How well do you understand your core visitor? Going beyond age and income, what do you know about them? Do they have a shared interest? Is there a consistency in their family unit (or lack of family) that make them stand out? Does it change with the seasons?

We know, and research confirms, that travelers are changing. There are significant shifts happening in the way they plan trips (business and leisure), as well as how often they travel, when they book, and how much they spend. In this blog, I will break down the top three generations (Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials) to share with you a few insights that may just change the way you are advertising your destination or attraction.

Baby Boomers

Boomers are still the wealthiest generation. According to AARP, they make up 40% of the consumer population. They are also very intentional about their spending and tend to research decisions heavily before committing. While they may be a little late to the “digital” party, they are quickly converting to online sources to research and book. But, if this is your core audience, don’t rush to invest in developing Apps to enhance their experience. Only 20% rely on mobile and they are not likely to download or use a mobile app.

Whiles studies show that this generation will start traveling less (they are more dependent on retirement only income and many lost big when the stock markets crashed), they are still traveling. They are being more selective of how long and where they go, and will respond to offers, promotions, and discounts. Often, their trips will last a week or longer and include some type of sightseeing or tour.

This generation likes content. And a LOT of it. They will read your blogs, read social media comments and look for your reviews. While they gravitate toward news and political content, they also like short videos and inspiring images.

Media traditionalists, this generation rely on television and read magazine loyally. Desktop and laptop computers are still their favorite access point to the world wide web. To bridge the gap between their online and offline experience, build materials and a website that are simple, clean, easy to navigate. Keep the online experience friendly to your non-tech savvy guests. If you’re not sure, ask your dad (or grandpa) to do something on your site and see if he can figure it out in 3 steps or less. If nothing else, it will be an exercise in patience.

 

Gen Xer’s

The “forgotten generation” is in it’s prime! Stuck between the wealthy Boomers and decisive Millennials, Gen Xer’s value trust and transparency. The good news – if you win their loyalty you will have it for life.

This generation is also at the height of their career, so time and efficiency are key. Their trips will be less frequent, and shorter in duration, but will be filled with experiences and making memories. They will take frequent mini-vacations consisting of 3-4 days in place of an extended vacation.

While planning their vacation, this generation will rely on their laptop more heavily than a handheld device, but that trend is slowly shifting. They are almost 2x as likely to use a mobile device over the Boomer generation. They will often spend time planning in the late evenings (after work and the kids are in bed). While they also frequent blogs, social content, and comments, they are also likely to download white papers and other content. Most will read reviews on Trip Advisor or other OTA’s before booking.

Gen X is the prime audience for email communication, as this is their preference to other forms (text, direct mail, phone). A good strategy for reaching this group includes a combination of paid search, email, direct mail, social media, and YouTube.

Also note, that while they are at their prime earning years, they also have more debt than any previous generation, making them a cautious spender with demands for honesty. Don’t try to be someone you are not; authenticity will win the day!

Millennials

Ah, my favorite wildcards! Ironically, while many travel planners will overlook this generation when identifying target markets, Millennials families are the only group that is expected to increase their travel frequency and spend.

And they are just getting started! Forbes announced that by the end of 2018, this generation will have more spending power than the Boomers and Gen X.  Yes – you heard that right. Additionally, they estimate that this group will take as many as seven trips annually – mostly long weekends and shorter durations. Ready to rethink your target audience?

Then you also need to rethink your media mix. They are a mobile-first generation. They will spend half the amount of time watching TV as their parents do, and spend significantly more time online (consuming content, watching videos, social media). Additionally, the Millennial traveler is less price conscious and more driven by peers and social trends than their parents and grandparents. In fact, the majority will purchase an experienced that they feel is personalized, regardless of the price. AirBNB backed up this claim saying their study showed that 75% of Millennials would prefer paying for an experience over a product.

To engage with this group, use a heavy mix of paid search, and social media, along with a smattering of mobile display, content, and building up your reviews. Just be prepared by ensuring your mobile site is intuitive and user-friendly.

 

This data is a collection of national research studies along with our experience in working with clients in the industry (hospitality, attractions, and destinations). It is worthwhile to understand the trends you are seeing in your visitor data, then compare it to this data. If there are correlations, rethink the way you are planning your marketing campaigns. You may just find that you are getting a better return for the same investment.

If you’d like support in analyzing your data, or implementing a more strategic approach to your travel marketing, reach out to me via email or call. I’d be happy to chat with you!