Uncovering the Real Market Opportunities
Millennials are currently the largest population group in the U.S., and they are having a major impact on everything from technology, food, clothing, and yes, the travel industry. Millennials took an average of 5 trips last year, more than any other age group, according to Berkshire Hathaway. They are thrill-seeking adventurists, invested in exploring different cultures, and they create memories through unique experiences. They are expected to surpass baby boomers as the largest generation by 2028 and they will have $200+ billion of spending power.
By now, you already know that this group should be the main focus of your business if you want to thrive. They spent an average of $5,700 on all of their trips throughout the year, compared to $3,300, the average amount spent by baby boomers. Their economics are fairly different due to the burden of student loan debt and their reduced spending power over the years, amongst other things. They also plan to spend less of their budget on a room and more on activities, so you need a good understanding of their values, perceptions and experiences to know how to differentiate your properties and maximize your price according to their unique experiences.
Understanding a new generation’s need for purpose
Millennials feel differently about the world than their parents and grandparents. While previous generations were building individual wealth and caring for their immediate family, society as a whole has been shifting to a more concerned community, locally and globally. Guided by some major health and environmentally-conscious education, we are observing some current trends that guide a lot (if not most) of their life decisions and purchasing behaviors.
Millennials are always on
It’s no surprise that the phone is the most important piece of technology for millennials. When it specifically comes to traveling, mobile phones are their lifeblood. This is where they find new destinations, plan, share, and purchase their trips. 66% of millennials book their trips via smartphone.
How to accommodate millennials in the digital age
It is crucial that your website is mobile friendly by now. Add-ons should be able to be purchased or negotiated over the phone/message, if possible. This group demands real-time information conveniently available at their fingertips and they expect responses to their messages to be very timely. Delayed communication is seen as a huge inconvenience, especially during arrival time.
Smart property managers are taking advantage of this unique group of people and the shift on travel behavior from big hotel chains to smaller, exclusive properties. This means your properties must have a unique feel, and they must provide the perception of an exclusive experience. Property managers have to invest in customer service, acting many times as a concierge, and checking in to make sure their stay translates into a 5-star review, attracting new customers, and bringing repeat business.
Social media is a key-point to discover these properties
Millennials possess an inherent lack of trust in advertising. Because these properties are still considered “alternatives” to mainstream stays, they are highly reliable on reviews. Positive reviews are the best way for you to gain exposure and their business. 97% of them share their vacations via social media. They are marketing for you. Do your properties offer “Instagrammable” spots? Are they photo/video friendly? If one person shares their experiences on social media, their friends will want to follow in their footsteps. Your goal should not only be to inspire your guests, but their friends, as well.
These experiences are not your typical walking tour or bus tour. These are activities designed and organized by locals to give travelers an inside look on what it’s like to live in the area. Ultimately, the majority of millennials feel that shared experiences in which they will remember are more important than any tangible goods they can buy. Maximize their exposure to the locale. This could take the form of a complimentary breakfast (local cuisine is an added benefit) or a pub crawl guided by a local for those leaving the office.
Think about offering discounted group rates and things for them to do that will not break their bank. Rewards points are also frequently used by millennials. If creating a reward system for staying at your properties is a possibility, it may be worth exploring. Not only could booking a property offer reward points, but add-ons, like local experiences could, as well.
A unique experience is not limited to an activity. This could also include the decor of the property. Rather than looking like a generic hotel room, millennials would prefer to stay in a place that accentuates the local culture. Give them an authentic experience, even from the start. Let them walk into the room with some local-exclusive snacks and drinks laid out for them or maybe even a quick,15-minute massage upon arrival.
Stay updated with technology
Millennials thrive on their cell phone and all things internet. Make sure your properties offer high-speed WiFi. An HDTV isn’t enough these days. It needs to be a smart TV with access to streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and more. Other smart devices such as Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, and bluetooth speakers will also help attract millennials. Many millennials stay at vacation rental properties on business trips according to a study published by Hipmunk. Ensure that you have many electrical outlets in functional spaces and make sure half of them are for USB cables.
Climate change is a pressing issue
The question has shifted from, “is your property eco-friendly” to “how eco-friendly is it”? Things like trash recycling, solar panels, and water conservancy are not only money savers for you, but they are well perceived by your travelers. Can you afford to offer a bike as a means of transportation? Are rental bikes and rideshares widely available in the area?
In addition, some locations are known for their activism, so being aware of the potential crowd’s purpose can create a connection that goes beyond just a clean apartment. It may be worth suggesting active organizations nearby that offer eco-friendly activities such as a beach clean up.
Millennials are health-conscious
Superfoods, organic produce, and brain food are on top of last year’s trends. The growth of social media and influencers has also impacted this generation, as they are also more inclined to try different diets, exclude particular foods, and shift habits quickly as they see fit in their lifestyle.
It’s all about the details to really upgrade the experience, here. Create a list of restaurants in the area that you recommend that cater to various dietary options (vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, paleo, keto, etc.). Just for a little context, over 10% of millennials are self-identified vegans. If you offer coffee and sugar, include an organic or healthier option (brown sugar or stevia). These thoughtful extras don’t cost much and they go a long way. Speaking of coffee, a generic coffee maker that only has one drip function isn’t enough. Think about adding a French press, a coffee grinder, or even an espresso machine in your kitchen for this coffee-loving generation.
Millennials stay active
Not only do they care about their diet, they also like to exercise and stay physically fit. Millennials are more active than any other previous generation. 76% of them exercise at least once a week. Do some research and find local hiking trails and gyms in the area to curate a list. If your property has room, an exercise bike/treadmill would be very attractive to millennials, especially those on business trips. Don’t forget things like an exercise ball, yoga mats, dumbbells, and foam rollers!
Millennials travel with a purpose
At whatever stage in life they might be, millennials travel with an intention in mind that is rarely just “visiting a spot”. Some might be looking for peace and introspection, others to drink and have a good time, solo or with family/friends. “Millennial travelers are looking for transformational experiences while they travel,” explains Dean Sivley, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. Millennials don’t necessarily want to do the same things that have been done a thousand times by tourists before them. They even go out of their way to avoid the so-called “tourist traps”.
The new generation of travelers want an experience curated specifically towards their objectives. They handpick your property based on that purpose. It is important that your property feels like a friend’s home instead of a hotel chain (where all bedrooms look alike). Keep in mind that the destination immersion starts with the accommodation they choose.
They are travelers, not tourists
Millennials have varying schedules. They’re all about flexibility. Some want to stay up late and enjoy the nightlife. Others want to get up early to hike or surf. Allowing them to check in at any time is very important to their travel schedule. Millenials are avoiding the cookie-cutter resort experience for true local experiences. This is probably one of the main decision factors for those that pick properties instead of hotels. So think accordingly and make your decor unique, use local art, and bring a little culture inside.