Robin Amster | December 02, 2015 8:00 PM ET
What’s The Big Deal About Millennials?
They’re everywhere: in pop culture, television, movies, magazines, the internet, ads. The Millennials—ages 18 to 34—are examined, studied and, above all, sought after.
And that goes double (although I don’t have the research to back that figure up!) for the travel industry.
Travel agents, agency groups and consortia, hotels, airlines, tour operators, and travel marketing and sales consultants—especially travel marketing and sales consultants—talk endlessly about this demographic’s lifestyle and preferences.
Hotels, airlines and tour operators are aggressively targeting them with new products and programs. Witness Marriott International’s recent and intensely embarrassing YouTube videos touting its new line of—it hopes—uber hip, boutique Moxy Hotels aimed at guess who?
The videos feature Flula Borg and Taryn Southern (sorry, I had absolutely no idea who they are) chatting about Pitch Perfect, Flula’s favorite sheep rituals and Flula’s thoughts on cuddling. I am not kidding.
And alas, the travel media’s coverage of Millennnials is, to say the least, extensive. That goes for news, features and analysis.
Full disclosure: I’ve lost track of the number of stories I’ve written about Millennials including Millennnial travel agents and the lack thereof; the effort to recruit same; studies on Millennials’ numbers and travel habits; marketing to Millennials; products aimed at Millennnials. The list goes on.
As Phocuswright’s Douglas Quinby said at the recent Travel Leaders National Meeting, the coverage of this generation can be overwhelming. Another thing Quinby said—or rather asked—was, “So what’s the big deal about Millennials?”
According to Quinby and others who study the generation, the answer is that Millennials are now 25 percent of the U.S. population. They outnumber Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers. And they’re also using travel agents.
That’s all good, but a few voices in the wilderness are trying to remind us that it doesn’t make sense to forget the Boomers (ages 51 to 69), the Gen X’ers (ages 35 to 50) and, yes, even the Matures (ages 70 and over).
I agree. I also think those voices should be a tad louder.
Aside from the growing annoyance factor in all of this, Boomers, Gen X’ers and Matures are traveling like crazy and, for the time being at least, they’re spending more money on their travel than Millennials.
There’s something else. It may be lots of fun—and productive for business strategizing and marketing—to label the generations. But at the end of the day, I think that people are people.
There are Boomers who travel like Milllennials and Millennials who travel like Boomers. Industry experts are also seeing significant numbers of Matures who are into active, adventure travel trips. Not what you might expect.
Keep in mind too that, hot on the heels of the Millennials, is Gen Z (born in the late 1990s or mid-2000s depending on the source). Are we going to have to go through all of this again?
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