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It may be the year of the horse in the Chinese Zodiac, but in the travel industry, 2014 should probably be marked as the year of the local. Mass travel is out, and local, personalized experiences are in. Destination campaigns that emphasize local travel like Visit Philadelphia and “London and Beyond” have already been wildly successful.
Who is driving this trend in travel? Millennials, of course – those who were born in the early 1980s – 2000s. Is your tourism business ready for the Millienials? Let’s start by looking at a few key features of this generation, as reported in this extensive study about Millennial travelers, & some ways tourism marketers can reach this key demographic.
Are you familiar with the next generation of travelers?
They are tech savvy. This almost goes without saying. Having grown up in a digital age, Millennials are now heavily tech-dependent. They consume information on a rapid and almost constant basis. In terms of travel, this means they book trips faster and, in turn, often share their own travel experiences in real time.
They are good citizens. Nearly half of Millennials show more interest in destinations that offer volunteering opportunities. Moreover, compared with the people over 30 years old, Millennials are more willing to engage in sustainable practices and care more about environmental issues.
They like to learn. Travel isn’t just about fun with this generation. Millennials are attracted to authentic destinations where they have the opportunity to learn something new. They also prefer hands-on, interactive experiences.
They are spontaneous. Many airlines and hotels have begun offering last-minute online travel deals targeted at digitally savvy Millennial travelers. A host of apps like Jetsetter and NextFlight have emerged to help travelers find a flight or a hotel on a whim.
They rely on word-of-mouth recommendations. 8 out of 10 travelers say they are likely to trust the recommendations of a family member or friend via social media when it comes to travel. However, more and more recent studies tend to report that travelers trust reviews from peer reviews and strangers more than those from friends or colleagues.
What does this mean for your business or destination?
All of this is great news for sustainable and community-based destinations. And it’s a call to action for all destinations to begin focusing on more authentic experiences. Here are some things every destination can do to help reach this desirable group of travelers:
By far the best brand ambassadors of any destination are the people who live there, work there, and just love being there. Collaboration with local residents in destination marketing yields enormous results. Millennialls flock to this type of information because it’s authentic, insider information that stands out in a sea of mundane reviews. Millennials want to travel like locals, and there is no better way to do that than by connecting them with the local people of a destination.
Facilitate Relationship Building
All travelers want to feel special and welcome. It’s no different with Millennials. By making them feel welcome before they even touch down in a destination, you’ll already be establishing a positive experience. Visit a Swede is one great example of this relational marketing. The website aims to connect visitors with a local Swede before they even arrive in country. It’s takes the idea of involving locals to a whole new level – by promoting them as tour guides, coffee buddies, dinner hosts, and so much more. Bewelcome has also opened up channels of communication between the locals and the visitors.
The last takeaway is the most encouraging: focus more on authenticity. The best part is that this is also the easiest lesson! Instead of focusing on what your destination lacks, you should find ways to celebrate what it has. You might be surprised by the response to some honest marketing that highlights the unique or quirky about your destination. Not every desirable destination has to have sunshine and beaches. Millennials are open to learning & relish new opportunities so don’t be afraid to embrace the off-the-beaten places within your destination.