Traveling with Millennials

Traveling with Millennials

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Traveling with Millennials

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    Millennial Leisure Travelers

    With regard to leisure travel, many of the differences between Millennials and non-Millennials reflect life stage factors such as their discretionary income, their marital status, whether there are children in the household, how demanding their jobs are, and how much vacation time they have. Half of the Millennials we surveyed report taking four or more overnight leisure trips per year compared with more than 75 percent of non-Millennials. It’s not surprising that the frequency of leisure travel increases with household income. High-income Millennials travel for leisure as much as non-Millennials, and much more than low-income Millennials. Those who report the most frequent business travel also report the most leisure travel, and this is especially true of Millennials and businessmen. Millennial women say that they take more leisure trips each year than do men who travel primarily for leisure, and Hispanic Millennials report the least amount of leisure air travel on average. Men of both generations report traveling alone for leisure more than do women.

    While they often travel with their spouses and—if they have them—children, Millennials are also more likely than non-Millennials to travel for leisure in organized groups, with extended family, or with adult friends. These behaviors are in keeping with this generation’s social nature, which shows up in other activities such as dining out and shopping. Given this tendency, we expect travel and tourism companies to see a greater opportunity in coming years to provide group promotions and services that allow for reserving blocks of seats or rooms or sharing and building itineraries through company websites, OTAs, and social media. Hotel companies have begun to develop more robust capabilities for small-event planning, but those capabilities are often buried on their websites. We expect that the use of such tools will increase and that other travel providers will begin building these capabilities.

    For both generations, visiting family and friends is the most popular reason for leisure travel, but it is more popular among Millennials. This intensity appears to be generational rather than simply related to life stage. Outdoor adventures, shopping, and special events such as weddings, entertainment, and food and wine festivals are key reasons for Millennials’ leisure travel, and the presence of children in the household doesn’t change this. Millennials are also almost twice as likely as non-Millennials to travel for a hobby. And they travel more for personal interest, food and wine, entertainment, outdoor activity, and shopping than do non-Millennial leisure travelers. Male Millennials travel more for gambling and personal hobbies; female Millennials travel more for special occasions, to visit family and friends, and for cultural enrichment and sightseeing. For Millennials and non-Millennials alike, “relaxation and rejuvenation” is the second-most commonly cited reason for travel.

    Members of all generations tell us that they respond to economic pressures by taking fewer trips, but Millennials—who book further in advance, book fewer (but longer) trips, and seek out good deals more than do non-Millennials—also tend to see booking as more of a game and respond opportunistically to low prices and interesting packages. On the other hand, non-Millennials say that they would drive instead of fly, stay with family or friends, vacation closer to home, or choose less expensive flights and hotels to save money. All of these generational habits and preferences have implications for travel promotions, packages, rewards, and OTA inventory.

    We also looked at the travel attitudes and behaviors of younger Millennials (ages 18 to 24), who—given their tendency to be unmarried, childless, and not yet professionally established—usually have more leisure-travel flexibility. Younger Millennial leisure travelers book further in advance than Millennial business travelers and non-Millennial leisure travelers, and they tend to pay with standard credit cards. Unlike older Millennials (ages 25 to 34) and non-Millennials, far fewer younger Millennials are currently members of airline rewards programs. Younger Millennials who travel primarily for leisure fly less frequently, so they prefer getting discounts to apply to planned travel more than getting miles or reward benefits when they fly. And, like Millennial business travelers, they favor low-cost carriers.

    As we found with Millennial business fliers, our research revealed differences between the airlines that younger Millennials tell us they prefer and the frequency with which they actually book flights on those airlines. Southwest (although it is even more preferred by non-Millennial leisure fliers) and Delta Air Lines appear to be the choice of younger Millennials who travel primarily for leisure. They use fewer airport amenities than non-Millennial leisure travelers and Millennials flying for business, largely focusing on free services, fast food, nonalcoholic beverages, and technology services such as Wi-Fi and charging stations.

    These younger Millennials value in-flight entertainment but are less engaged by printed material in general and airline magazines in particular. By comparison, owing to their stage of life, they are less bothered by the time and hassle of check-in, security, boarding, and luggage retrieval, and they are less concerned about service issues in general.