attractive to them than the old school format of long-winded, text-heavy content, it goes without saying that content snippets that are easily skimmed will retain interest better. Enable this valuable, visual content with social sharing options and you could have happy millennial travellers distributing your content among their social circles as they play their part in advocating travel brands they trust.

Have laptops, will travel. Millennials probably gave birth to bleisure travel. It’s exciting to note that the 18 to 30 year age group leads the number of business trips taken so far this year when you consider that they frequently extend these trips with personal travel or leisure activities. They seek out the local culture, nightlife, food, and the company of like-minded locals or fellow travellers.

Providing this group with comprehensive in-destination options to choose from is not just lucrative but also serves to develop and strengthen the relationship you’ve begun to build with your client.

Hello repeat business!

Remember to provide a seamless experience with choice being the main component in empowering the traveller to discover and enjoy your destination. Of course, time is of the essence – they’re after instant gratification, and choice caters well to their spontaneous urges and moods. So bring on those last minute specials and deals specially targeted to your millennial couple or solo traveller.

Value wins over budget. When Hilton Worldwide embarked on their digital-first millennial onslaught in 2016, features like mobile check-in, room selection, keyless room entry, and a revamped front desk, set a new standard for the hospitality industry. It’s the Internet of Things knocking at your door.

Think social media walls displaying real-time content to promote engagement among guests. Or a digital concierge service offering information on neighbourhood sites to visit with a pay point feature, like an ATM for tourism activities. Millennial dislike of queues and slow bandwidth dictate you should consider offering a service or app to facilitate special needs around room selection, dietary requirements (vegan or gluten-intolerant anyone?) and the ability to pre-book certain components of their stay.

Obviously sufficient complimentary WiFi bandwidth is an expectation, which needn’t even be mentioned in this age. Millennials take their own content along on their travels and want to be able to stream their favourite Netflix shows onto their own devices or share pictures spontaneously wherever they are in the world. If they’re on a bleisure trip, they naturally need 24/7 connectivity in order to download documents as they would back at the office. They’d want a fridge in their room, USB hub with multiple power points to charge their various devices, spaces to lounge and socialise in, in-room work desks.. Again, to hit your mark, just ask questions and they’ll tell you what they expect.

Work it well and your millennial will share their love for you all over the place. You could even develop your own brand hashtag and encourage guests to upload their travel anecdotes, recommendations and pics to social media during and after their stay. Millennials love being able to show off where they’ve been and what they’ve done, and happily depress other travellers with a dose of FOMO to inspire, in turn, a bit of wanderlust. So you find them where they live, online, and invite them to sample the authenticity of your brand, relevant travel products and amenities conveniently packaged for their easy access, and underscore the entire experience with reliable peer reviews that speak to millennials.

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