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Meeting the Millenial Challenge: Steve Lima from G Adventures Explores How They’re Striving to Meet this Market’s Needs

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Editor’s Note: This is a Q&A conducted by ATTA with Steve Lima, Marketing Manager, USA for G Adventures around their strategies with the Millenial generation for their new line of YOLO trips.

What percentage of your customer base falls into the millennial category and what growth do you expect in this market in the next 5 years?

Steve:  Millennials are now out-numbering the boomer market at 79 million to 76 Million in the USA.  They’ve become G Adventures’ greatest ambassadors through their reach and accessibility of social media. Online communities have allowed this segment to amplify their voices and views to tens of thousands at a time with a single post.  Having seven Travel Styles covering seven continents enables G Adventures to cater to a wide range of travelers’ interests. We’re focusing on the Millennial clients as this audience is growing in the USA and naturally fits our ever-growing range of small group products.  This segment represents roughly 20 percent of our customers in the USA. As a result we’ve expanded our line of YOLO trips, popular with the 18-30 somethings, across the globe with the aim of continuing to attract this audience. These trips are designed for the young, budget-minded traveler looking to avoid the big bus tours to get an inside look at the destination.

You’ve mentioned that your ‘Comfort’ line of trips is targeted towards Boomers and that your YOLO trips are designed specifically for millenial travelers. What are the main difference between these two types of trips? What does G Adventures see the Millenial Traveler desiring?

Steve: Age is just a number; how you travel is a state of mind. Some clients desire upgraded accommodations with a few extra frills, a softer landing and lower activity levels. That’s okay, we dig that and that’s why we designed our Comfort line up of trips. Some Millenials will want an upgraded experience as well, but we’ve noticed most are looking for unique, immersive and culturally-rich activities that let them get up close and personal with a destination. They don’t want a cookie-cutter, monument visit after museum visit trip… they want freedom and spontaneity mixed into the itinerary giving them an unscripted adventure. We encourage our CEOs, Chief Experience Officers, to uncover exciting ways to explore a region. Whether it’s visiting a local pub in London, spearfishing with Aborigines in Australia, or swimming through ‘Shark Alley’ in the Galapagos; it just goes to show that adventure means something different to everyone. Earth’s a big place; we’re here to help clients explore it any way they want.

How do you advertise and communicate differently to millenials? What channels are important? Are they booking trips on different channels or in different cycles than other travelers, or is the sales cycle consistent with your traditional customers?

On average, millennials will check 10.2 sources before booking. Such sources include Trip Advisor and Yelp. Millennials will often look up reviews in real-time on their mobile devices while they are deciding where to eat or stay, right before the eat or stay there.  We see these clients reading our posts and asking questions of past passengers.  They want to read reviews and hear from their friends and peers… not just us.  We also host a very active Blog called Looptail.  This blog rarely sells trips directly or pushes promotions but instead highlights the travels of our passengers and our Wanderers in Residence.  We have an amazing video team capturing the amazing things happening on this big blue planet.  We share videos on our social networks and blog.  Like this one, Your Planet in 7 Seconds – sharing 7 second video clips of real passengers experiencing our trips.

How do you approach advertising based on what is important to millenials, as well as how they integrate and view social media in their lives?

They consider themselves faster adopters and leverage mobile devices to socialize, research and purchase from their favorite brands.  Social media isn’t just a communication platform; it’s a part of their identity. Their desire for connection and shared experiences extend beyond their Facebook walls.  They like to engage in group activities when shopping, dining, and traveling.  Ninety-five percent  of Millennials say that friends are the most credible source of product information.  At G Adventures we’ve grown to over one million fans on Facebook and it’s been our greatest medium to attract this growing segment.  Forty-eight percent of Millennials say word-of-mouth influences their product purchases more than TV ads. They constantly post, comment and engage with our brand online.  While sharing G content among their communities we’re noticing an increasing amount of fans join our community.  Through peer reviews, blog content and fun interactive culture we’re attracting new millennial buyers.

How do you offer a quality G Adventures experience for millenials but at a budget cost? Specifically, what is it that is most important to them but actually isn’t expensive to offer?
At G we offer No Single Supplement, and with a good portion of our Millenial clients traveling by themselves it offers them a feasible, no hassle way to travel for the same great rate as couples.  They aren’t punished for wanting to explore solo and we’re able to pair them up with a same sex roommate in their accommodations.  In addition if clients are looking for a bit more privacy  they can upgrade their experience with our My Own Room option which are quite reasonable.  I’d have to say one of our greatest value adds on our YOLO trips (and other tours as well) are how our Local CEO, Chief Experience Officers,  are given the freedom and flexibility to get clients off the beaten track.  Millienals are looking for something more than a mere vacation.  They want to embrace the unexpected and make connections among the locals.  Our CEOS often venture out to find local events, parades, festivals and other culturally enriched actives that create an unscripted adventure.

About Steve Lima Steve was born and raised in Rhode Island, graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, and worked in the travel industry for 10 years with a focus in Marketing ranging from Online, Email, Direct Mail and Co-op partnership marketing.

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