Millennials live for experiences. They make up a crucial demographic for the travel industry today as they constantly seek exotic destinations and products. The digital revolution has further sparked their hunger to explore faraway lands that leave them spellbound. This has brought an indelible transformation in the travel segment as millennials’ need for unforgettable and hassle-free travel, that is full of enriching experiences, is significantly altering the travel landscape.
While the tourism industry is showing signs of a slow and steady growth, a considerable contribution towards this is being made by aspirational millennials. The Indian travel space is seeing an unprecedented rise of millennial travellers who can manage their travel research themselves and tailor their itineraries as per their interests. They do not rely on the limited options given by tour operators in the packages they offer. Another new travel trend has emerged, that of ‘Bizcation’, which combines business and leisurely trips.
Trends Dominating the Travel Landscape
Also known as the Generation Y, millennials as a community are tech-savvy, creative thinkers, experimentative and influential buyers. In countries like India, US and China, they make up the most lucrative segment for travel businesses and the tourism market. Estimates project that the purchasing power of millennials has been on a consistent rise and is only bound to increase in the forthcoming decade. Their growing earning potential will prove to be a determining factor for the growth of the tourism sector.
Millennials are also driving the most important trends in the travel industry. One prominent preference among young travellers is personalisation of travel. An increasing number of millennial travellers are wanting bespoke travel programmes that they can design themselves and do not mind shelling out extra money for such packages which suits their expectations and demands.
According to Thomas Cook, India has seen a growth of nearly 50 percent among young travellers who are opting for experiential holidays. Millennial footfall is also rising in cruising. As against 2018, millennial cruising rose to 86 percent in 2019, and this trend is only going to grow further in the future.
The trend of biz-cations is catching up for young working professionals and weary millennials, who are extending their official trips by a few days to explore a particular destination. About 72 percent of Indians had extended their business trips in 2018.
Another trend growing in popularity is the food tours, which provide in-depth perspective into the food culture of a particular destination, and adventure tours that give one the adrenaline rush. Millennials and Gen Z are renowned for their undying desire to travel and explore different locations. As they love to experiment with their itineraries, it has become essential for travel firms to cater to the wishes of the young savvy travellers.
How Millennials are Changing the Travel Segment
To analyse and understand the major changes affecting the travel industry, it is important to consider the defining characteristics of millennials which are the root cause for these changes:
1. Millennials Prefer the Offbeat Road
The generation of millennials is known for being unconventional, adventurous and open to discovering new cultures. Due to the sea of information available, thanks to digitisation, there exists a high level of cultural awareness among these young travellers. Apart from travelling to typical tourist places, millennials are also going to smaller destinations like Budapest, Israel, Croatia, Turkey etc. As nearly 57% of the youth aspires to travel the world, travelling is the topmost ambition for this young generation. Therefore, stakeholders in the travel ecosystem are looking beyond typical tourist locations to incorporate this new change in preferences.
2. Millennials Believe in Budgeting
Though millennials are thought to be a spendthrift generation, it’s actually the opposite. This generation believes in maintaining a budget and sticking to it. They do not just save for the future, but also plan to enrich their present. Their budgeting isn’t focused on the amount of money spent, but rather what value did spending that amount bring along. This is why millennials do not shy away from spending on luxury features like spas and presidential suites because of the value the experience offers them. This has fuelled the growth of travel retail with premium brands today, having presence in airports and railway stations.
3. Millennials Want Convenience
With every information available at their fingertips, thanks to the rise of technology and use of smartphones, the millennials are always looking for efficiency and convenience at every point. As a result, travel companies are expanding their operations to provide services online and fulfil this population’s requirement for ease and accessibility. Today, a variety of portals list hotels and airlines so that they can easily reach their customers. In addition, new technologies have been introduced which deliver food to the travellers’ terminal itself.
4. Millennials Thrive on Authentic Immersive Experiences
The digital revolution has exposed millennials to cultures from all across the globe. They are no more just interested in sightseeing but rather indulging in experiential travel, so that they can immerse themselves completely in diversified cultures and develop a globalized mind-set. They want to discover new cultures that give them authentic experiences in every facet of travel, especially in the cuisines. And this experience begins from the very start of the journey, that is, from the airport itself. Present-day airports offer a wide range of offbeat culinary experiences that serve different cuisines, right from local to international flavours.
The millennial generation is the one that’s ‘woke’ and is searching for experiences that are enriching and enjoyable for them at every step, right from the moment they plan. This interesting development has opened up new opportunities for new kinds of businesses at each point of contact of travellers with the economy, from airline through the provision for in-flight entertainment to food retail stores situated within the premises of airports. These definitive changes have not just altered how travel businesses function, but have modified their core beliefs and values as well, as they now prioritise customer satisfaction, their need for personalisation and other similar requirements that they expect to be fulfilled.
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