For a long time, the travel industry has focused the majority of its attention on reaching older demographics. We have assumed that those most likely to need the services of a travel agent are older individuals who have an established career that offers ample vacation time or are retired. However, recent studies show that millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, actually account for 16 percent of all American travelers and are the driving force behind growth in the travel industry. But how do we reach this demographic of younger travelers? Here are three tips for independent travel agents marketing to millennial clients:
Social media is one of the key influencers on travel interest. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, aren’t all outfit inspiration and animal videos. In fact, social media is the prime source for millennials seeking travel inspiration. Millennials are more likely to pick a travel destination or activity from something a peer posted online over an advertisement. How can travel agents use this to reach millennial clients? Be engaged on social media platforms. Regularly post pictures and interesting travel facts on Facebook and Instagram. Maintain a blog and share links to it on Twitter and Pinterest. Instead of looking at social media as a platform to make a sale, consider it a way to engage in dialogue and connect with potential millennial clients.
Think off the beaten path of traditional travel. Millennials are looking for unique and unfamiliar experiences when they travel. According to Expedia, 86 percent of millennials travel to experience new cultures. Most aren’t looking to stay in a big chain hotel and visit the most popular tourist attractions. Instead, they want to take a trip that lets them see a destination through the eyes of a local. What can travel agents do to offer this experience travel to millennials? Study lesser-known destinations and attractions. Offer to share, or hand over, the reigns when it comes to planning daily travel activities. Connect millennial travelers with a local tour guide once they arrive at their destination. Show these potential clients that you understand their travel needs and offer unique, trustworthy information that they wouldn’t find online.
Work with a different set of concerns and restrictions. Travel restrictions and concerns for millennials are often much different than they are for older generations. For example, while budget is still a key concern, length of travel is often a bigger concern than cost, since many millennials haven’t accumulated as much vacation time as a more seasoned professional who’s been with their company for years. Also, keep in mind that this demographic tends to book more last minute vacations and travel than older generations. How can travel agents cater to these concerns? Offer last minute deals and discounts that encourage spur of the moment decisions. Market more weekend trips that require less time off work. Be flexible and authentic and show millennials you understand their travel limitations and are able to work around them.
Once we reconsider how we reach new millennial clients, connecting with this younger generation of travelers can offer great success and build lifelong partnerships between travel agent and traveler.