How Online Travel Agents can appeal to millennial travellers

Millennials are officially the largest generation in history. And with their increasing purchasing power, millennials are a gold mine for the travel industry. For online travel agents, the key to staying competitive and maximising revenue on this maturing generation of travellers is adapting everything from their content and communication style to the travel experience itself.

But how exactly should online travel agents cater to this restless generation of individualists? Read on to find out.

Characteristics of the millennial traveller

When we talk about Millennials (also known as Generation Y), we are normally referring to people born between the years 1980 and 1994. From a consumer perspective, research tells us that millennials will be the strongest generation globally in 2020.

Millennials are restless individualists that expect to get good treatment. In general, millennials embrace change and dare to take on new challenges and try new experiences. Sustainability and living a healthy life are strongly valued—so much so in fact that, in many situations, millennials will not invest in a brand that fails to clearly contribute to sustainability in a positive way or have a clear strategy for improvement.

Compared to Gen X and baby boomers, millennials love to travel. Travelling is viewed more as a necessity than a luxury. They are not price-sensitive and are willing to pay for quality.

What do millennial travellers expect?

  • View travel as a means of self-discovery and building new relationships
  • Like to combine work and leisure = Workcation!
  • Love authentic experiences built around food and drinks
  • Like having the flexibility to change plans or the content of a travel experience
  • Prefer more frequent travels over longer vacations in the same location
  • Are increasingly interested in domestic travel

How can OTAs connect better with millennial travellers?

Build trust and be transparent

Online travel agents can build trust among millennial travellers by sharing relevant content and featuring references and good reviews. It’s also important to present offerings in a clear, authentic, and personal way. Traditional marketing methods such as magazine ads and direct mail campaigns are less effective on this connection-seeking, information-consuming generation. Millennials want to participate in the discovery process, and gather inspiration by browsing travel-related content online. An honest and inspirational blogpost can take online travel agents far when it comes to building a stronger relationship with millennials.

Start the conversation—then listen!

Another way online travel agents can connect with millennial customers is by being accessible for dialogue via different online channels including social media. Ask for feedback and let both existing and potential millennial customers participate in creating the actual offering that they are supposed to buy. Also, be aware of the power of reviews and recommendations. Millennials are highly influenced by authentic recommendations, especially they come from friends or other people they admire and trust. Online travel agents can leverage this fact by encouraging and incentivising happy customers to document and spread the news of their positive experiences.

Be mobile-first

Mobile-friendly technology is a no-brainer for online travel agents who want to engage millennials. Always connected, this generation uses the smartphone as their tool of choice for nearly everything—including searching for inspiration, making travel plans and booking trips. Online travel agents should make sure that their website and social media content are optimised for mobile viewing and interaction. And make sure the user experience is seamless—Millennials will move on quickly if a digital experience is overly complex or glitchy.

Offer personalised travel experiences

Millennials prize freedom highly, and prefer having a wide variety of options to choose from. They also value quality service and exclusively tailored experiences. Rather than offering up the usual pre-packaged travel offerings, online travel agents should focus on creating personalised offers and “Instagrammable” VIP experiences. And be sure to leave plenty of room for spontaneity. Millennials dislike rigidity or airtight plans. Rather, they prefer having the opportunity to explore and discover new experiences and adventures on their own.

Share stories of transformation

While Millennials don’t shy away from luxury, travel serves a deeper purpose than an indulgent escape. With this generation, travel is viewed more as a vehicle for change. They don’t merely want to relax, view the sights, and buy souvenirs. Millennials want travel to mean something. They want to explore freely, feel deeply, grow and tap into a greater sense of fulfilment. Online travel agents can connect with this desire for transformation and self-actualisation by sharing inspirational stories and imagery featuring off-the-beaten-track travel experiences and authentic, life-changing moments.