Everyone always says the youth are the future, but in the travel world millennials are the present. No group has a bigger affect on trends and industry behaviour than youthful travelers.

Millennials, or Generation Y, are the young pioneers of the world and fall approximately between the ages of 15 and 35.

They are the group that all hotels need to focus on because they are the consumers that are at the head of every new development.

For them, travel is something they use to expand their identity; learn about themselves and grow as a person.

A study by FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in millennial trends, and Barkley, an integrated marketing and ad agency, has uncovered a wealth of great insights about millennials and how they will influence the distribution strategies of your small hotel or B&B.

Millennials make up 70% of all hotel guests and are more likely to take a holiday than any other generation so the value of their market speaks for itself.

Here are the most important insights the study revealed:

1. Millennials Are Agile Travelers

Due to their youth, millennials are an extremely adaptable and flexible group who have many different motivations for their behaviour:

  • They’re just as likely to stick to traditional travel as they are to explore outside their comfort zone.
  • They love sharing their experiences on social media but also spend a lot of time embracing a ‘live in the moment’ attitude.
  • Brand loyalty is not as important to them, rather they base their decisions on what they want out of their next adventure.

Key Statistic:
55% of millennials agree that travel is all about discovery and adventure.

2. Millennials Covet Experiences

A quarter of millennials would rather spend money on an experience instead of a product. They view traveling as a significant part of their personal development, so they want more from a trip than fluffy towels or a balanced tan. Immersive, interactive opportunities are what catches their eye most commonly.
Millennials also treat food as part of this, with nearly three quarters seeking unique restaurants and dining experiences when deciding where to travel.

Key Statistic:
70% of millennials want to explore and learn from the communities they visit.

3. Millennials Are Digitally Native

Young travelers have been raised and grown up in a very connected world, with high speed internet and smartphones. This has resulted in an intense need for connectivity when they travel, assuming digital tools to be as essential as food and shelter. They view technology as a vital enhancement to the efficiency and convenience of their experience throughout the entire buying and traveling stage.

Key Statistic:
90% of millennials have researched travel on a laptop/ desktop computer, 74% have used their smartphone/ tablet and 62% have used only a smartphone.

4. Millennials Are Day Traders

Loyalty and brand recognition is not much of a consideration for millennials. They will spend their budget based on what they can experience – for example they may book a cheaper hotel so they can afford a local cooking class. They research thoroughly to make the most of the funds they have available. This willingness and confidence is the driving force behind the “travel hacking” trend, where millennials use every means at their disposal to find the best and alternative options for their trip.

Key Statistic:
Millennials check an average of 10 sources before making travel purchases to make sure they pay as little as possible.

5. Millennials Are Spontaneous

Unlike older generations, millennials aren’t as worried about planning trips down to the very last detail. While they want to control their own circumstances, they’re not averse to making impromptu decisions. Millennials are boosting trends like the stay-cation and microadventure but it may not be all due to their free spirit. Over 40% of millennials believe it’s hard to take along vacation because they’re too committed to their jobs. They don’t want to seem replaceable or unengaged.

Key Statistic:
Weekend trips make up almost half of all millennial vacations.

6. Millennials Seek Validation Via Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat rule the roost for millennials who operate on the notion that anything worth doing is also worth sharing, and if they don’t share it to receive likes and comments it feels less meaningful. 75% of millennials post to social networks at least once per day and they treat social posts as a kind of currency that builds and establishes their identity.

Key Statistic:
43% of millennials said that the comments and ‘likes’ they receive from social media are as important or more important than a trip itself.

Millennials are also affecting the behaviour of other generational travelers, influencing older family and friends to become more connected and more active on social media, encouraging them to undertake the same actions millennials themselves do.

FutureCast and Barkley’s report indicated that nearly 50% of a brands performance is influenced by millennial characteristics, meaning the market has to evolve in turn.

Small accommodation providers need to be just as adaptable if they want to keep up within the industry. Your focus should be placed on gaining customer and competition insights.

millennial distribution

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).