The face of travel is changing rapidly.
The days of booking a hotel facelessly through a website has given way to being able to WhatsApp someone at the hotel you are going to stay at. Booking flights are now as easy as sending a message to the airline company through Facebook.
Hotels and airlines are facing new challenges as Airbnb’s and tech-savvy airline campaigns pop up and vie for the attention of millennials, who do not value brand loyalty as much as getting the most personalised, hassle-free treatment when they travel.
Over the week, Expedia.sg released the results of their 2017 Millennial Traveller Survey in a press conference at Expedia’s main Singapore office. With notable speakers from Air France KLM, Park Hotel Group and a travel blogger from PohTeckToes, the survey was broken down and discussed by big players in the industry.
The survey, which was conducted last year, targeted youth born between 1982 – 1999 and surveyed 21,000 consumers. We broke down the results for you.
The Priorities of Millennials
As millennials, we represent a new wave of people who have different priorities.
Experiences are (somewhat) valued over material goods. 72% of those surveyed would rather go on a dream holiday, while 66% would rather buy a brand new car.
In addition, 84% of millennials are more lively to invest in a travel experience as compared to those from other generations.
That is hardly a surprise in Singapore, as many millennials here have resigned themselves to the fact that they will probably not be able to afford a car until much later in life.
Quite possibly the most interesting part of the survey was what was discovered of the relationship between travelling millennials and social media.
As youth, we are constantly connected. By extension, we tend to make a large part of our lives public through Instagram, Twitter and sometimes Facebook.
The survey found that 55% of millennials post holiday pictures while four in 10 of them use social media as a way to store their memories of an experience.
Millennials also came out tops (44%) when it came to using social media and review sites to decide where to go on their next holiday. Worryingly, this might point at how the opinions of other people matter more then the destinations themselves.
This contradiction between wanting a unique experience while hoping not to miss anything is summed up by Tejveer Singh Bedi, Group Revenue Director of the Park Hotel Group.
“Millennials want to be able to get a viewpoint that no one else has gotten. So they want to experience the same things but they want to do it in a different way because there is that fear of missing out (FOMO),” said Mr Bedi.
Thus, there is a greater fear among millennials that they might choose the wrong destination.
I mean, if you don’t post pictures of the coolest locations in the most different way, have you really lived?
It’s all about getting personal
When it comes to travel services, millennials want fast, efficient and personal service. With the ease of apps and services such as Facebook Messenger and Skype, the youth don’t want to have to sit around and fiddle with services that move at a glacial pace.
I mean, all we have to do is look at how much millennials prefer Uber to a regular cab to understand that we want a service that will give us everything – without us having to do much more then open an app.
“Times are really changing. You can see someone who is sitting at their desk with a big desktop in front of them but they are holding their phones and doing their banking through an app just because it’s so much easier,” said Gijs van Popta, General Manager of Air France KLM, to laughter from around the room.
The survey also found that 57% of millennials would willingly give up access to their personal data in order to get a more personal travel experience.
This essentially translates to airlines using Facebook Messenger to make bookings and hotels communicating with incoming guests through popular chat apps.
“We have spent billions of dollars on the technology that makes it possible for customers to instantly chat with someone regarding their booking or to book something using Skype,” said Simon Fiquet, General Manager at Expedia, of the changing face of making bookings.
The bottom line is that the face of travel is changing very fast, and companies are scrambling to catch up with the youth.
Millennials want personalised experiences. Conceited as it sounds, we want to be able to boast about where we are through social media and we want to feel like we are in control.
To end off, Mr van Popta said: “The expectations are so high, especially in the millennial group, and we have to constantly adapt to that to remain where the customers are.”