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What Millennials and Mobile-Savvy Consumers Want as Tourists and Travelers, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

At Plunkett Research, we define the Millennial cohort (Gen Y) as those people born between 1982 and 2002.  (Some organizations use slightly different years.)  This is the largest cohort in U.S. history—larger even than Baby Boomers.  They will rapidly make up an increasingly significant share of hotel, resort and other lodging guests.  Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that Millennial habits and attitudes, such as deep dependence on well-curated social media pages for personal expression, are spilling over into other generations.  “Millennial” may be as much a state of mind (psychographics) as a specific age cohort (demographics).

Millennial Travel Goals and Desires:
1)    Unique, adventuresome, even exotic experiences that they can be proud to post to social media.
2)    Reasonable prices, even bargain vacations.
3)    Modest environmental impact, even eco-friendly hotels and resorts.
4)    Sharing economy experiences, particularly if the sharing strategy saves money or provides an opportunity to gather with their peers.  Airbnb plays well here.  (Sleeping in someone’s spare bedroom is not only inexpensive, it’s a sharing experience to post about.) Even hostels are making a comeback.
5)    Community-based experiences such as local foods and beers, even to the extent of participating in humanitarian or philanthropic projects while on vacation.  The cruise and tour industries are jumping on this “social impact travel” trend—but hotels lag.  Carnival operates a Fathom subsidiary for Millennials and other travelers who want to add volunteerism and authentic cultural experiences to their cruise travel.

     Millennial leisure travelers will look to gain status through posting about experiences that qualify as unique, local or authentic (in the real world).  That is, travel that enables them to express who they are, where they’ve been and how they lead a meaningful and conscious life.  A well-curated Instagram feed may grant more status than owning a new car.  Millennial business travelers will respond to unique hotel offers that enable them to post about unique experiences, foods and beverages.  Hotels that create ways to drive social media postings from satisfied, fully engaged guests will earn a superior ROI on marketing spending.

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