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According to a 2018 report from Accenture, a global management consulting firm, millennials in the U.S. are projected to have $1.4 trillion in annual spending power by 2020. Not to mention, with roughly 80 million people, they comprise the country’s largest demographic market. Meanwhile, a 2017 Nielsen study of global millennial travelers says that this segment travels more than any other generation, including baby boomers.
Even if you’re ready for headlines to move on from this oft-shouted buzzword, data attests there’s simply no time like the present to add millennials to your client list. And there’s perhaps no tour operator that knows millennials — and more recently, Generation Z — better than Contiki, which has been selling trips to travelers ages 18 to 35 years old since 1962.
“Contiki is rooted in the concept that there are certain experiences that are best when you’re young— defining moments that can change your core outlook on life,” said Adam Cooper, president of Contiki. “Our founders felt that all young people should have access to trips that are exciting, affordable and built to their unique interests — not what their parents want, but what they truly desire.”
Coopers shares the latest insights into this important market below.
Why do you think Contiki has succeeded in continuously delivering trips to travelers ages 18 to 35?Catering to young people is our bread and butter. it’s why we have grown from a small company founded in New Zealand in 1962 into an international travel company that boasts more than 300 trips across six continents.
Customization is a key buzzword with millennials, but this is something we have always done and will strive to do so even more in the coming year with new trips. We have trips to appeal to the unique travel appetites of every millennial, whether that’s a high-paced, all-encompassing trip on our Discoverer style trips or a low-key trip where you’ll learn the ins and outs of your city on our In-Depth Explorer style trips.
Flexibility and taking a progressive approach to our product is key. By fully immersing ourselves with who our travelers are and being highly connected to what’s happening in their lives, we stay ahead of what our travelers want so we can offer it before they even dream of it. Whether an African safari or Croatian yacht excursion is on your bucket list, Contiki has something for you.
Many travel companies have been shifting gears to target millennials — any thoughts on this?Companies across industries recognize the spending power of the millennial demographic, which is why we’re seeing so many retargeting their marketing, adapting their products and creating brand extensions to reach this market. That said, it’s clear some brands are missing the mark trying to cater to the stereotypical labels slapped onto this demographic.
What makes a product really successful in reaching millennials is knowing the full picture of who this demographic is: their values, their habits and what they seek from life in general. It also must recognize cultural agility moments to tap into and then transcend that through travel experiences and continually innovating to stay ahead.
This approach is how we continue to successfully reach 18 to 35 year olds, and today that means millennials and Generation Z. In 20 years, it’ll be the next generation of young travelers — and we’ll be ready.
Millennials get a lot of flak for their devoted use of technology. Do you think this deserved, or are they misunderstood?It’s important to note the stereotypical and often negativized label of millennials being the most interconnected generation, and to realize this actually applies beyond the scope of social media into real-life, tangible experiences. This demographic cohort sees the value in travel and the connections formed through travel experiences, so we see the value in selling them the experiences they desire.
They want to have experiences they didn’t know exist, and they want to share it with their world.
What should travel advisors avoid when working with millennials?Cookie-cutter experiences. Yes, today’s young travelers may follow the trends and influence of social media, but they seek to also be trendsetters themselves.
When it comes to travel, they may want to visit the buzzy millennial-pink Cha Cha Matcha shop when visiting New York City because everyone else does, but one of the biggest reasons travelers book with Contiki is to uncover the next “it” spot in a destination. They want to discover the best new place to enjoy a local gelato, meet a local artisan and submerse themselves in local traditions. They want to have experiences they didn’t know exist, and they want to share it with their world.
Any quickfire, must-know tips for agents targeting millennials?Stay connected and be on the platforms where your customers are. Knowing that millennials and their younger subsets, Gen Zers, are always connected and utilizing social platforms to chat and search, agents should use these channels to intercept, engage and connect with them.