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Travel firms were warned not to consider the Millennial generation as one homogenous group when targeting them with marketing campaigns.
A Millennial is widely considered to be any person belonging to the first generation to come of age in the new millennium.
Chris Davidson, executive vice president of global strategy for US travel marketing agency MMGY Global, said this covers a wide age range and potentially singles, couples and young families.
Davidson was the guest speaker at last week’s Expedia Media Solutions learning lab at the firms Partner Conference in Las Vegas.
He said it was important to bust a marketing myth that Millennials are all “backpacking, no shower taking world travellers”.
Davidson said studies in the US have shown there are more Millennials than Baby Boomers and it’s the Millennial cohort driving increased levels of travel among consumers.
He said they are a critically important generation for the travel sector and tend to travel to have experiences, but added “not all Millennials are created equal”.
He said while 27% of American Millennial couples expect to travel more, for families in the cohort that number is 43% and couples will spend about half that of families.
More Millennial families also expect to take more staycations than couples, 43% versus 15%.
Davidson said it is Millennials that are helping to bust another myth in travel, that cruise has seen its best days.He said: “It’s amazing how much of the cruise industry is being driven by Millennials going forward.”
However, Millennial cruise customers are looking for the sort of cruise product being provided by the new era of 3,000-passenger plus mega ships with all their activities and features.
Another trend seen among Millennials is they are the most likely to use a traditional travel agent than older babyboomer or Gen X generations.
Davidson said while older generations value agents for the service and experience they provide, Millennials cited better payment security than transacting online.
“It’s important to understand each of the generational cohorts,” said Davidson. “But what you should do is support different Millennial groups within that cohort.
“Building a plan to specifically target Millennals, I think, is a thing of the past.”
Davidson cited the late Apple founder Steve Jobs’s famed dislike of using focus groups, but added: “He really spent a lot of time understanding exactly what that audience was looking for.
“We are in the business of changing behaviour and in order to do that we have to have a really deep understanding of how customers act, how they behave and how they buy.”