With contributions from Special Contributor Tyler Anderson
When families plan travel these days, they seek value above all else. But that can mean much more than just a great price. It can impact when they travel, how long of a trip they take, and even who goes with them. Check out the latest from the /Explore team to learn more.
Modern travelers are like detectives. They pour over online pictures and reviews, make spreadsheets to compare prices, and explore every back alley in Google Maps street view. Certainly, the digitization of trip planning has forever changed the way many people make their travel choices.
And no generation has embraced this approach to travel planning like Millennials. For a variety of reasons we’ll discuss later in this article, Millennials don’t always research and book the traditional types of vacations many travel brands have historically offered. For this generation, value is everything, though the meaning of “value” might not be what you think it is. And this is especially true as they mature into marriage and family.
Here are five factors millennial families are using to choose where and when to travel.
1. Timing isn’t everything
Think young families only want to travel during the peak spring break and summer vacation periods? Think again. Indeed, one of the first things that a value seeking millennial family discovers is that there are amazing deals to be had on travel during off peak times of the year. As such, many vacationers are now just as likely to plan travel for non-traditional seasons like late fall and winter as they are spring and summer.
TravelZoo reports that lodging is at a 60-70% discount already for most major destinations during off-peak seasons. That’s big savings for a value-conscious vacationer. Packaging these low prices in a way that connects with the type of trip they’re looking for is the secret sauce for driving bookings. Now more than ever, it’s important for a destination to define itself as a genuine year-round option for travel.
2. Shorter is sweeter
It’s a sad fact that Millennials not only take fewer vacations than other generations, they take shorter ones, too. This study on family travel trends from Alamo points to the rise of an alarming behavior: workplace vacation shaming. Today, over half of parents planning a family vacation are made to feel some degree of shame for taking the time off at all, according to the study. One direct result of this? Shorter trips.
But that doesn’t mean you should count young families out. Because the good news is that they still fully intend to travel in the coming year. Travel brands that offer up great packages for trips of two or three days will find themselves garnering a fair bit of attention from this up-and-coming travel audience.
3. Putting family first
Over half of Millennials are already married, and nearly half of them have at least one child, with more trending that way every year. This means that when they travel, they look for family friendly options to keep the kids occupied and happy.
The good news here is that studies show that as they age, many Millennials start to exhibit the same habits as their parents when it comes to creating memories with their kids. They want safe, kid-friendly options that fill the day, keep the little ones happy, and leave them wiped out and ready for bed at night. For most travel brands, all it takes is a little creative packaging of what they already offer to appeal to these young parents.
4. Activities galore
We mentioned family friendly options that fill the day. Let’s unpack that, because you simply can’t have too many of them. In fact, this recent Think With Google report shows activities and tours to be the third largest expenditure in family travel, at 10% of total vacation spend. And it’s growing faster than any other segment in the travel industry, as well. And online searches for experiences in the weeks before a trip outpace hotel related searches three to one, and air travel related searches by eight to one.
Small wonder. If there’s anything that spells value to a millennial vacation goer, it’s having lots of activities to busy minds occupied. This is key, because it’s not simply price that Millennials equate to value. It’s what they get for that price. And what they want above all else is stuff to do.
5. Multigenerational appeal
Money, or the lack thereof, is the number one reason why Millennials don’t travel. With so many carrying student loan and credit card debt, and so few able to save money, it’s a wonder they’re able to pay for travel at all. But guess who can pick up the tab? Their parents. Which has led to a surge in multi-generation travel.
Once upon a time, when the grandparents took a vacation with their adult kids, it was the younger generation flipping the bill. These days, the opposite is true– and the reason is clear: today’s older generations simply have more disposable money than their aging children.
For travel brands, this makes it paramount to offer travel opportunities that appeal across the generational divide. So while the young parents are hunting for all those kid friendly activities, their own parents are going to be more focused on quality of accommodations, food options, and cultural activities. And the number one desired keepsake for a multi-generational trip, according to Virtuoso? A family portrait. No, not a selfie. They want a real, professionally shot portrait. The more able a destination is to fulfill these multigenerational needs, the more bookings will come their way.
With all of these considerations, perhaps the most important takeaway is knowing that value is about more than offering a low price. It’s about giving your visitors more to do and experience for that price, no matter when they choose to travel.