The way we travel has changed. For many, travel agents are forgone for the internet and Teletext is nothing but a childhood memory, if a memory at all! But it isn’t just the booking process that has transformed, it’s the whole holiday package. Why? Millennials. After all, this is the generation that, according to our Millennial Traveller Report, are more likely to see dream holidays in their futures (72 per cent) than brand new cars (65 per cent).
This new generation of travellers value holidays offering unique experiences, seeking authentic adventures rather than seven days around the pool. They are social media-savvy, devoted to gadgets and constantly seeking peer approval. Most importantly, they view travel as a meaningful life experience, rather than a simple holiday.
Of course, the travel industry must also move with the times and respond to demand, using Millennials’ habits as inspiration. So, how are these young holidaymakers changing modern travel?
Our Millennial Traveller Report revealed that, while non-millennials are more likely to holiday with their partner (61 per cent) or children (34 per cent), 61 per cent of millennials are much more likely to travel with their friends, their parents or even alone. Could this herald a boom in adult-only travel?
With millennials seeking out their dream holiday and new travel experiences, chances are they’re already making up the bulk of holidaymakers. It makes sense, then, that travel operators would cater to this demand, offering more adult-only resorts, excursions and holiday packages than ever before. Think eco-resorts deep in the jungle, where visitors can trek through the forest, abseil by thundering waterfalls and dine on local food.
If there is one thing that defines the millennial generation, it’s social media. No longer used simply to keep in touch with friends, social media has become a means to ‘one-up’ your loved ones, friends – even complete strangers! Numbers of likes, followers and comments, artfully composed Instagram pictures of avocado toast, holiday snaps of exotic locations… all these count towards your social currency.
Did you know that 43 per cent of millennials manage their personal life on a smartphone at least once a day? And it isn’t just when millennials use their phones that’s important, it’s how.
No less than 56 per cent of millennials agreed with the statement: “I have posted a photo/video of my holiday on a social network while I’m away”, and not just because they want to share their beautiful destinations. For 31 per cent of millennials, having somebody comment on their social media posts while on holiday is just as important as having an authentic travel experience. It provides affirmation, boosting their confidence and providing proof of ‘popularity’. But what could this preoccupation with social currency mean for the travel industry?
Well, we can see the birth of the ‘digital hotel’: the ability to check-in yourself, utilise digital room keys and control the ambience of your surroundings with an app. Just think how easy it would be to open the curtains to an amazing view, with a single tap on your phone. Social media could be used to send guests personalised offers and rewards. When you post an Instagram selfie while sipping a cocktail by the hotel pool, for example. Tag the hotel in your caption and when the hotel sees it, you could receive a free drink with the hotel’s compliments.
It used to be that we’d get inspiration for our holidays from fanciful television advertisements, fascinating documentaries and awe-inspiring guidebooks. Now, the millennial generation is heralding a move to more accessible inspiration: people just like them.
One problem with traditional forms of inspiration has been their lack of accessibility: they are very beautiful, but often prohibitively expensive or hard to reach. The wanderlust an Arctic landscape can inspire is enough to make your heart ache, but that feeling, compounded by the realisation you may never get to visit, can turn to pessimism. This is much less likely to happen when, like 42 per cent of millennials, the holiday photographs posted by your peers on social media are what influence your choice of holiday destination.
Experiences from like-minded friends, of a similar age and background, are more authentic and relatable than guidebooks created by strangers. Moreover, friends can provide real-life, trustworthy reviews. Might we even see the common guidebook die a death, to be replaced by friends’ social media accounts?
Technology by the boatload
One of the report’s most interesting findings in our report aligns with this digital future: 54 per cent of UK millennials would be interested in wearable technology that automatically adjusted their hotel room temperature, in line with their own body temperature. This is about so much more than wanting to keep cool.
Let’s go back to the discovery that 43 per cent of millennials manage their personal life on their smartphone at least once a day. This pocket-sized piece of technology has changed life as we know it. Now, millennials can manage their finances, book holidays and take pictures with just one gadget. It’s extremely convenient, and it is also easy for millennials to stay abreast of the latest technological developments.
With wearables, smartphones and tablets helping to streamline our lives and make holidaying easier, it’s only a matter of time before the travel industry makes the most of them. Intuitive air-con is just the beginning. We are also predicting developments such as drinks-ordering apps (no need to head to the bar), personal translators available via video link, and crowd-sourced city guides incorporating Instagram pictures, tweets and maps from other visitors.
This focus on convenience extends to the booking process. Our Millennial Traveller Report revealed that millennials prefer booking through online travel agents due to the convenience (23 per cent), rather than the security (9 per cent). Similarly, they prefer booking via trusted providers because it’s convenient (18 per cent), rather than secure (13 per cent). Once that booking is made, however, millennials are far less gung-ho than the baby boomers who came before them.
For 46 per cent of UK millennials, safety is a huge consideration when deciding where to go on holiday. In fact, despite many young travellers now travelling alone, 43 per cent of millennials are intimidated by the prospect. This compares to 32 per cent of baby boomers. It makes sense, then, to predict a rise in the number of people heading to destinations with a proven track record for safety.
Take Iceland, a country voted the fourth happiest nation in the world. According to the 2011 Global Study on Homicide by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), between 1999 and 2009, Iceland’s homicide rate never reached more than 1.8 per 100,000 people. Given this, plus the beauty of the country, we wouldn’t be surprised if package holidays in Iceland saw a huge spike in demand.
Experience is everything
It’s clear from our Millennial Traveller Report that, for this generation of holidaymakers, experience is everything: “I want to look at places that are of significance to the country,” Carmen from the UK told us.
Monica, from the USA, stated that, when going away, “I like to find hidden gems.”
In fact, for millennials all over the world, more than half agreed with the statement that, “When I go on holiday, the most important thing for me is to experience the authentic culture of the place.”
Living like a local is clearly of huge consideration to millennials, with many opting to forego the traditional sunbed-and-pool holiday in favour of authenticity. With this in mind, we could see package holidays in Bali, Thailand and other culturally rich destinations, like India, steadily rise in popularity. After all, with such famous cuisines and fascinating heritage, they promise the millennial generation that much-desired “cultural experience.”
Would you like to delve deeper into our Millennial Traveller Report? Click here to read it in full. Or perhaps you have your own thoughts about how the millennial generation could influence the Holiday of the Future? Fill us in on your predictions using the comment box below.