Globally the influence of millennials on travel and on marketing has been profound. In the US, millennials are as large a generation cohort as baby boomers.
In China, they are a smaller generation numerically thanks to the one child policy, but as the first generation to benefit from China’s astonishing economic growth, 80’s children (as they are known) are a wealthy and high-consuming group.
The word ‘millennial’ has almost become synonymous with youth. But that is about to change. Millennials (Gen Y) were; broadly speaking born between 1980 and 1995. So the upper end of this cohort is now entering its mid-30s.This generation (people sharing the same birth years and thus formative influences) is about to collide with lifestage (the needs that relate to age).
So as an industry we need to plan for this tectonic shift in three broad areas:
What will happen to their travel behaviour as they become parents?
What will business travel will look like as millennials occupy the ‘peak of influence’?
What are the human capital development implications when millennials fill the majority of management and leadership positions within our industry?
Millennials as family travellers
As millennials become parents, their needs and values often converge with those of other generations. Travel research around millennials has indicated that where they once sought ‘cool’ brands, their brand choices often move to the mainstream as parents.
They also become more value conscious adopting a ‘trading up, trading down’ philosophy. They will save on the elements they value less, while continuing to focus spending on the experiential elements.
Food in particular continues to be a driver for millennials when they travel – and as parents they are also very conscious of nutritional choices for their families.
Millennials were slow to leave the parental home compared to earlier generations. When they did so, it was often with the help of their parents. As a result, they remain close emotionally and financially to them. As parents this has driven the phenomenon of the multi-generational family trip.
The cruise industry has been adept at developing products that meet the needs of this trip – with multi-bedroom suites and larger cabins, but it is not just about hard product. In focus groups, we often hear that an absence of pricing and booking services that recognize more complex family structures is a key barrier to purchase. It is important to show that you welcome multi-generational groups as they offer a more superior ROI than smaller family groups.
Reliance on technology to smooth the experience, and also for sharing that experience is one element of millennials’ lives that survives parenthood. Eighty-one percent have shared family experiences on social media. The travel industry must continue to place technology at the core of the offer and create opportunities for such sharing of experience. In the age of semantic search, this will also drive your rankings for family friendly travel.