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Millennials Seek Online Advice, Opinions When Booking Travel

Concierge services offer best means for travel brands to reach millennials

December 10, 2012 | Demographics | Social Media | Travel

When it comes to travel, digital plays an outsized role in shaping millennials’ destination choices, their on-the-road activities, and how they share those experiences, according to a new eMarketer report, “Traveling with Generation 'Next': Social Influence Among the Emerging Jet Set.” To grab the attention of these consumers, marketers must learn how to “fit in” to millennials’ online activities rather than “stand out” among them.

In a Travel Weekly study from June 2012, nearly a third of travelers ages 21 to 34 who read travel review websites said those sites, which are heavy with user-generated content, had “much influence” on their travel plans, compared to only about one in five travelers ages 35 and over.

Influence of Travel Review Sites on Travel Purchases According to US Leisure Travelers, by Age, June 2012 (% of total)

Social is another area where millennials are looking before and after they book travel. A May 2011 study from Burst Media signaled the weight millennials give to peer recommendations. More than 57% of internet users ages 18 to 34 said they were influenced to purchase travel by their friends’ and followers’ recommendations. As more and more millennials are drawn to share their travel experiences on social media, the sites become even more useful for researchers and bookers.

But the openness to information and opinion does not necessarily extend to brands.

“Millennials are reaching out to social networks and observing behaviors of their friends to look for new, novel, authentic experience,” said Ann Mack, director of trandspotting for ad agency JWT Worldwide and author of JWT’s “Rebooting Travel” report. “They’re not looking to traditional sources for travel information. Brands have to leverage those movements already underway.”

Millennials don’t shun brands on principle or look exclusively to their friends for information, but they do want an accurate, authoritative portrayal of a travel experience they are hoping to enjoy. In fact, there are opportunities for travel marketers if they can provide useful information to potential clients.

Attitudes Toward Information-Gathering While on Vacation According to US Internet Users, by Generation, March 2011 (% of respondents in each group)

JWT data from March 2011 suggests that millennial travelers are more likely to grab their smartphones to access their social networks, Yelp reviews or foursquare users to garner real-time suggestions and find local information while on the go. Travel brands that provide these types of “concierge-like” services are most likely to reach millennials. But to gain the initial trust of these customers, brands must be prepared to join conversations already in progress rather than interrupt them in order to start and control conversations of their own.

The full report, “Traveling with Generation 'Next': Social Influence Among the Emerging Jet Set,” also answers these key questions:

  • To what degree do millennials’ social media interactions inspire their travel purchases?
  • In what ways do millennials express themselves by sharing travel experiences through social media?
  • How do millennials in the US interact with travel brands via social media in comparison to other age demographics?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. Total Access clients, log in and view the report now.

Check out today’s other articles, “Tablets and Smartphones Boost Digital News Usage ” and “YouTube Dominates Streaming Landscape in Australia.”


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