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Wednesday, 01 January 2014 00:00

From Baby Boomers to Millennials - The Future of Travel

Written by  Doug Cooke

During the first decade of the 21st century, travel industry pundits were touting the coming of age of the baby boomer generation. This generation, we were told, had the desire, time and income to travel and most importantly, was predisposed to using travel agents. Today’s baby boomers are between the ages of 50 and 68 and probably represent a large share of the average travel agency’s clientele, and a disproportionate share of agency revenues.

So, it came as a surprise to me when at this year’s USTOA annual conference, the focus of several conference sessions was the growth of the millennial generation and how best to reach this demographic. This group, those born between the years of 1982 and 2004, many of whom are children of baby boomers, are just coming into their own economically, and are the travelers of now and the future. This led me to do some research on this group, and I would like to share some of these findings with you.

By 2020, millennials will comprise more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and will have a major impact on the $855 billion U.S. travel and tourism industry. This group is willing to spend money on experiential travel. Travel spending by these younger individuals rose 20 percent in 2010, making them the fastest-growing age segment, according to American Express Business Insights. This fact is confirmed by Starwood Hotels, who reports that millennials account for 50% of all hotel stays.

According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, millennials report a greater desire to visit every continent than preceding generations, and appear to harbor a greater interest in cultural experiences and international travel. They travel for leisure more than any other group, taking an average of 9 trips per year.

Marketing to the Millennial Traveler

We need to be pursuing this generation as clients.- but how to begin? This group was the first to be raised in the digital age, and are attached to their smart phones and Ipads. This generation is also collaborative. They are part of a social community, and they like sharing things with that community. Companies like Facebook have taken notice. Last year, their data team analyzed the types of memories shared on the social networking site and produced a report indicating that travel stories comprise 42 percent of posts on the average user’s timeline. Having a presence on social media is key if you want to reach this generation. Your posts need to address their interest in experiential travel, and be informative, rather than solicitous in nature. Present yourself as a purveyor of spiritually rewarding vacation experiences because you not only want to spark their interest, you want them to book that trip with you. This group does their own research online, gets advice through social media outlets, and book themselves on trips. They need a compelling reason to book through you. If you have not already done so, bring a millennial into your agency and let them teach you how to market to this generation. JAX FAX’s newest staff member is changing the face of our social media, and orchestrating our growth in that area.

Happy New Year. We wish all of our readers a prosperous 2014!


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