Advances in technology have endorsed the spread of globalization and one of the direct results is that travel has become exponentially cheaper. Because of this, the opportunities to go abroad are numerous and, thus, the American educational system has now accommodated itself to experiential learning. Study abroad programs and gap years are more abundant. Therefore, millennials are the generation that has the largest opportunity to travel. In addition, they have more time and income to spare than prior generations, which makes the “wanderlust” millennial an important market to target. In order to reach this group of millennial travelers, companies must understand their inherent characteristics to promote the type of travel that they want. On the whole, millennials are culturally educated, individualistic, and tech savvy, and they want their traveling experience to reflect that.
The level of cultural education that the average millennial now receives continues to increase correspondingly with globalization, which heavily influences their traveling tastes. At the university level, degrees such as international business or relations are more prominent; moreover, there are more language requirements to graduate at a university. Therefore, when traveling, these millennials expect to experience the culture that they were educated about. In a study, 86% of traveling millennials say that they want to experience a new culture when traveling.1 Thus, millennials prefer a more immersive and experiential travel experience rather than the generation prior, who preferred a relaxing beach as the vacation spot.
As millennials are more likely to be married later in their lives, they currently lead more individualistic lives.2 They also want their travel to echo this, desiring an unique experience that is not tailored to the cookie-cutter tourists of the world. Two-thirds of millennials value unique experiences while traveling, compared with 50% of older age groups. They want more of an authentic and rugged experience-one in which no one else has ever had before.
Millennials are culturally educated and individualistic, but far more than any other older generation, millennials are tech savvy. This transfers over to their whole traveling process. To start, 87% of traveling millennials are looking at social media for travel inspiration. This is why travelers, such as Murad Osmann, have about 5 million followers on Instagram. He, for example, glamorizes travel with his photography skills to further instill wanderlust. Moreover, technology must be involved while millennials are traveling, as they are apt to chronicle their travels digitally for their friends to see.4 In short, technology plays a pivotal role for in all aspects of traveling for millennials.
With these characteristics in mind, companies can begin to attract this niche. Tech companies are pushing themselves to directly foster the specific travel that millennials want. For example, Couchsurfing International Inc. operates an app that provides a platform for travelers to stay as a guest at a local’s home. Between the two parties, there is no monetary exchange, just the expectation that both will act courteously. This provides an immersive experience to the traveler as they get a local taste rather than an obvious extrapolation of the culture that is built solely for tourists. In addition, this app provides an individualistic experience where the traveler feels like they are on their own adventure, not lodged in a hotel along with 50 other travelers. This app allows an experience that is rugged, adventurous, and genuine, which entices millennial travelers.
Moreover, some companies are recognizing these market trends and promoting their product by associated it with travel-even if it is completely unrelated. We see the example of Barnie’s Coffee and Tea doing just this in the picture below. They have accompanied a map, a camera, postcards, and pictures to accompany with their coffee in order to give off the aura that this coffee is associated with travel, appealing to the traveling millennials. Marketing your product as exotic or travel inclined makes a product automatically sexier for these millennials.
Since the world of travel has changed immensely, travel opportunities are numerous; millennials, with their spare time and cash, are willing and able to grab hold of these opportunities. By 2020, millennials are on track to spend $1.4 trillion dollars each year.5 So companies who can hone in on attracting this group will be extremely profitable in the upcoming years.