New and Changing Expectations for Millennial Travelers in the Vacation Rentals Industry

How and why is the Millennial Generation turning the travel industry upside down? For starters, they’re the most travel-obsessed generation in the U.S., and the sheer scale of this demographic means they demand your attention. “Millennials alone are 79 million strong, making them the largest generation to date.” – HospitalityNet

Furthermore, Governance Studies at Brookings reported, “By 2020, Millennials will comprise more than one of three adult Americans. It is estimated that by 2025 they will make up as much as 75 percent of the workforce.”

The digital age continues to influence the world by making travel and vacation easier and more accessible. Combined with a trend toward remote work, large shares of Americans now enjoy more freedom and flexibility in their work schedules. With millennials making up a large percentage of this group, they can travel for work and make leisure trips more than any other previous generation in history.

vr marketing for millennial travelers

Economy of Experiences

Millennials have reached the age where traditionally they would have families and mortgages. But many of this generation are breaking traditional social norms and spending their energy and resources on what they consider most important: traveling. This shift is changing the travel industry in a big way.

Millennials care about the overall “realness” of their travel experiences, but what does that mean? Forbes.com describes it as,

“Millennials are wildly different from older generations and have different expectations for brands. Their demand for memorable moments and activities over material goods has created what many call the experience economy. “ – Forbes

Millennials see themselves as explorers – not tourists. So they expect to stay off the beaten path and “discover” something new during their vacation experience.

We will break down the changing travel trends in the next section, but here is a list of considerations about the Millennial mindset from HospitalityNet:

  • 85% of millennials check multiple sites before booking their travel to get the best deal possible.
  • 46% book travel through a smartphone or tablet.
  • They WILL post their experiences on social media. In fact, 97% will post while traveling, and 75% will post once a day. Are you positioned to connect with this audiene on social media?

how to reach millennial travelers

Travel Trends

From VRBO to Mariott, major industry leaders are taking note of how trends are changing and how to win over millennial travelers.

Minimal Searching

Millennials need fast and easy access to information whether it is searching online for answers to immediately logging onto WiFi while on vacation. This generation seeks to remain connected wherever they go.

There are plenty of sites dedicated to gathering intel on the cheapest flights, best travel packages, and articles about insider destination info. The one thing they have in common is being easy to find and easy to understand.

Your website needs to be on the first page of Google when users are searching for your brand and product because less than 6% of users click to the 2nd page of search results. When users land on your website, it has to deliver exactly what they’re looking for and make it easy to complete every step of the user journey from inspiration to planning and reserving their place to stay.

Millennials go “hunting” for bargains and investigate new trip ideas, but what they won’t do is waste time exploring a website with tons of confusing info competing for attention and a difficult booking process.

Consumer Trust

We all know that social media is the #1 way to reach younger generations, but challenges remain in understanding the purpose of social media as it applies to business objectives. Millennials not only build and enforce social ties but also leverage them as an influence on their purchasing behavior.

“According to eMarketer, 61% of U.S. millennial Facebook users spend an hour or more on the platform daily. On top of that BLITZ and AMP released a white paper in 2016 indicating that 84% of millennials (and 73% of non-millennials) are ‘likely or very likely to plan a trip based on someone else’s vacation photos or social media updates.’” – Resorts and Lodges

You can promote your business in many ways, the first is to create a space where your guests post about their experiences with your brand such as posting their pictures and reviews. By using user-generated content, you promote an authentic picture of what vacation people can expect.

You’ll see warnings over and over about stock photography. Not all stock photos are bad, but Millennials are especially perceptive when it comes to recognizing overtly fake multimedia. Blatant stock photography can even turn them off, and they will avoid larger corporate-feeling brands for more local, honest businesses that inspire brand trust.

“They prefer genuine marketing messages that educate them. Furthermore, Millennials trust sources such as family, friends or their favorite social influencer. They can see marketing fraud and corporate speak a mile away. Accordingly, they like to receive ‘authentic’ messages and don’t mind if your corporate video is not highly produced – as long as it’s ‘genuine’.” – Hotel Online

brand trust 2019 marketing trend

Concise Messages

With consumers primarily booking on mobile devices and Millennials are leading the pack. They prefer less face-to-face interactions and favor engagement with apps and online tools. Phone calls can be considered“face-to-face” because younger travelers primarily use messenger functionality like chat boxes and texts.

Because of this tendency, you have to consider several changes to your marketing strategy. The biggest is making sure that your website looks and behaves perfectly on mobile screens. Many people have a mobile-responsive website, but the text isn’t aligned properly, or the menu links are broken. Managing vacation rental marketing strategies, staying updated on latest and greatest industry standards, and keeping your mobile-first website design is exactly why many VR companies choose to hire experts.

email marketing to millennial travelers

How RealTech Reaches Millennial Travelers

We work specifically with the vacation rental management industry to provide owners and general managers the tools and strategies they need to grow their business.

If that describes you, here are some direct ways we can help you expand your audience and drive more reservations.

Cohesive Brand Experience

By working with the same company that built your website, our marketing department can work closely with the developers to create a unified, cohesive design for your ads that match the overall look and feel of your website. Now, more than ever, future generations are looking for down-to-earth companies that align with their ideals and provide memorable brand experiences.

“It’s important to ensure that your brand experience is the same across your website, social media channels, and even a brand app (should you choose to really push the innovation envelope). If a millennial is not seeing similar messaging across all of these channels, or feels that the experience is detached in some way, they are less likely to book their stay with your property.” – Resorts and Lodges

Optimized Website Functionality and Online Booking

This means that special attention will be paid to removing any roadblocks in the guest interactions with your website in particular. When checking out, a visitor will quickly leave when encountering a problem or interruption in their rental search or booking process.

How straightforward is your booking process? How easy is it to explore all the rental properties you offer? We monitor your website performance and routinely perform audits to ensure your website is excelling where your competitors fall short.

social media marketing millennial travelers

Dedicated Marketing

Social media marketing for vacation rental companies is more important than ever. Millennials are more likely to search social media for travel inspiration and information than older Americans. These social media platforms are Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. To be competitive, you might think about managing accounts on all three.

Not only can we help potential guests learn about you, but we can also help put your vacation destination at the forefront of their “must-see” list. By providing a mix of your rental property posts on Facebook and information about things to do from your website blog, we can paint a picture of fun times and great memories.

Hotels, travel brands, travel agents, vacation rental managers, and everyone in between are taking a good, long look at the future. There is no option but to adapt to the new travel trends driven by an emerging generation focused on technology, exploration, and authenticity.

Contact us if you have questions or would like to know more.

About Heather Smith

I live in Asheville, NC, but grew up in Alabama. I cannot live without my two dogs, my cat (currently curled up in my lap by the way), my coffee, and my husband. I ABSOLUTELY HATE COLD WEATHER.

My favorite part of the job is that there is never a dull moment, and I'm here to pass on what I learn and help your business grow.

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