These brands understand that millennials — generally defined as people born between 1982 and 2000 — are changing the travel industry one trip at a time. So they’re thinking more creatively about how they relate to this generation of jet-setters who crave experiences over things.
As the first generation of digital natives eclipses baby boomers in population, it’s critical for travel marketers to know millennials and what technology, channels, and experiences resonate with them. The challenge is to reach them in a way that does more than market to them, but instead truly speaks to their experiential sensibilities.
"By 2020, millennials will control $7 trillion in liquid assets."— U.S. Census Bureau Data
“There’s great value in taking time to understand millennials now rather than later. Millennial interests aren’t exclusively unique to this demographic alone. Over time, we’re seeing other demographics develop a millennial mindset with similar interests and expectations.”
head of T&H industry strategy and marketing, Adobe
"70% of millennials would rather spend money on experiences than things."— ADI US Working Millennial 2017 Survey
Travel brands have tremendous opportunities to channel the inherently experiential and adventurous nature of travel, crafting experiences that will resonate with this generation. They just need to embrace the millennial mindset in a way that feels authentic.
“Millennials reject anything that feels like corporate marketing, and they've pushed us all in how we guide our brand experience.”
VP of global marketing, Marriott International
“This generation takes control of what they want. They want to see what they’re getting —transparency is critical. They want seamless and convenient experiences across devices and content,” says Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst for Adobe Digital Insights.
Millennials’ trips are experienced vicariously by their network, which offers the traveler real-time commentary, questions, and ideas. And it offers travel brands a way to engage with travelers as a natural fit within their network.
Travel brands can integrate social media into their marketing strategy, channeling the natural strengths of programmatic advertising in this realm: it’s automated, transparent, data-driven, and effective. And in the travel realm, it not only plays a part during the journey itself, but it has a major influence in others’ planning stages.
Video is another way to speak their native tongue. Animoto reports that 70 percent of millennials watch videos when shopping online, and they’re 2.5 times more likely to share videos than other age groups. And according to eMarketer, travel-industry video ads tend to have a higher completion rate compared to other industries.
While wearing the headsets, guests choose from multiple “VR Postcard” options to experience 360-degree video footage and sounds from the Andes Mountains, the streets of Beijing, and even an ice cream shop in Rwanda.
“Travel expands our minds and helps push our imagination,” said Matthew Carroll, vice president at Marriott Hotels. “Our guests want to be in inventive spaces that help foster their creativity and thinking. VRoom combines storytelling with technology, two things that are important to next generation travelers.”
By building a holistic view of millennial customers, embracing their increased prominence, and delivering content and experiences that matter to them, travel marketers can have a fun adventure themselves — right alongside their millennial traveler friends.
Age, July 24, 2015.
Pete Kluge and Megan Estrada, “DCO: Programmatic’s Evolution from Ads to Experiences,” 2017 Adobe Summit .
Stephanie Overby, “MGM Resorts’ Tomovich: There’s No Substitute for Experience,” CMO.com, March 6, 2017
Tamara Gaffney, personal interview, April 24, 2017.
Yory Wurmser, “US Millennial Shoppers 2017: How a Digitally Native Generation is Changing Retail,” eMarketer, January 2017.