Millennials are getting older and earning more disposable income—and many members of this age group are happy to spend a good portion of that income on travel. According to MMGY Global’s “2017 Portrait of American Travelers,” the intention among millennial travelers to take a vacation grew 16 percentage-points between 2016 and 2017.
For many of these millennial travelers planning heightened travel experiences, working with the right travel agent can provide a lot of benefit. While in the past, travel agents typically did the work of booking every step of the travel journey for their travelers, travel agents today are more inclined to help travelers plan the most unique and personalized experience possible. For adventure-seeking millennials, travel agents can be especially helpful.
A new study from Signature Travel Network and The Center for Generational Kinetics looked at how travel agents and consultants can best reach this coveted group and what benefits they should highlight in their messaging.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that social media is the top way travel agents and consultants can grab the initial attention of millennials, both through organic reach and advertising. Millennials are open to following the individual accounts of travel consultants on social media, as long as the content is engaging and offers some sort of value. The study found that more than half of millennials would be convinced to follow a travel consultant on social media who posts great photos of destinations, interesting links of places to visit, or useful social media deals.
However, when it comes to actually making an first appointment with a travel agent, in-person is the way to go, even for these digital natives. The study found that one-third of millennials prefer to make an appointment to sit down and talk to a travel consultant as their initial contact. When it comes to keeping up the conversation, such as providing updates about specials and deals, millennials, like other generations, prefer email.
As for messaging, it’s important that travel agents and consultants emphasize local, authentic experiences, personalized trips that match traveler preferences, and cost and savings to attract millennial travelers. Additionally, they should focus on the value that they’re able to offer that millennials might not be aware of. Travel agents have first-hand experience and the ability to recommend the right fitting package to the traveler, as well as access to exclusive benefits travelers typically can’t get on their own. They also offer their clients technology tools that can go beyond that which may be provided by a typical travel brand to seamlessly keep itineraries on track, both before and during the trip itself.
Communicating how their services stand out from everyday travel experiences—at the right price point—is key, both online and offline. According to the study, this group tends to be more concerned that the trips travel consultants offer are less customized and authentic than trips they can plan on their own, and often have less to spend than older generations. Travel agents have a much better shot at meeting the needs and wants of millennial travelers by highlighting the unique experiences they can offer, as well as the savings to be gained.
To learn more about how travel agents and consultants can best reach travelers across generations, download Signature Travel Network’s report, “The New Travel Reality by Generation.”