Millennials, also known as Gen Y or Me Generation, have radically changed the way we understand tourism. They are young people between the ages of 18 and 35, with a vision of life that industry players must be aware of if they want to remain competitive. We could say that this is the most influential generation in history, as they are constantly informed and have the means to express their opinion. Their consumer preferences will continue to define a large part of tourism (and non-tourism) products and services, at least for the next 15 years.
So how have they transformed the travel consumer ecosystem? Let's look at 5 key points:
1. New way of understanding marketing. The impact of social networks over the last ten years has had a profound influence on tourism marketing strategies. A revolution that has its potential in the content shared through increasingly diversified channels, which provide value to inform and influence users' purchasing decisions. Therefore, the customer has the power and ability to establish conversations with the different brands (be it hotels, travel agencies or airlines), which practice active listening and constantly readapt their marketing strategies. Changes that used to take months or years to happen can now happen in days and/or weeks - it is the age of immediacy. Baby boomers received one-way information through traditional channels and had no way to communicate with brands and make their opinions known. There was only word of mouth, which defined the perception of certain travel agencies.
2. Reframing business travel. Baby boomers used to lament having to jump from one plane to another to attend business meetings, but millennials have opted to take a new approach to this scenario and take advantage of all its possibilities. In other words, a business trip can become the starting point for a not inconsiderable "break". This philosophy is known as "bleisure", and is on the rise because a high percentage of these workers are self-employed, managing non-traditional schedules and enjoying greater work flexibility.
3. The experience economy rules. This way of understanding tourism is widely accepted among millennials, who prefer to invest more money in experiences than in material goods. While baby boomers tend to seek the safety and sobriety of resorts, their generational successor prefers to get out of the comfort zone, experience different cultures, mingle with local populations on trips, be part of the community they visit, and learn something new on every trip. This generation is forever global.
4. Viajar solo, pero acompañado. A pesar de que aún se conciben los viajes en solitario como «peligrosos», casi la mitad de los millennials pretende hacer alguna escapada individual a destinos remotos, pero esto no quiere decir ausencia de compañía. La tecnología les permite compartir con seres extraños (a priori) que pasan a ser compañeros de experiencias y al final amigos en la red para siempre. Viajar de manera individual, pero con compañía, proporciona la libertad de explorar a solas y al mismo tiempo compartir vivencias. Esta generación nació para compartir, para ser en lugar de tener. Esta actitud marca una ruptura significativa respecto a la generación anterior, que solo concebía viajar en familia a destinos concretos, siempre con actividades programadas y previsibles, alejándose de la improvisación.
5. Technological revolution. In addition to the aforementioned millennials, generations Y and Z represent a gigantic customer base for the industry, and their purchasing power has grown exponentially. As a result, tourism players are opting for new technologies geared towards personalisation, automation and maximum security. In this context, tourism companies have suddenly moved into the "mobile" era, and new technologies will arrive and be installed very quickly. From those born in the 1960s to the digital natives who were born in the 2000s, there is a growing ability to manage in digital environments, so tourism offers must be closely related to this evolution.
For Ángel García Butragueño, Co-Director of the BRAINTRUST Tourism Barometer, "Travel providers must understand the motivations and characteristics of this niche market, which is no longer the future, it is the present. In this way they can stop competing on price and focus on developing innovative business models and clearly differentiated value propositions. In short, they must be attentive to their needs and be open to a constant conversation with these audiences, so that they always live up to their expectations".
According to José Manuel Brell, Co-Director of BRAINTRUST Tourism Barometer, "Marketing strategies must stop being massive, and become personalised, identifying each individual, analysing and knowing their motivations, to properly design one to one marketing strategies, the future will be: one person, one moment, one motivation, one campaign, one trip, one experience".