By David Armstrong, chief executive of HolidayPirates Group
Millennials, sometimes referred to as “Generation Y”, are the demographic group that directly followed “Generation X”, also known as the baby-boomers. The term is applied to individuals who entered into adulthood at the beginning of the 21st century, or that were born between 1982 and 2004.
A huge cultural difference between Generation X and Generation Y is evident in the way that they choose to spend their disposable income. Generation X is generally considered to have grown up with the mentality of “keeping up with the Jones’”. This generation’s life goals were often to save money for the future, with the aim of buying a house or a car to provide a comfortable lifestyle for their nuclear family. However, keeping up with the Jones’ for Millennials is an entirely different concept.
Millennials value variety, opportunity and most of all, new experiences. For a millennial, it is no longer important to have a better car and house than their next door neighbour, but more important to have an exciting collection of experiences, photos and memories on their Facebook, Instagram and other social media pages than their friends from school or university.
Therefore, it has become necessary for the travel industry to know exactly how to communicate with millennials, and obviously, in our digital world, this communication must happen almost entirely online. According to imrg, online travel sales in the UK increased by 16% last year to £130bn, a trend that is evident worldwide.
Traditional marketing techniques seem to fall on deaf ears when it comes to Generation Y. Millennials grew up being bombarded by advertising, making them sceptical about promotional material of any kind. It is clear that they are more likely to listen to recommendations of their friends and independent reviewers on social media, than to be affected by obvious marketing material. This behaviour forces travel companies to be unconventional in their approach to attracting the millennial crowd. Younger travel companies are now attempting to adjust their business model around this unconventional social media message.
The relationship between the tourism industry and millennials is one that has to be based on mutual respect. The online travel agencies need the millennials’ business but the millennials will not be tricked into blindly providing it. Their goal is to gather as many experiences as possible, and to be able to do that in today’s economy means that the price has to be right.
Millennials grew up using computers; the Internet is second nature to them. They can adjust to new programs, websites and operating systems without any difficulty, and are willing to share what they believe is a good product with their friends via social media. This, coupled with the easy access to comparison sites, pushes the online travel agencies to make their prices more accessible and most importantly, affordable. Millennials can compare everything, wherever and whenever they want via their smartphones, and thus, flights providers and the service industry have to meet millennials on their smartphones, by portraying a product that ticks both the price and experience categories.
According to a Google study, about two thirds of millennials are comfortable planning all aspects of their trip on a smartphone; double the number to that of older travellers. Furthermore, 41% of millennials have already been through the process of booking flights on their smartphone, compared to just 25% of older travellers. Most importantly, 66% of millennial travellers are confident that they have complete access to the whole market of flight and hotel information and prices, directly from their smartphone. With such ease of access, the millennial travel client is now effectively a market expert.
Due to their tendency to browse via smartphone and the fact that they receive personalised alerts and notifications, they are constantly aware of the trends as they change and develops. Millennials have proven that they will no longer pay more for an expensive flight with a well-renowned airline, when they can get to their location with budget airlines for a fraction of the cost, just as they will no longer pay hefty fees for hotels when they can have more of a “local experience” at a fraction of the cost with alternatives like Airbnb.
All of these factors mean that now travel comparison sites are the market leaders across the whole travel industry, but the millennials still need more. The online travel industry will continue to be creative in its efforts to attract users; this is evident in a new trend of travel sites frequented by Millennials. Deal gathering sites such as HolidayPirates.com are now doing the comparison work, putting flights, accommodation and even car hire together at prices that even millennials cannot top.
Millennials are attracted to these sites due to the price, but stay for the engaging social media experience, which provides them with information, as well as unbiased reviews from fellow users. Using straightforward language without the marketing jargon, providing engaging videos and informative articles, companies are able to attract users to their website from social media without exhausting the marketing budget.
Due to a combination of current market trends and the behaviour of millennials, it is easy to understand why they are getting significantly better value for money when it comes to travel than anybody else. As millennials value experience more than wealth they are always looking for more interesting trips with a smaller budget. Furthermore, their less rigid lifestyles and a preference towards breaking down their annual leave to accommodate frequent trips, allows them to take advantage of all of the market possibilities, such as last minute deals. Finally, because traditional marketing techniques are not as effective with them and they have better and faster access to information than previous generations, they will no longer accept being overcharged for a trip.