Millennials are one of the largest generations in history (larger, even, than the baby boomers)—and they're entering their prime spending years. Born between 1982 and 1999, millennials were raised on the Internet, fostering a global awareness and an inherent interest in travel. But what are these young travelers looking for? The Millennial Traveler Report conducted by Expedia and Future Foundation discovered a few key generational characteristics.
1. Cliché is a crime.
While the search for authentic travel isn't new, the definition of what counts as authentic certainly varies among generations. The report found that millennials have a very strong perception of what "authentic" entails. For many young travelers, the point of visiting another place is to explore and learn about a world they're unfamiliar with. Milllennals value cultural appreciation, "living like a local," hidden gems and originality. As far as itineraries go ... it's about balancing the iconic with experiences that are a bit more off the beaten track.
2. They "like" what they see.
When choosing a travel destination, 42 percent of millennials say that travel photos posted by their contacts on social media influence their own destination decisions. And it's more than their own private networks—they explore the wider web. Many millennials collect images and ideas online as a form of entertainment, posting their favorites on sites such as Pinterest. So, what destinations and experiences are millennials looking for? Just ask 'em.
3. Expertise isn't off the map!
Peers are influential because they're relatable, but the sheer number of peer-led accounts can become either overwhelming or contradictory. As such, millennials consult a number of sources for their travel inquiries. According to the report:
- 61 percent consult industry experts, including travel agents, travel providers and expert opinion websites.
- 52 percent consult fellow consumers on review sites, blogs and travel forums.
- 50 percent consult close contacts, such as friends, family and social network connections.
4. Who's in control here?
The report found that 43 percent of millennials manage their personal lives on a smartphone at least once a day. Access to the Internet while traveling is important, and travel apps could help shape itineraries.
5. They value safety.
Millennials might be willing to step out of their comfort zone in search of authentic travel experiences, but they're still concerned for their personal safety. While all generations value safety, the report found that concern is generally higher among millennials than previous generations.
6. Group travel might just be the answer.
Speaking of safety ... there's safety in numbers. Of millennials, 43 percent are intimidated by traveling alone. Millennials also harbor a strong need for independence, however. Group travel allows younger travelers to travel solo—but with the safety net of a larger group and the sweet assurance of a tour operator, should something go awry.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.