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Confessions of A Millennial Traveler

Is the desire for travel slowly moving towards materialistic consumption? What does this mean for Millennial Travel market?

(Disclaimer: This article is a mixture of my personal experience as a traveler and travel marketer coupled with empirical research studies by others.)

Recently, while doing ground research for our new travel startup Travel LYKKE, we decided to start from scratch. We delved deep into behavioral research of travel consumption patterns, especially among millennials (our primary audience). We did more than 100 customer interviews, and extensive benchmarking of currently available experiential travel products to get a realistic picture of the state of affairs. As our idea was to offer unique, experiential travel offerings to our target audience, we wanted to match our product offerings to fit consistently with the consumer demand. Below are some of the insights we came up with.

Quest for Travel

Even though excessive social media content makes us believe that traveling is a way of taking time out for yourself, this is not always true. Desire to travel is fueled by both internal and external factors. Most of us do want to take time off from our busy urban lives, but over-promotion on social media has led us to believe in having extraordinary travel experiences as a life goal. This brings the travel bucket list concept in our lives. It creates a perception that we would have an improved quality of life if we ‘own’  (been there / done that) a tourism product/experience that we currently don’t, or admire those who do ‘own’ them.

Expression of Self Identity

Increased consumption of travel content has made us more creative about our travel choices. Nowadays it is a common social behavior to talk about trip updates to express self identity. But consumption pattern suggests that even for creative choice-oriented travelers looking for exclusivity, buying behavior is still on the conservative side. They often go for distinct travel products, but not for the extreme or unusual creativity. Expression of self identity through travel is a behavioral change in Millennial generation, and is going to stay that way in future. Materialism is shifting from tangible products to tangible experiences leading to increased frequency of purchase in travel industry. This is giving way to a fast growing and sustainable travel market for future.

Experiential Travel

Recent trends suggest that a relatively smaller but fast growing and significant part of travel market is moving from destination based tourism products to experience based ones. Matured consumers and increased consumption, means that travelers are looking for higher perceived value in their travels, and not just ticking off bucket list items.  Thousands of thriving travel firms specializing in solo traveling, backpacking, motorcyle tours, overlanding tours, glamping etc are testimony to the behavioral change in consumer preferences. Most recent Bain Google travel industry report suggests that size of experiential travel market in India is upwards of $22 billion.

What It Means For Travel Marketers

Millennial Travel market is armed with tremendous amount of information. Plain vanilla product and marketing strategies are not going to cut it now. Marketers would have to do a tightrope walk of curating offbeat experiences while avoiding the extremes. Effective tourism promotion strategies should target the personal motives of travel and create tourism experiences around them. Branding the exclusivity is an effective way to attract tourists. Increasing consumption and increasing demand for exclusivity means that travel companies will have to innovate much faster than before in terms of experiences offered.  This is going to make the job of travel marketers harder than before. Looking from a different point of view, the next generation of travel marketers is not going to be sitting in urban offices, but will be full time on the road. Seems like a good news for passionate travelers. 

What do you think about the future of travel industry in India? Let us know your views in the comments section below.

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