There's been plenty of talk about millennials recently. The Guardian, in particular, appears to be obsessed with finding out what makes them tick, with a slew of think pieces having been written about Generation Y in the past few weeks.
So, why is it that the demographic, which comprises people born in the 80s, 90s and early 00s, receive so much coverage?
They're an enigmatic bunch. Despite countless studies, nobody can seem to agree on a set of personality traits that apply to all – or at least the majority – who make up the segment. Yet, we keep trying because for many businesses, having an understanding of who millennials are and how they operate is key to making a profit – none more so than travel firms.
As evidence of their importance to the travel industry, a survey by Boston Consulting Group found that millennials are more interested in travel than other demographics by 23 percentage points. With that, we've tried to nail down what things millennials want and expect from their travels:
A sense of community
"Will Generation Y ever tie the knot?" asked the Telegraph back in 2014, after finding that just 5% of men and 10% of women aged 25 were married, compared to 60% of men and 80% of women 44 years ago. That's partly because millennials want to get out and 'see the world' before settling down, but that doesn't mean they don't want to experience a sense of community, which is why so many take to social media to share experiences on the road.
Bang for their buck
Millennials seem to have got the reputation for being pretty frivolous with their cash. However, as far as travelling is concerned, millennials are pretty frugal. Maybe it's due to the generation having felt the effects of the financial crisis, but millennial travellers want bang for their buck, i.e. they will only part with cash if the experience is fitting of the outlay. Otherwise, they will quite happily keep their hand in their pocket.
As the Washington Post notes, millennials "absolutely need Wi-Fi, and they want it to be fast and free". For this reason, it believes hotels are doing themselves a disservice charging for Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi, then, is today's chocolate on a pillow – the little added touch that could see millennials book a return stay. We all know how much time millennials spend online; there might be some benefit in acting as the hub for them to share their travel photos and thoughts...
Attention to detail
There are plenty of travel firms who are doing a decent job, but unless you're near the top of TripAdvisor's rankings there's a chance you'll go relatively unnoticed. Millennials live and die by online reviews – some 84% of millennials rely on the opinions of other consumers, one survey suggests. So in the effort to leave an enduring impression, travel firms would be wise to pay attention to detail.
Ignore millennials' desires at your peril – there's a reason they act as the face for nearly every travel ad you see.