Millennials are many things, but one thing for certain is that they are very interested in travel. In fact, the generation born between 1981-1997 travels more than any other generation, and their travel is likely only to increase as they age. It is not only the amount of travel that sets millennials aside from the previous generation, but it’s also their preferences for the type of travel on which they will embark. Not surprisingly, young and worldly millennials are looking for something new, fresh and out-of-the-box when it comes time to travel.
With their numbers at around 83,100,000, or about twenty five percent of the US population, millennials are a powerful demographic that retailers and the travel industry are wise to heed. As they comprise over half of the country’s workforce, it makes sense that they, and the younger generations following in their footsteps, will account for 75% of all consumers and travelers by 2025. These number are too large to be ignored by retailers and the global travel industry, if they want to stay in business, according to a study by Airbnb.
Millennials prioritize travel more than other generations traveling on average 4.2 times per year compared to the older gen-x (ages 41-52) and baby boomer (ages 53-71) generations. In a study by the American Society of Travel Agents 80 percent of millennials surveyed took at the minimum one non-business trip in 2016. Unlike previous generations, millennials see leisure travel as a necessary part of life rather than as a “treat” and want their travel time to be all about exploring, experiencing and discovering the next big adventure.
Millennials choose to travel to relax, explore, see local sights, and connect with people. Accordingly, most millennial travelers prefer to stay in bustling local neighborhoods rather than in isolated hotels or resorts crowded with tourists. Furthermore, respondents indicated overwhelmingly that they prefer adventure trips where they can be physically active and test their limits doing and trying new things, with lots of flexibility to be spontaneous too. Finally, this demographic has no problem traveling solo, or meeting up and joining with fellow travelers on the journey.
The desire for travel infused with the chance to make connections and visit low key locations is currently a common theme recognized by the travel industry. Ordinary tours, busy big name beaches and tourist attractions just don’t cut it for millennial travelers. The tech savvy generation that spends enormous chunks of time connected via mobile devices and which has “friends” and “followers” they have never met, is seeking to connect genuinely with themselves, their travel buddies and the people they meet during the course of their adventure.
Millennials, though, have no desire to disconnect from the internet, and sharing pictures of their travels on social networks is a must. While they enjoy off the radar locations, having wifi, at least most of the time, is critical so that photos and updates of their experience can be shared online.
An example of a vacation destination that built its business to cater towards the modern wants and needs of millenials is the Swell Surf Camp situated in the Caribbean. The average guest is around 34 year old and is seeking an adventure either solo, in pairs or in groups.
Understanding their clientele, the owners deliberately situated the relaxed resort an equal easy walk from the beach and the local town, rather than right on the water. The strategy is successful because millenials want to test their limits surfing and then relaxing on the beach, but they also want to explore the local scene and experience the culture and traditions of the people who live there. Plus, the diverse backdrop gives guests plenty of incredible photo opps to share with friends and family across the social networks.
It can be said that millenials prefer to be travelers rather than tourists. By walking the streets and by shopping, eating, and partying at neighbourhood stores, restaurants and bars, millennial travelers can mingle and meet local people, exploring the culture from the inside rather than from the outside.
The tourist industry – from travel agents, resorts, hotels, airlines, retailers, food eateries to tour operators – is catching on that millennials are rewriting the rules of the travel game to fit the collective personality of their generation. From the looks of it and from the numbers, there is no going back. Those in the industry who want to stay in the game need to get on board quickly because this generation is on the move.