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The travel industry has become obsessed in recent years with working out what kind of travel experiences will attract the millennial generation – those currently aged between 18 and 34, also known as Gen Y.

Surveys suggest that this generation mostly wants to “explore a destination and its local culture” and does not want to be tied down to a traditional “one- size-fits-all package travel” itinerary which has led to the rise of what has been called “experiential travel”. (1)

Activities form a major part of this kind of travel with millennials more interested in adventurous options such as bungee jumping, skydiving and mountain trekking than other generations. (2)

But this does not mean that they are not interested in seeing a destination’s major attractions - sightseeing still ranks as the most important element of a holiday, followed by eating out, activities and nightlife. (3)

“Tech-savvy millennials are adept at researching destinations and experiences online, however tour operators that personalise their offerings still have a role to play,” says the Adventure Travel Trade Association. (4)


Improved technology, including new wearable devices such as the Apple Watch, coupled with an increased ability to use data is revolutionising how travel companies are marketing to their customers.

Travel firms can now analyse how holidaymakers research their trips and the different devices they use throughout the buying process, and can personalise travel offers directly to individual travellers or particular segments of the market, through the analysis of data on customer preferences. (5)

Around one-fifth of all travellers use social media to research and plan holidays but this more than doubles to 44% for the 16- 24 age group.(6)

The increased expectation of free high-speed wifi has led to the majority of hotels and accommodation providers (87%) now offering this service on a complimentary basis, instead of charging an extra fee for in- room internet connection, which was the norm a few years ago. (10)

Even on cruise ships, there is now strong demand for wifi with 62% of passengers wanting high-speed internet connectivity onboard their ship. Almost a third even want access to 24/7 technology support during their cruise holiday. (11)

Travel brands/destinations enjoying particular success with social media include: Airline KLM: attributes €25 million of sales to SM each year. It accepts payments by social media, updates social media channels on complaint response time, and has recently experimented with social ‘flight-funding’. (7)

Tourism Australia: has more than 1.8 million followers on Instagram, with some photos attracting 50,000+ likes. TA has a whole team of in-house social media experts. (8)

VisitIceland: created a ‘friendly human’,

Gudmundur, to be in charge of digital search results. Friendly locals reply to content hashtagged with #AskGudmundur on Facebook and Twitter. (9)


How holidaymakers book their trips can vary between different source markets – but wherever your visitors come from the trend for increased online bookings continues. (12) Online sales accounted for 66% of all global travel bookings in 2014, which was a seven- point rise on the previous year. Although the data suggests that online penetration “could be reaching saturation level at about 70% in mature markets”. (13)

Bookings at traditional travel agents have “stabilised” at an overall market share of around 24%. (14)


“unified and consistent experience” regardless of how they research and eventually book. (15)

Travel technology provider Sabre says that operators need to “sync the cross-channel experience” by using integrated technology systems that can share data across channels and devices so that the consumer gets a

Some major travel companies, such as Thomas Cook through its DreamCapture initiative, have tried to combine their retail and online experiences so that when customers visit a shop they will be automatically sent an email with all the holiday options discussed with the agent. They can then choose to book instore or online. (16)

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