How our adult children look at travel

TheTravelPro is written with my fellow Baby Boomers, our travel habits and travel preferences in mind. Still, an email from the firm Internet Marketing, Inc., caught my attention. The subject line said, “Millennial travel: a look at the largest generation’s habits.”

While the materials provided were aimed at travel and hospitality providers and intended to help them attract more millennials, they contained some interesting information about how those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s plan their travel, what attracts them, and what keeps them loyal to certain purveyors. Many of us have adult children who are millennials, so I read on.

The single biggest thing that sets the millennial generation apart from Gen-X, the Boomers and the Greatest Generation is technology. Millennials have literally grown up with it. In the early ’80s, cell phones were big, clunky and expensive. Most were mounted in cars and those that weren’t were the size of a lunch box. By the early 2000s, cell phones small enough to fit in your pocket were ubiquitous.

Today, mere cell phones have given way to smartphones and most millennials carry one, just like they carry a purse or wallet. And they have become as indispensable as a purse or wallet.

Then there’s the internet. Although its roots date back to the 1960s, it didn’t begin reaching the average person until the late 1980s but when it did, it exploded. Remember AOL and dial-up connections? Most millennials don’t; they’re used to Wi-Fi, high-speed connections via cable or satellite, and data plans on their smartphones that enable them to stay constantly connected.

That appears to be the crux of the matter: connectivity. And millennials are connected.

According to the marketing firm, social media plays a pivotal role in how the millennial traveler makes their decisions. In fact, 87 percent are looking at Facebook for travel inspiration, it said.

The firm also noted that 85 percent of millennials check multiple sites before booking their travel to get the best deal possible. Once they have decided, 46 percent book travel through a smartphone or tablet, as travel apps have become the millennials’ preferred method of interacting with brands.

We have three sons who are millennials. Two travel a fair bit for work, while the third travels extensively when it’s time for some R&R. I asked for their perspective on the information proffered in the infographic at right and the reaction I received indicated that the marketing firm’s take was pretty well spot on, especially the parts focusing on the importance of mobile.

While they are traveling, they WILL post their experiences on social media. In fact, 97 percent will post while traveling, and 75 percent will post once a day, according to the firm’s data. Not surprisingly, some 86 percent said they were “disappointed” by bad mobile experiences.

“My generation does everything on their phone - so they'll tend to gravitate towards those brands that have a superior mobile experience,” one son said, adding that he also agreed with the subtext of many of the points: millennials care less about service and more about convenience.

According to the data, millennials as a group are also concerned about having a quality travel experience. A full 60 percent will upgrade their travel experience by purchasing in-flight Wi-Fi, early deplaning, and other add-ons.

“It mentions [that millennials are] more likely to pay for premium services, but the fine print indicates (to me) that it’s more about convenience (curb side check, luggage tracking, etc.) - it's all about making everything as easy and quick as possible - with as little human interaction as possible,” he said.

Inclined to go for the best deal, millennials will embrace loyalty programs and remain loyal to those programs that offer the most in terms of cash or freebies, upgrades and discounts.

“I personally care a lot about loyalty - I'll make travel decisions based on loyalty programs. But I’m not sure other millennials are like that,” one said. “I do think we're all price conscious and looking for a deal, so in that sense loyalty is important, as it can often mean the best deal.”

Other interesting factoids: Millennials travel abroad more than past generations. They prefer to travel to learn something new. They are prone to taking last minute trips to satisfy sudden wanderlust. And they want the world to believe their travels are the most important travels ever.

Look for your favorite millennial and his or her travel experiences coming soon to a Facebook page near you.

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Inforgraphic provided by Internet Marketing, Inc.
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