Whether for business or pleasure, millennial travel is on the rise. This group isn’t like their predecessors in terms of behavior, attitude or spending habits—which presents a unique and lucrative opportunity for travel brands. While millennials don’t represent the majority of travel spend yet, smart travel brands should begin to look at their engagement strategy to ensure they’re reaching this prized audience in a compelling way because they will likely become more and more lucrative as they age, their lifestyle changes and they advance in their careers. However, this isn’t necessarily an easy process as millennials expect a lot from brands in return for their attention and business. They crave distinctive and authentic experiences. The good news here is that travel brands are well positioned to provide millennials just that as travel is in and of itself a unique experience. So how can travel marketers create experiences that will build brand loyalty with millennials?
- Be social. Millennials are the demographic that will share their experiences on social sites the most. Make sure you are part of the conversation by being on the same social sites as the millennial population. Be ready to respond and interact as millennials tag you in their conversations, such as how Tripadvisor links reviews to Facebook. Brands spend too much time attempting to do something new rather than joining or learning from the relevant, organic exchanges that are occurring 24/7.
- Earn recommendations. Millennials also look to their peers for advice, especially when it comes to their travel choices. In fact, 84% of millennials say consumer-written content plays a significant role in their decisions, and 51% trust opinions from strangers online over those from family and friends. So crowd source, encourage and even incent your millennials travelers to write reviews. Again leverage conversations that are already taking place about your brand. Millennials are happy to share their experiences—they want to tell their unique stories. Millennials are keen to share (and brag a bit) about their experiences. They are twice as likely to post their travel experiences on Facebook then other demographics.
- Make booking effortless. Millennials view booking travel as burdensome. When they do book travel, it’s typically via travel aggregator sites such as Kayak and Hipmunk. Also, don’t forget about mobile. 75% of millennials have travel apps on their phones versus just 47% of non-millennials. United Airlines caters to this group by embedding an Uber link in their app, providing a convenient travel experience beyond the airport. Become the virtual concierge for your millennial travelers—a curator with the personal insight and credibility to suggest and organize the activities they crave. As a first step, ensure your booking process across all of your sites and all devices is effortless.
Millennials will likely be the core business demographic in just five years. And although they currently travel more for pleasure and less for business overall, they spend approximately the same amount as non-millennial business fliers on total flights per year. To be successful with this demographic, start building your relationships now – take the time to truly get to know this audience, identify what matters to them and speak to them on an individual level to prepare for the next gen traveller.