Millennials are constantly expressing their interests on social media channels, and travel is not excluded from the trending topics identified by “hashtag goals.” This desire to travel is not only represented by the stream of photos on their Instagram feeds, but also in their approach to life. This can be seen in the array of benefits that millennials are requesting from their employers that deviate from the normal 401K offerings. This is a major shift from the parents and grandparents of millennials who were more attracted to stability. In contrast, millennials came of age in a time of financial instability due to the recession in 2008. This arguably bred the “you only live once” and “young, wild, and free” mantras that often circulate on millennials’ social media accounts. These mantras are also reflections of their travel habits.
With access to thousands of travel planning platforms through the web and mobile applications, millennials have more resources than ever before to plan their dream vacations. Since the majority of millennials are single, companies have begun to shift some of their marketing tactics to engage with single travelers by creating different pricing packages. These packages are designed for individuals instead of large groups or families. There also has been an emergence of travel groups on platforms such as Contiki. This travel group is created for adults ages 18 -35 to travel to exotic places with a small group. This group travel platform gives millennials the option to travel to a variety of destinations including Los Angeles, London, Bali, and many more without worrying about navigating a new city alone.
Millennials have both an interest in travel and the resources to plan a trip. However, the questions remain how often are they traveling and how are they spending their money on travel? qSample conducted a survey to understand millennials’ travel spending habits. We surveyed over 400 respondents on their travel spending habits and confirmed that the shifting mindset on travel directly affected how they spend and travel frequencies.
The data shows that majority of millennials(61%) are traveling on vacation between five and seven times a year. This is followed by another group of millennials (25%) that are traveling three to fours times a year. In contrast, roughly 65% of Generation X and 70% of both Baby Boomer cohorts are only going on vacation once or twice a year. Despite being at the begin of their careers, millennials are investing time and money in the travel sector. Millennials are not just traveling more but also longer. Approximately 45% of millennials are taking trips that span between eight and ten days and another 39% are take vacations that range from five to seven days. This is longer than the previous generations, with roughly 60% of Generation X and Baby Boomers taking vacations that are less than seven days. Although millennials are traveling frequently, they are actually taking more time to plan their travel. Unlike the Baby Boomers who mostly are planning trips in less than a month, 46% of millennials are planning their travel for two to three months and 36% are taking four to six months to plan. This is a lengthy planning process for a generation that is often characterized as compulsive.
Millennials are also following trends when booking traveling arrangements. The millennial respondents primarily considered three factors when booking travel arrangements: best time of day to travel(26%), flying/lodging with companies they are familiar with(24%), and direct/nonstop flights(23%). This was a contrast between the previous generations who were mostly dedicated to finding a great deal, only about 9% of millennials selected this category as one of their considerations. This illustrates that millennials place more value on optimizing their time on vacation than finding a cheaper rate. Millennials are also diverting from tradition when it comes to lodging arrangements. About 33% of millennials are using alternative lodging such as Airbnb rentals; in contrast, less than 10% of Generation X and Baby Boomers are using this platform. Millennials are staying up-to-date with their options when booking travel. Although these generations contrast in several ways, one similarity is staying with a budget. Roughly 70% of millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers are mindful of their budget when traveling.
Millennials’ travel spending habits can be a tool used to engage with this generation by both established and start-up companies. Since one of the primary considerations for millennials is familiarity with the company, established companies can amend their marketing goals to increase brand loyalty. This can be done by providing a unique and memorable customer service experience for millennials. Subsequently, companies can offer incentives to encourage millennials to talk about the brand via social media. This can possibly earn the brand a spot on the “trending topics” list on Twitter among the millennial cohort. Start-up companies can focus on brand awareness initiative, as well as provide products that help millennials find unique and flexible travel arrangements.
Ultimately, millennials’ travel spending habits provide multiple avenues for companies to gain profit from this generational cohort. Marketing tactics that are geared towards lifestyle choices and autonomous travel would peak millennials’ interest. The goal is for travel companies to align themselves with the millennial mindset in order to make themselves relevant with this generation. When this tactic is executed well, travel companies are satisfied with the results.