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What Do You Know About Millennials?

I Mean Really, Really Know About Them and Their Travel Predilections.

Each year MMGY, a marketing and branding organization with offices across the globe, publish a report: Portrait of the American Traveler (POAT). Now in its 28th year, POAT has become one of the most insightful and actionable studies in the space. It is an in-depth look at the vacation habits preferences and intentions of American travelers.

This bad boy is a stunning 220 pages of facts and figures. It’s dense to say the lease. But lucky for you, you won’t have to wade through all of it. We are going to provide our insights, observations and steps you can take to help your better understand the Millennial traveler and ultimately drive more business.

Ready? Let’s go.

The Target

Let’s start with the age range. Pew Research Center research indicates the range for Millennials between 1981 and 1996. This puts the oldest at the ripe age of 37 — the youngest at 22. That gap is significant.

Why?

Because, on the high end you are dealing with a group now firmly established in the work force, starting a family and beginning to knock at the door of middle age. At the opposite end you have a group just graduating from college and deciding on the next step in their journey which may include moving back home.

One group started when Ronald Reagan was in office…the other is probably unaware of who was the 40th president.

It’s important to start here because as marketers we need to avoid lumping an entire generation together. Easier said than done. It’s much easier to use blanket statements and generalities to define a generation. And while this approach may work when it comes cocktail banter, if you are a marketer that makes a living by connecting with this group in order to sell travel, using generalities is a train wreck.

So, how much do you know about this demo? Especially as it relates to travel. Again, using Pew Research Center as our reference source, by 2019 Millennials will overtake Boomers as the largest living generation. See the chart below. The cross over is happening and if we fast forward just a few years we can see how the lines diverge — and quite dramatically.

Just their size alone makes this an important area of focus. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s get into the data.

For many advisors, the big dollars are with international destinations, vacation packages, cruise packages. These are the higher ticket items. And a tell-tale sign of who is planning on international destination vacations is Passport Status. According to the data, Millennials are near the top in this category. See the table below.

Having a passport is a good indicator this group is interested in travel and moreover this group is significantly higher than X-ers, and just slightly ahead of Boomers at a 69%. So, we know they have a passport. But what about their interest in travel? Let’s look at their actual travel intentions in the following table.

As you can see, this group is ready for an international vacation. 52% indicated they are planning on taking an international vacation in the next 12 months — much higher than the other generations. The data also indicates that 74% are interested in taking more or the same number of international vacations. Again, another positive indicator. Next let’s take a look at the spending of Millennials compared to that of the other groups.

Here’s where things shift. Note, Millennials may not be spending the most — other generations can lay claim to that. However, what is interesting is the amount of spending. Millennials are the only group increasing. Moreover, Millennials are using their vacation time. Every year, reports circulate about how many vacation days Americans (in general) go unused every year. This is certainly true for X-ers and Boomers — but as the chart below indicates, Millennials are using their vacation days. In fact, they are the lowest of the three demographics.

Finally, let’s look at Millennials and how they are using the services of travel agents. The next two charts provide a glimpse into who is currently using traditional travel agents and who plans to use an agent into the future. What is interesting to note is the difference between Millennials who have used a traditional travel agent for domestic vacations v. international travel. The difference is surprising don’t you think? 70% of the domestic vacations are aided by an agent, while only 30% of international destinations. Maybe there’s room to pick up some more domestic business?

Looking at the table below, if we factor out Matures — Millennials who use a travel agent are most likely to use an agent again in the next two years.

Key Take-Aways

So, what does this all mean and how can you begin to use this knowledge to drive some more business? Here are three things to consider:

1. The time is now to develop your strategies and tactics that will allow you to connect and develop a relationship with Millennials. Sure, there’s still a good book of business to be made from Matures and Boomers — and no one is saying to walk away from those segments. But the fact is, now is your time to be connecting with a generation that can potentially sustain your business over the next 30–40 years. They are the largest demographic and will quickly grow in importance as the years go on. They have a passport, are interested in travel and do seek out the advice and services from travel professionals. There clearly is opportunity but it will require you develop the right strategy to build a connection. In future posts, we will go into more details on the tactics that will help connect with Millennials.

2. Keep in mind the wide age range when you are building your Millennial strategy. At one end you have a group with new families. At the other — young women and men right out of college. Given this, a one size fits all approach isn’t going to work. Tailor your strategy and tactics and focus your efforts. You’ll burn through a lot of resources if you don’t.

3. While the desire is to focus on international travel, the data presented in this post indicates an opportunity to pick up additional business on the domestic side of things. A strategy may be to use domestic travel as the path that opens the door to bigger excursions down the road. Yes, your initial domestic vacation may not yield much in profits, but it can act as the gateway to a longer-term relationship that could prove to be very rewarding over time.

Hope that helps get you up to speed with this crucial demographic and lets you better understand what makes them tick today, and moreover why you should not just embrace them but the dollars and cents of more actively engaging them in ways they will respond too…. psssst, it involves mobile.

Thanks for reading and share if you feel this would add value to someone else in your world.

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