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Traveler stereotypes are a “plague” and will only prevent marketers from reaching their desired audiences, and following hard data will yield better results than giving in to easy clichés perpetuated by the media.
“Start thinking about micro-segments,” said Reid. “You have to dig deeper beyond what those stereotypes are.”
Just as many young people in the 1970s weren’t really part of the Woodstock generation, Reid says that the travel industry has dangerously misunderstood millennials, who are diverse.
A video montage showed various media personalities, including Lewis Black and Stephen Colbert, describing millennials as narcissistic, ignorant, and lazy. “That’s a ridiculous narrative,” said Reid, who noted that this messaging is utterly pervasive and familiar.
Common misconceptions about millennials include the idea that they’re single and self-absorbed, when in fact many millennials are settling down, starting families, and mimicking their parents’ more conservative travel habits.
According to Reid, millennial families spend more money than childless millennial couples do, and millennials are taking staycations as well, not just flying off to backpack around Southeast Asia.
Along these lines, Reid stated that millennials are using brick-and-mortar travel agents more than any other age group, contrary to the digital-native stereotype. These consumers are using online travel agencies as showrooms rather than actually booking through them.
Many marketers also don’t realize that, according to Reid, millennials comprise 64 percent of U.S. business travelers. This is reflected in the increased popularity of Airbnb and other home-sharing services among younger business travelers.
“Next year will be a record year for the travel industry,” said Reid, as demand rises across demographics — despite the widespread notion that millennials specifically drive demand.