In 2018, travel and tourism was a ~$1.5 trillion industry.
By 2028, it's projected to grow to $2.4 trillion. And a good chunk of those contributing to those trillions are Millennials--a group that has now become the largest generation of travelers. In fact, Millennials (aged ~21-38 in 2019) now represent $50 billion worth of travel consumerism in the U.S. alone.
So what are the biggest things Millennials want when it comes to travel? Valentino Danchev, founder and CEO of travel marketing firm Fidelis Marketing Group, says there are a few standout things:
Millennials prefer authentic experiences over perfectly curated, manicured ones. According to Danchev, Millennials want "boutique travel experiences that will transform them from the inside out."
In other words, they don't just want to hang out all day by the pool. They want transformational travel--the chance to learn, grow, and explore. They like experiencing local culture in as real a way as possible, so facilitate ways they can do that. Prioritize interactive experiences over passive ones--for example, a small, hands-on cooking class with a local person instead of a day trip to the most famous museum in town.
Don't be shy about protecting the environment, either. Millennials are the most environmentally-conscious generation in recent history--a full 73 percent are willing to spend more on sustainable goods (as opposed to 66 percent of non-Millennials).
So be green, and then don't keep it a secret. Make it part of your marketing. Fidelis's own Grand Luxxe resorts in Mexico, for example, have received a Distinction "S" recognition for environmental sustainability from UNWTO, EarthCheck, and the Rainforest Alliance.
When looking at what to highlight, don't focus solely on your amenities. Yes, of course you want to show off your beautiful pool--but be creative in the activities you offer and show people enjoying, because those will often be equally as important to Millennials.
Danchev suggests courses or other immersive activities in fields like art, fitness, or entertainment. Think a craft beer-making workshop in Europe; a wine-and-painting night on the roof of your hotel where guests get to meet one another; a yoga class on standup paddleboards. You could also liaise with a local volunteer site to give travelers the chance to volunteer for a half- or full-day (being on a build site for Habitat for Humanity, for example).
If I have a question for a company, I'd much rather ask them via their latest Instagram post than scour their site for contact info. I myself used to be the social media coordinator for a large company and know that not only can social media be an efficient way to get ahold of someone, but I'm probably going to reach someone like me, which is appealing.
According to Danchev, you must have a high-quality website if you want to compete for the trillions of travel dollars up for grabs, and you want to back it up with high-quality social media. Statistics back up his recommendation: 62 percent of Millennials are more likely to be loyal to a brand with an interactive social media presence.
If you don't have a social media presence, consider having a chat feature on your website to field questions. You'd be surprised at how many more interactions you'll get that way than waiting for Millennials to email or call you.
In the end, generational distinctions like Millennials and GenX are arbitrary. Remember that people are people, and people love to travel. Remember to enjoy the journey yourself, and that will come across in your marketing.
"Traveling - it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." - Ibn Battuta