WINIGN’ IT: MILLENNIAL TRAVELLING

Elesha Nicholls

Travel has transformed into an innovative industry but what do millennials have to do with this newest transformation?

Travelling isn’t anything new. For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have been travelling from place to place. Whether that be for a better life, new adventures, or leisure, travel has always been a part of people. The Travel industry boomed because of this very need to explore, and it will continue to flourish so long as people still want to do that.

Though travelling is not new, millennial travel is the more sophisticated and economically friendly way of getting around the world. Millennials are booking their own cost-efficient flights and accommodation and are locating excursion experiences that allow them to live like the locals and get a better sense of the country in which they are visiting.

Compared to other generations such as the baby boomers, Millennials who range from the ages of 22 to 37 have a secret weapon that is helping them take more unique trips. It is Social media. Social media plays a huge role in influencing millennials on where to go, stay, eat and play while on their travels. Brands have realized that the way to the millennial is through their phone and they have started to use interesting tactics to pull millennials in.

Millennial Solo Traveler, Pattie Phillips says that social media has helped millennials who are deeply invested in social media get endorsements and sponsorships to help them travel. But that doesn’t account for every millennial such as herself.

“The vast majority of my travel has been self-funded by old fashioned hard work. Having a job and saving money. But I think it’s very important to talk about how we’re bombarded by images of our peers living these remarkable lives on social media. People aren’t always transparent about the means of how they are able to live these lives.”

User generated content is allowing brands to accumulate more customers. The potential millennial customer see’s something online being presented to them – the catch being that that this is a REAL experience and usually unbiased, which means that this potential customer is going to hear about the good, the bad, and the ugly, unlike the paid advertisements generations before the millennials were being fed on Tv’s and in newspapers.

The people that millennials are seeing online usually have something that they want. In this instance it’s a trip abroad. These people online are telling the millennial everything they need to know. From how they were able to land a cheap connecting flight, the cheap Airbnb they are staying at and all the cool things they’ve done on the trip. Toss in some aesthetically pleasing photos and videos and guess what? You now have a millennial searching google flights and Airbnb listings wanting to visit your country. User generated content works.

To get a better sense of how social media and phones are playing a part in millennials travel experience. Hospitality.Net says that 85% of millennials check multiple sites before booking their travel to get the best deal possible. 46% of millennials book travel through a smartphone or tablet. And they WILL post their experiences on social media. With 97% posting while traveling, and 75% posting once a day. Statistics also show that 68% of millennials will remain loyal to a program that offers them the most rewards, cash / freebies, upgrades and discounts.

With these statistics it’s easier to understand why the travel industry is starting to conform to the ways of the millennial traveler. But are they catering to only one type of millennial traveler? Pattie Phillips thinks so.

“I think the travel industry has bent to the needs of some millennials, not all. Especially when you take into account demographics and socioeconomics.” says Phillips.  If you were to talk to every millennial across the globe, everyone’s lived experience would be vastly different. Many of them have the means to get out and travel, but many of them will never have that possibility as well. Let’s look at it from a Toronto stand point. There might be millennials in Regent Park who will never have the opportunity to pack a bag and backpack through Europe for four months, while its very common to see millennials from Rosedale going on such a journey. I call it the barriers of entry.

Though this may be true in terms of the travel industry not fully catering to every socioeconomic need, more and more travel opportunities abroad are popping up and promising inclusive shelter, meals, and a steady pay. The catch? Your time and effort into bettering another international community. These new opportunities are another reason as to why millennials want to take flight.

Shanice Dennis-Russell, a millennial traveler who is about to set off on this exact journey had this to say about her choice to leave home on a whim.

“I’m able to pick up and leave because I have nothing holding me back in Toronto. I’m 25, single, I don’t own anything, I have no kids. It’s an ideal situation for me to pick up and go whenever I want”. Says Dennis-Russell.  “I recognized the importance of time and how you never get it back but money, that comes and goes. I use to commute two hours each way to and from work. Mid December I recognized how much of a waste of time that was and it helped play a role in my decision to travel. I’ve also come to terms with how much I hate working in an office job from 9-5, so I made a promise to myself. I’ll never do that again. Ever. I have committed to working at a doggy daycare 5 times a week for 5 hours a day when I get to Singapore. In exchange, I receive free room and board. They will be feeding me breakfast, lunch and dinner, providing me with a bicycle to explore and a metro pass! I’ll be working alongside another Canadian and two foreigners.”

According to a 2015 survey by Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase, 84% of millennials said that they would travel abroad to participate in volunteer activities.

“Other generations may not assume Millennials would use their most precious assets, their time and money, to give back to international communities they visit, but today’s young travelers are reframing that mindset. We’ve seen in the past that this generation of travelers value rewards and perks from travel services, and now we’re seeing how they could be using those rewards for a larger purpose,” says Vibhat Nair, general manager of Chase Card Services, in a press release from BusinessWire.

After her trip in Singapore, Shanice plans on going to Australia and settling there for a while. She ended off our conversation with her plans, and advice for any millennial wanting to take that big leap of faith when coming to travel.

“There is no job opportunity waiting for me in Australia. I’m straight up winging it. Sometimes in life you have to take risks. If what you’re doing or what you want to do doesn’t scare you, it’s not a big enough goal or dream. I’m scared shitless but I’ve also heard stories of backpackers in Australia coming to the country with only $1000 in their bank account -which isn’t even considered a lot because it’s an expensive country. But they make do and eventually land a farm job that pays them $23.66/hr. It CAN be done. The question is, are you willing to take the risk? and I certainly am. I have nothing to lose”.

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