Millennial Travel: Unpacking the Myths

Millennials. It’s a generation that most often carries a negative stereotype. Lazy, unambitious, privileged and whiny are just a few of the labels that come to mind. But with any stereotype come a lot of myths and notions, especially on the topic of travel.

Millennials were born between 1982 and 1999. According to data released from the American Express Future of Travel Study done by the Futures Company, 67 percent of Millennials consider leisure travel a big priority in life. Many choose to splurge on a travel destination as opposed to buying big-ticket items like a new car or home. USA Today recently released a video on debunking top myths on Millennial travelers. Here’s the rundown.

First up, they’re buried in their smartphones. Let’s face it, millennials are tech-savvy. They grew up with iPhones and Facebook accounts. While it’s important for them to stay connected online, studies show they don’t mind going off the grid. A survey by Intel Security shows, 57 percent of Millennials unplug on vacation. Technology still plays an impactful role, however, before and after their trips. Social media is their key tool in finding new destinations to visit. Recommendations of friends additionally carry weight with Millennial destination selection. They share their experience on Instagram or Facebook, inspiring others to make spur of the moment trips.

Millennials aren’t just about booze cruises or going to a party atmosphere. They crave the cultural experience. Baby Boomers often tend to stick to the familiar tourist attractions, but Millennials want to live like locals. Over 80 percent of Millennials say it’s the best way to learn, based on data by Airbnb. They want experiences and exploration and are willing to step outside of their comfort zone and try unusual cuisines.

Another notorious myth on USA Today’s list, is Millennials prefer to book their own trips online. However, research shows they’re leaving things to the experts. Data collected from American Express Travel shows 60 percent of Millennials agree they would pay more for a travel agent’s expertise. In fact, there are sites like that cater exclusively to 18 to 30-year-olds for booking travel adventures.

When it comes to accommodations, rumor has it Millennials would rather stay in an Airbnb. A survey from Skift, however, shows they prefer hotels over any other type of accommodation. But make no mistake—Millennials aren’t interested in staying in their rooms; if a hotel room fits their budget, they’ll opt for that, placing weight on options that have more to offer than a pretty room. Some want boutique properties that come with a rooftop bar or other modern amenities. More hotels are adapting to Millennial needs with more mobile friendly room services, check-in and check-out procedures, social spaces, and updated gyms.

Millennials are the largest living generation and a lucrative market for travel. They are more money conscious than Gen X and Boomer travelers, but earmark a bigger share of their budget for travel. The Huffington Post reports millennials are on track to spend $1.4 trillion on travel each year by 2020. Yes, trillion with a “T”. They’d rather spend their money on experiences than material things, including concerts, sporting events and live performances. Millennials are also more active and enjoy outdoor excursions such as hiking or kayaking.

As Millennials comprise more and more of the leisure traveler base, it behooves the hospitality industry to take note of the facts and not succumb to the myths. Millennials are more likely to pick a travel destination based on what they see on social media. It’s imperative for tourist attractions to start showcasing their amenities on Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat to reach this growing audience.  This group is less interested in souvenirs and more interested in having a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Their preferences and lifestyles will help shape the travel industry for years to come.