Want to feel old? Millennials (1981-1986) now can be 39 years old and it is feasible to be a grandparent if you are a Gen X'er (1965 - 1980), at the very least have kids who have left uni and have careers and mortgages themselves. Millennials are getting married and having kids later if at all and they are travelling the most with an average of 35 days a year. Gen X'ers are on average the hardest workers and are travelling the least as they have younger families and are at the peak of their careers. Meanwhile Boomers (1946-1964) are still travelling far and wide with a particular emphasis on culinary travel. In fact the oldest Boomers are now 74 and the youngest 56.
Destinations that rely heavily on the Baby Boomer market can see the writing on the wall and are now turning their attention to Gen X'ers and Millennials to sustain their tourism industry beyond the next twenty years. Boomers are a generation who are interested in travel experiences with an emphasis on food and culture, rest and relaxation. In fact all generations cite rest and relaxation as a priority on their holidays.
But how do you try and entice new markets without ignoring your dominant demographic? The first step could be to discern the differences and similarities of traveller expectations between the generations. As mentioned previously all generations place a high priority on rest and relaxation. Cultural experiences are important to all travellers however slightly more for Millennials. Food ranks highly for Boomers who are also less price sensitive than the other generations.
So what do Tourism marketers need to be doing to future proof their destinations and include other generational expectations into their 20 years plans? Younger generations want more of an immersive experience i.e. living like a local and cultural experiences whilst being sure they are travelling responsibly and sustainably (and cheaply). Destinations should consider whether they want to market to those younger generations now of simply prepare for when they are older as less and less Boomers can travel. A phasing in approach would seem the most obvious answer.
Highlight the sustainability practices and solutions the Island is undertaking to ensure the environment is protected. Carbon footprint and credits information should be incorporated into websites and business strategy to ensure travellers are aware of the green credentials of a destination.
Highlight rest and relaxation as a priority for travellers and consider digital detoxing packages.
Millenials and Gen X'ers enjoy shorter breaks due to their busy lifestyles. Consider weekend or four day packages with airline discounts.
Whilst Millennials and Gen X'ers currently enjoy travelling with their families on a budget this won't always be the case. As they grow older their travel habits will mirror those of Boomers with a few exceptions.
Focus on traditional marketing channels for Boomers and Gen X'ers eg TV, Facebook and even newspapers. They are computer literate but tend to stick with TV and Facebook online.
Many accommodations now report that more than 50% of their direct booking are made with a mobile phone. Ensure websites are mobile friendly.
Destinations will need to enhance their on -island experiences and attractions to ensure they keep up with traveller expectations. A certain portion of the tourism budget should go towards this and local business should be encouraged to diversify, renew and expand.
Until the island updates local experiences for travellers to include more "Bucket List" worthy experiences MIllennials and Genz'ers will postpone their travels to the island until they are older and will likely have different priorities then anyway.
Credit: Research from Expedia Group Media Solutions