Travel SEO: how Millennials are shaping the travel industry

Digital nomads are tipping the scales on travel trends

by Alasdair Peoples, originally posted on May 17th 2016

Born between 1982 and 1999, Millennials are a huge and diverse generation. The chances are you probably already know one or two of these chronic Googlers and zealous self-trackers. They’re renowned for their unshakeable faith in technology to solve all problems, but so much choice can leave them paralysed with indecision.

Millennials are digital natives

According to a recent report by Expedia, convenience is the number one consideration for Millennials booking a holiday. It’s something which is demanded throughout the buyer journey — beginning with booking (e.g. the number of clicks the process takes, and flexibility of purchase options) and filtering through to accessing WiFi on arrival. “Meme Millennials” are also the first generation to demand perfect personalisation, says Expedia, “challenging brands to know them better than they know themselves”.

Expedia argues that companies who are able to leverage their data & insights to deliver a more personalised service will keep Millennials interested. Want to know more? Read on for a summary of the crucial ideas raised in Expedia’s report…

Social media is the canvas

Millennials are digital natives — sharing holiday experiences on social media is a central part of the holiday experience. 56% of Millennial travellers surveyed had posted a picture on social media while they were away on their holiday.

It is also significantly more important to Millennials than non-Millennials that people comment on the holiday photos they post on social media. 42% of Millennials think that social media is a better way to record experiences than traditional photo albums.

Wanted: authentic, collectible experiences

Authenticity of experience was revealed as a more important decision maker than social standing. Millennials want unusual experiences — they value new challenges, new environments and living like a local. No socks and sandals here. Millennials value experiences over possessions, and growing up with social media has given them a deeper connection to the world than previous generations.

Millennials find inspiration in personal networks, but also on the wider web. They tend to be digital hoarders which makes them the ultimate audience for content marketing — they want to share, collect, hoard and display.

“I collect and save all my travel ideas with bookmarks and sometimes I might see something and think about pinning it to Pinterest if the picture is pretty.” — Monica, USA, in Expedia report

Social (media) validation

When it comes to Millennial holidays, shareability goes hand in hand with authenticity. Peer response to holiday snaps is widely desired and travel is the perfect #humblebrag. While social validation is a general human need, Millennials fulfil much of this need on social media. 40% of Millennial international travellers said: “I wish I could be more like the person I describe myself as on social media”.

Safety in numbers?

Perhaps surprisingly, the report found that Millennials are more concerned about safety than their older counterparts. “Far-away (and photogenic) adventures may make it to the Pinterest board, but far fewer are realised into actual holidays”, notes Expedia’s report.

Millennials like to travel with friends or meet digital pen pals abroad, and they are more likely to pick holiday ideas that have been successful for others.

So, what do Millennials actually want?

With so many competing demands at play and wide variations within the group, it is difficult to know exactly what Millennials want. But providing services to this mercurial group will become more and more important over the next few decades.

Conversational commerce is key — human conversations using non-human interfaces. Chat bubbles and instant messaging at point of purchase are going to become the norm. There is also a latent demand for 24/7 service and drop of the hat responses, particularly in times of emergency. Millennials want concierge style services at the touch of a button.

If travel brands (other sectors can learn from this too) can provide personalised service, the most valuable benefit is trust. Millennials place the opinion of those who occupy a peer-level space in high regard — if you can be relatable, you will be able to sell.

“This generation will be won over by nothing less than a true relationship with the brands they choose — conducted over mediums they prefer such as instant messaging, in languages they understand such as content media, and with products and services on offer which belie true understanding of them as unique individuals.” — Expedia

The key facts and figures on Millennial travel

– 43% of Millennials manage their personal life on a mobile phone at least once a day — compared to 17% of baby boomers.

– 40% of Millennial international travellers said: “I wish I could be more like the person I describe myself as on social media”.

– Statistics show that authenticity of experience is more important than social standing.

– 43% of Millennials are intimidated by the thought of going on holiday alone.

Travel experts (i.e. travel providers, recognised brands or expert websites) are still the most widely consulted source.

– The Holy Trinity of Millennial travel is authenticity, shareability and safety.

– 3 in 4 Millennials are interested in “a service that could provide personalised travel recommendations based on my budget”.

Caliber has a proven track record of improving SEO for global travel brands— check us out.