Millennials are the largest generation in history and currently make up 25% of the U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). The individuals that make up this demographic are spending and traveling in different ways than their predecessors, though. With this in mind, travel destinations must be mindful of generational differences and ensure their brands meet the needs of millennial travelers.
The Experience Matters
Experience spending has dramatically increased since millennials entered the workforce and started to have expendable income (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2016). In their 2014 study, Eventbrite found that 78% of millennials would rather spend on experiences than purchase goods. In the same study, 77% of millennials reported that some of their best memories are from events and live experiences. This tells us that millennials are willing to spend on travel, but the experience has to be unique, memorable and authentic.
Social Media is a Research Tool
Millennials report heavy social media usage and a high propensity to share information about their experiences (Pew Research Center, 2014), so it is a natural fit for destinations to communicate their brand to millennials via social media. Skift (2016) explains that brands can communicate authenticity by using social media as a storytelling tool and by encouraging current travelers to share their experiences. This is especially important since millennials often use social media to research vacation options and review the opinions and experiences of other travelers about destinations (Skift, 2016). So having a strong brand presence on social media that allows your audience to share and converse about their travel experiences is a must.
Help Them Share Their Story
Not only is social media important during the discovery portion of the vacation planning process, but it is also a vital component once millennials reach their destinations. Millennials use social media as a tool to express their personality and tell their personal story (Marketing Land, 2014). Skift (2016) further explains that for brands to resonate with millennials they need to provide their visitors with the social tools to share their experiences. This goes beyond just having a social presence, but also making sure your brand is on the forefront of social media trends.
Marketing to millennials can be difficult since the generation is so large, but travel brands can start to appeal to them by understanding why they travel, what they value in a destination and how their brand can cater to millennial needs.