Millennials aren’t traveling like you. Gone are the days of travel agents, posed pictures with cheesy smiles, and the sun, sand, and souvenirs culture. This generation of twenty-and-thirtysomethings are looking for something more than R&R out of their vacations. The Miami beach party scene that we associate with young, hip partiers, while still shown on MTV and Keeping up with the Kardashians, doesn’t accurately represent this group either. This new generation travels for culture, they travel for food, they travel to share. (And they’re completely transforming the travel industry as we know it.)

A study done by Topdeck Travel, an agency that caters specifically to the Millennial crowd, uncovered interesting information about this demographic. 86% of them traveled to experience a new culture and 69% were more interested in eating local foods than they were partying or shopping.

So how do they decide where to go?

Two factors come into play here, and neither of them are travel agents or advertisements.

The first factor is social media, and the second is kind of social media. Not terribly surprising to see that their network of friends and the larger network of people updating popular review sites (Tripadvisor, Yelp, Airbnb) are their main contributors that help them decide where to travel.

A survey found that 75% of Millennials post to social networks at least once a day during their traveling. Thanks to map features on Facebook and Instagram, Millennials are actively updating in order to add locations and also share their vacation with their friends – influencing others to vacation there as well. After all, they live in the “Pics or it didn’t happen” environment.

As far as company review sites, the study showed that getting user-generated recommendations are more influential to them than any advertisement, since these sites have strict policies that keep businesses from deleting or adjusting reviews.

Andrey Yurlov/Shutterstock

“It’s the only way you can tell that where you’re going is as amazing as it looks,” said 24-year-old Steven Nicholson, a frequent Millennial traveler. “I update those sites when I travel, especially if it was a bad experience so that others don’t get stuck making my same mistake.”

Because of social media, much travel for Millennials involves updating review sites as they go. An article in The Guardian says, referring as an example of those travelers visiting the Louvre’s Mona Lisa, “The experience must be captured… a photograph which, in the end, says, I was here. I went to Paris and saw the Mona Lisa. The photo shows that you could afford the trip, that you are cultured…”

Traveling then, is about the experience itself, but it is also about sharing the experience. And because of that, Millennials are transforming the travel industry.

Brilliant photographs are being taken and shared. Review sites are being updated, warning and encouraging others to share their same experience. “I did this and loved it and so will you,” the reviews say to the reader. Checking in to a restaurant or hotel or landmark verifies that you were there, you actually had that experience, and it lends credibility to any review you might post.

As a business though, you need more than just free Wi-Fi and your own social media accounts if you want to attract this important crowd. Value, integrity, and lasting experience is what they seek. And the waves they’re making in the industry are reaching all of us, making our own travel more beneficial, unique, and, well, more connected.


One Response

  1. David Wall

    I completely agree, but it's not only the millennials, gone are the days of hotels that rob people of the cultural exposure. Airbnb, hostels, and inns provide a much more grass roots experience.


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About The Author

Mandy Voisin

Hey I'm Mandy. Writer, traveler, wife, mother, author, woman, over-sharer. I like to talk about the grit of travel, the beautiful, and the people that I meet. Oh yeah - and traveling with kids.