Connecting with Millennial Travelers: Four Facts DMOs Need to Know

April 12, 2017

Although much can be said about the generation of millennial travelers and nomophobic millennial travelers, including their deep connection to technology, one fact is indisputable — the number of millennials has surpassed the number of baby boomers. Destinations must adjust to strategies for connecting with new-world travelers and understand the travel expectations of millennials.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 83 million millennials — between the ages of 18 and 34 — live in the United States. Driven by different travel needs vs. other generations, millennials crave unique, sharable and valuable travel experiences above all else.

To attract millennial travelers, DMOS must consider these four factors:

1. Travel Inspiration

User-generated content— such as online reviews, blog posts and status updates — inspires them to travel and influences their decisions more so than any advertisement. They often discover new travel opportunities through peers via social media — Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, but not Facebook — and company review sites, such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and Airbnb. DMOs should explore partnerships with digital influencers that can highlight their destinations’ key attributes through hosted influencer trips and social media takeovers. By working with the bloggers and social media stars from whom millennials seek their travel inspiration, DMOs can connect with and motivate millennial travelers.

2. Digital Connections

Permanently attached to their smartphone, millennials’ love of technology pervades all areas of their travel. Nearly half of them research travel deals and destinations on their smartphones and through social media before they book their trip on their mobile device (Expedia). Also, they love to share their personal experiences by snapping scores of photos, and that theme continues when they travel. In fact, 97% of millennials use social media when they travel, averaging at least one post a day on social networks (Skift). DMOs can use the valuable resources of social media to foster connections with millennials by offering them itinerary ideas, occupying them while they are on the ground and reconnecting with them post-trip. Destinations can embrace digital travelers even more by tapping into unique experiences and amenities that cater to die-hard social networkers, such as branded geo-filters on Snapchat.

 3. Unique Is the Word

Traveling millennials desire unique experiences and prefer custom travel opportunities that allow for a fully immersive culture-driven trip. Wanting to break away from the norm, they strive to explore and learn from the communities they visit. From feasting on local cuisine to enjoying outdoor adventures, millennials crave interactive and once-in-a-lifetime journeys. Through sample travel itineraries and community-inspired trip guides, DMOs can showcase their unique offerings by creating content that connects millennials with destinations in new ways.

4. Loyalty Meets Value

Thrifty, motivated by rewards and thorough researchers, millennials strive to find the best value possible, especially when traveling. Millennials check an average of 10 sources before they make travel purchases, to ensure they spend as little money as possible (Deloitte). They also are more likely to embrace loyalty programs than other generations — 50% of millennials vs. 30% of baby boomers (Expedia) — and they expect to earn rewards during every aspect of their trip for use on future travel. DMOs should highlight promotions during the booking phase, reward millennials with authentic experiences during their trip and share travel offers with them for use on their next visit.

For more insights on millennial travelers, tweet us @AboutDCI.

Kyrsten Cazas

Written by Kyrsten Cazas

Kyrsten is a Senior Account Executive at DCI. She has a background working with clients spanning the culinary, luxury, hospitality and travel industries.

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