Complex Made Simple

Are millennial travellers rewriting the tourism landscape?

New data from YouGov Reports reveals the many ways millennials aren’t vacationing like their parents’ generation.

With summer just on the horizon, young people across the globe are preparing to travel. New numbers from YouGov, however, show that millennials (born between 1980 and 1999) aren’t preparing in the same way, or for the same things, as older generations. Unlike their elders, today’s youth want individualized experiences that explore local culture — a need largely unmet by traditional travel and tourism companies.

The new breed of traveller is already playing a key role in shaping the travel industry in the Middle East. By 2020, millennials will represent over half of the total spend in this space.

Increase in online booking

Millennials from the UK, US, Germany, and China, for example, are booking their trips online at higher rates than older consumers.

These young people are also showing more interest in platform-based services, such as Airbnb and Uber, than older consumers, while simultaneously showing less interest in conventional car rental companies and national hotel chains, however chains such as Jumeirah have bucked the trend by adapting to the millennial market with more targeted marketing efforts.

Beach holidays rate high for millennials from the UK, US, Germany, and China. When compared to the types of leisure trips older generations enjoy, however, young people as a whole are far more inclined toward adventure and cultural trips.

The data stresses that traditional travel and tourism companies need to evolve if they hope to remain relevant to today’s young travellers.

Millennials want more esoteric, unique experiences when compared to other groups. While many destinations have the types of activities they seek, many have not taken appropriate steps to fully develop their offerings or highlight them through marketing.

Social media is crucial

Experts at this year’s Arabian Travel Market agreed that the social media revolution was important to sell local experiences, along with the role bloggers and influencers now play in attracting travellers, as well as campaigns such as #MyDubai and the award-winning Visit Abu Dhabi app, which is available in ten languages.

Andy Levey, Head of Marketing at La Perle by Dragone, said: “Everyone has a phone or a tablet, everyone is a publisher, everyone is a media company, whether they have 500 Facebook followers or a million snapchat fans. It’s an efficient and easy way to really publish what’s going on.”

He added: “Just because you’re sharing something, it doesn’t steal from the experience. It only whets the appetite for people to want more. It’s about what you want to convey to people that you really can’t convey in words or in a sentence and that’s where these mediums are so valuable.”

Hotels racing to keep up

Hotel chains are already responding to a shift in their customer base by creating or purchasing boutique brands to add to their portfolio. Gen Y focused brands have been created to meet the demands of millennials.

As hoteliers jostle for position, they are aiming to stand out from their competitors through disruptive technologies to save time and money, and meet the preferences of millennials.

Kevork Deldelian, Chief Operating Officer, Millenium Hotels & Resorts, told AMEinfo: ““We have observed an increase in short-stay visits and holidaymakers on city breaks. We have introduced new brands of hotels just to cater to the new, younger generation of travellers who have their own, unique set of requirements.”

Here are some 5-star technology features hotels can use to wow their millenial guests:

1. Stop handing out Wi-Fi logins on a piece of paper: Guests can be welcomed through a custom-branded captive web-portal where they can get secure Wi-Fi access while getting impressed with ads and special offers about the venue. It’s also where hotels can inspire them to download the venue’s custom mobile app.

2. Custom-branded mobile app: Venues come to life when guests use the hotel’s custom-branded mobile app. From the comfort of their smartphones, they can get turn-by-turn directions to amenities and relevant push-notification offers based on their opt-in preferences and real-time location.

3. Make staff mobile: Hotels can go wireless with a secure, PCI-compliant infrastructure that reliably handles mobile booking, check in, point-of-sale, housekeeping, maintenance, engineering and other property management apps.

4. Boost loyalty programs: Who doesn’t enjoy VIP treatment? Hotels can reward guests with personalized push-notification offers based on their preferences and location on your property.

The same level of interactions customers experience in airports, retail, stadia, museums is brought to the hospitality arena to lift service levels and increase customer satisfaction by enabling customer engagement at a personal level.

These engagements lead to aggregated personalized data which helps hospitality facilities improve their programs, services and utilization rates and lower costs in the end.