The INTERNET loves to assign tropes to millennials. You may be a millennial if you still live in your parent’s basement, have loads of student debt and binge-watch Netflix. You may be a millennial if you are a procrastinator who dislikes traditional work, commitment of all kinds, and department stores. You may be a millennial if you love pizza and sleeping and are exceptionally good at navigating your iPhone.
Millennials are often boxed into the “kid” category. They’re the young ‘uns disrupting traditional office settings and not buying homes and choosing dogs over children. But the reality is that the group is aging, and those on the older-end of the millennial spectrum and even some on the younger end can’t hang with the millennial crowd. Especially when it comes to millennials and travel.
A lot has been said about millennial travel and much of it spurs from companies wanting a piece of the whopping $200 billion millennial travel market. Most of the conversation revolves around millennials traveling solo, couch surfing, and applying filters to artsy vacation photos. But the older end of the millennial spectrum are the ones actually driving the market. They’re the ones who are more likely employed, have higher earnings, and families. And despite the fact that they’re the ones spending the most money — these “responsible millennials” (yes! It’s a thing!) are the ones changing the face of travel.
The University of Melbourne’s Dan Woodman calls this rare breed Xennials — those with a mix of the optimism of millennials and the pessimism — (or what we like to think of as the practicality) of Gen X. And here are three facts about them that marketers would be wise to pay attention to:
Millennials Are Traveling with Kids
Millennials are often called kids themselves, when about half of them have their own children. According to a report by consultancy firm Resonance, 1.3 million millennial women gave birth for the first time in 2015. And 44% of them are bringing their kids along with them on their travels. Most of the travels involve beach resorts of some kind, but 25% of them are going overseas to foreign destinations. According to another report, it’s surprising to note that 62% of these millennials are traveling with children under the age of 5.
A hallmark of the traditional millennial crowd is memory making — which this older demographic seems to take especially seriously. Since millennials are seeking unique travel experiences, they’re apt to want to share those with their kids.
This means that for hotels, airlines, and other businesses hoping to attract the millennial market, offering family discounts, kids-eat-free deals, child-friendly resorts, and more could help attract this growing demographic.
Millennials Like Hotels
Countless articles assert that hotels will soon become dinosaurs, extinct to more untraditional accommodations like Airbnb, campgrounds, couch surfing, and hostels thanks to millennials. But research says that’s not actually the case.
According to market research by Resonance, 53% of millennials actually prefer to stay in a full-service hotel or resort. Part of that may have something to do with the convenience. Chasing down a key or communicating with a host at an apartment rental or Airbnb can waste valuable travel time. And the reliable Wi-Fi, hotel bar happy hour, and travel points you can accrue with a trusted brand are also draws.
But millennials expect more from their hotels than Gen Xers. They want free, high-speed Wifi above all else — which fits the millennial stereotype. But they also seek the privacy and the proximity hotels offer to major attractions and restaurants, shopping, etc. Millennials want to be in the heart of it all. They don’t want to have to rent a car or travel far out of their way to find entertainment. They don’t want to have to share an Airbnb with a family of four. And because so many millennials are traveling with children, hotels would be wise to adapt their facilities to be more family friendly.
Millennials Are Cheap
Millennials are considered a cheap generation. They’re apparently not buying cars, or houses. They have a lot of debt, they’re not buying insurance, and they’re not saving for retirement. But they are spending all of their money on travel … at least that’s what a lot of the media reports. But that may be changing.
Bankrate recently conducted a study that showed that millennials actually spend less on travel than previously assumed. They’re spending an average of $1,943 per year on trips or vacations, while older Americans (Boomers, Gen X) are spending closer to $2,600. This could be due to the aging millennials who have to prioritize hospital bills, groceries, and other recurring expenses over travel.
But that doesn’t mean Millennials aren’t willing to pay at all. Millennials are known to spend more on gym memberships, groceries, and restaurant orders — things that improve their everyday lives. Those wanting to sell to this generation would do well to provide small details such as free breakfast or parking. Quality experiences off the beaten path are what millennial travelers are seeking. They’re not willing to blow their savings on the trip of a lifetime, but they’re willing to save up for one.
Gone are the days when millennials were considered snapchatting upstarts who can’t carry on a real-life conversation and are killing the 9-5 work week. Trends are evolving as the group is aging. And marketers who want to capture this enormous market would do well to evolve right along with them.