Communication, Technology and Travel: The Leisure travelling Millennials. Written by Melissa Gaffney

Millennials have become a hot topic for discussion and debate within multiple academic disciplines, with an approach to understanding the modern millennial. In the simpliest of definitions, the millennial can be defined at those born between 1980 and 2000 (Garikapati et al, 2015). However, when looking deeper into millennial definitions and studies, researchers tend to sub-categorise millennials to gain an understanding that can be applied less broadly. An example of this can be the demographic split in millennials; those born between 1988-1994 are referred to as ‘younger millennials’ and those born between 1979-1985 are older millennials.

A Quick Guide to Generations (3 Man Factory, 2016)

Firstly it may benefit the reader to explore the concept of segmentation and generation segmentation. The underlying principle of market segmentation is the process of grouping similar customers together (Blois and Dibb, 2000). This works together with segmentation, targeting and positioning. Segmentation identifies customers that can be grouped together, in this case generations; the targeting stage reflects on the segment chosen and how best to begin positioning with marketing programmes that should position the product or service directly at the targeted customer (Blois and Dibb, 2000).

From the diagram below, it shows statistics behind who millennials are. There are 5 perceived factors that make millennials unique; technological ability, music and play culture being a part of their belief system; libertarian and tolerance shapes how millennials take more of an interest in political happens, with 64% of millennials voted in the recent EU referendum, almost double the expected amount (36% was the estimated turn out figure) whereas 90% of Baby Boomers voted. (Helm, 2016). Millennials are perceived as intelligent with admissions to universities increasingly on the rise, however as is a sense of regret from millennials. Research conducted by Aviva found that 1/3 felt they could have secured their career without a degree and the financial costs post-university are excessively high (Aviva, 2016). Finally, millennials are unique in the way they consider fashion and clothing important (Require Consultancy, 2016).

Who are the Millennials (Require Consultancy, 2016).

Each generation has unique expectations, experiences, generational history, lifestyle values and demographics that can influence their behaviour (Williams and Page, 2011). Not every generation is the same and for marketers in particular, it is thought that they should not be treated in the same way. By understanding the different characteristics and behaviours of different generations, the relationship building process becomes easier and brands can build trust with customers.

Whereas ‘older millennials’ do display certain tendencies to behave similarly to the prior generation; ‘young millennials’ do not display strong loyalty to brands. Although, millennials are open to loyalty schemes, with a high percentage of those asked choosing to join a loyalty scheme if it is free, easy to use and produced quick benefits (Media Reach UK, 2016).

Millennials in the UK (Media Reach UK, 2016).

The characteristic of the ‘young’ millennial is that they are technologically savvy, have a tendency to be more social and want design to reflect togetherness, whereas older generations are less likely to adopt to new trends and methods of communication (Media Reach UK, 2016).

As highlighted above, the need to segment millennials is something mirrored to further understand the behaviours, which can be used to market those segmentations (Lee, 2014). A further segmentation explores leisure travellers v business travellers. Focusing on this particular segment of travellers, it allows marketers to understand who they are specifically advertising to. In particular, millennial travellers are based on income level and the stage of life they are in (Lee, 2014). These indicators can include; relationship status, financial spending, children and the number of holiday days they have (Lee, 2014). It is estimated that approximately half of millennials report taking four or more overnight trips a year compared to 75% of non-millennials; potentially showing a large target market for travel industries.

However, the way in which communication is made from brand to consumer is changing for millennials. Schawbel (2015) suggests that only 1% of millennials surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. Millennials believe that advertising is ‘all spin and not authentic’; something that could potentially be linked to recent ‘fake news’ stories and ‘click-bait’ shared online. As a result of this brands have to use innovative methods to connect with millennials. Studies suggest the right advert will work more effectively than relying on brand loyalty (Hotel Management, 2016). The travel habits of millennials suggest that 25% of millennials are more likely to notice travel promotions than generation X (Expedia, 2015). Not only this, but travel purchases are more likely to be made on portable devices; with 49% of UK based millennials using their mobiles and 63% using tablets. This suggests that marketers should be using attention-grabbing adverts that are effective enough to stand out from the general content produce online, either through a social media post or by using digital marketing that is optimised for mobile device usage. Although, these figures suggest a golden ticket for businesses, and the adoption from businesses to use social media to connect with an audience rather than simply pushing promotions; social media does not actually play a huge role (Expedia, 2015). The role of social media is used most effectively as part of a successful marketing strategy and not as the only method of promotion (Expedia, 2016).

Establishing an understanding of how to communicate with millennials is essential, but equally as important is understanding what millennials actually want to gain from travel. More commonly, millennials are ‘experience seekers’ and the pursuit of cultural experience reign over partying (Clark, 2016). The experience economy is a term that describes Pine and Gilmore’s (1992) observation of an economy that centralises in selling ‘experiences’. The merit of this theory reflects in the trend shown by millennials in particular, with 72% choosing to spend more on experiences than material items (Clark, 2016). Topdeck travel (2016) also found that 86% of millennials would rather experience a new culture compared to 44% who would prefer and 28% who would rather shop. However, while this study presents figures, the validity of these figures could be argued when the sample size is not known.

It could be thought that millennials use experiences as a way of representing how they want others to perceive them. Within consumer behaviour, Solomon et al (2013) explore the perspectives on the self and how consumers use purchases to define their identity. Travelling millennials may use experiences as a tool to share the identity they wish others to associate them with.

The rise of these independent, exploratory travellers affects not only marketers and regional tourism boards, but they also have an impact on travel operators; in particular the travel agent (Garikapati et al, 2015). With the introduction of ICT the tourism industry has gone far beyond its traditional way of functioning and has entered a new era of interactivity (Garikapati et al, 2015). Travel agents play a significant role in the success of tourism business and in order to fulfil the demands of the technological transition; travel agents have changed their way of doing business and now provide online services (Srivastava and Dhar, 2016). However, this puts increasing pressures on travel agents to operate online and can lead to travel agents being more competitive online than they necessarily would have before the technical demand (Srivastava and Dhar, 2016). This also requires a demand for training and development within an organisation. Price comparison also plays a role in the way in which millennials spend. Data from Media Reach UK (2016) shows millennials make price comparisons inside stores and explore other options before making purchased.

Millennial in the UK (Media Reach UK, 2016)

The impact this has on high street based travel agents is that they must either, offer competitive rates; meet competition prices or exceed in their service in a way that makes paying more worth it for millennials (Ingram, 2007).

In conclusion the leisure industry has grown significantly and has adapted to suit the leisure needs of the millennial generation. Millennials being described as those born between 1980s and 2000s and in particular; involves looking at market segmentation and how generational marketing can be used to explore consumer behaviour. The travel industry calls for further segmentation of millennials in particular, using both age and travel habits as ways of differentiating. The travel habits of millennials can be segmented between those who travel for leisure and those who travel for business. Although, it has been noted that a cross between these two segmentations can occur when business travel is extended to leisure.

Within the leisure industry, travel operators must ensure they market in a manner that reflects how millennials prefer to make purchases; ultimately effecting the way in which businesses must operate, by using digital technologies and marketing techniques to engage with millennials. However companies will always be one-step behind the millennial, unless more innovative solutions can be founded that changes the consumer relationship and puts power in the hands of companies.


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Melissa Gaffney

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