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Expedia, the online travel company, has compiled data on the key lessons marketers can learn about how millennials travel.
It compared millennials (defined as people born between 1982 and 1999) to generation x (1961-1981) and baby-boomers (1945-1960.)
Some of the findings do not reflect very well on youthful travelers.
Millennial backpackers are getting less adventurous and more vain.
Almost half (43%) of millennials said that whether people comment on their vacation photos is as important or more important than experiencing the authentic culture of the destination. This compares with just 16% of baby-boomers.
While 43% of millennials are intimidated by the prospect of solo travel, just 32% of baby-boomers say they feel the same.
Expedia compiled the report with the help of the Future Foundation – a global consumer trends and forecasting consultancy. A sample of 1,000 consumers per country aged between 18 – 64 in the UK, Germany, France, USA, China, Australia, Brazil and South Korea answered the questionnaire in March of this year.
We spoke to Gary Morrison, senior vice president and head of retail at Expedia, who explained what the results of the report mean for marketers trying to reach millennials.
Millennials are afraid to take risks:
Solo-travel has forever been the ultimate travel experience. Without friends, partners, or family to hold you back, you are able to more fully-immerse yourself in a foreign culture. But we’re doing it a lot less, according to Expedia’s research. Does this mean we are getting less adventurous?
Morrison explained: “I think it’s not that we’re getting less adventurous but a sense of risk aversion is growing. The sense that ‘I need to know that it’s going to be authentic, I need to know that people are going to look favorably on it.'”
He added: “A lot of people enjoy travel as an experience of discovery. It’s really the not knowing, the exploration, the finding on the fly [that for them makes traveling enjoyable,] but this particular cohort [millennials] seem to be different. It seems to be wanting to be as informed as possible before they go the destination.”
Morrison said that this is why Expedia is investing in virtual reality (VR.) In this way, consumers are able to experience the destination before they travel and they can make the ultimate informed decision. Here’s one way Expedia is using VR:
The Expedia VP dismissed the idea that VR may one day replace travel altogether: “People will always want to have the experience. The sensation of warm sun on my flesh cannot be replicated by virtual reality.”
Millennials are much happier to give away data in return for convenience:
Morrison explained that millennials look for help in overcoming “choice paralysis” when looking at where to go on vacation. This means they are willing to give up personal data in return for “relevant” and “accurate” advice.
Carmen, a millennial respondent to the Expedia study from the UK, said: “I am interested in personalized travel … however what they are offering needs to be so unique and not doable from my own research into the country…”
Many Millennials are more interested in curating a positive online image than in having an “authentic” experience:
Social media is obviously very important to millennials, so much so that it is greatly influencing are vacation choices.
Morrison talked about the importance of being a part of every conversation online.
“We are starting to invest in content creation, getting travel journalists to write informative, authoritative, fresh, relevant articles from different locations around the world. The more we are able to do that, the more they trust the content,” Morrison said.
Out of the findings in the report Morrison was most surprised by was “the degree to which my choice of where I want to go and what I want to do is informed by how other people will rate it.”
But he said travel companies are adapting as millennials become more fearful of the unknown, and more concerned with their online image.