Much has been made of the Millennial influence in the travel industry. Many hotels focus a sizable percentage of their marketing and branding resources at capturing this demographic, which is often seen as flighty and impulsive. Yet it would appear that some balance is needed — a recent report from iNews revealed that UK brands are losing money because they cater too much to the Millennial crowd at the expense of Baby Boomers.
That said, it’s no surprise that Millennial travelers are receiving so much attention from brands. Population-wise, according to PewResearch the Millennial generation is now the largest in the United States. The UN estimates that younger travelers generate more than $185 billion in international tourism — and that at least 20 percent of all international travelers are young people. Moreover, Forbes reports, one quarter of Millennials make $500,000 in annual household income.
Perhaps it’s because marketers are so preoccupied with appealing to this group that Millennial travelers are driving a great deal of change within the hospitality industry. And one of the most significant changes in recent years is the prevalence of mobile technology in tourism.
Over the past decade, the industry has seen an influx of apps and services that promise to simplify and revolutionize the travel industry. Millennial travelers are by and large the strongest force behind the rise of Airbnb. While true that every demographic uses the home-sharing platform, Fortune Magazine states that 75 percent of Millennials said they have used it versus 64 percent of Generation X travelers and approximately 29 percent of Baby Boomers. Millennial travelers are also unwilling to travel without their smartphones. In fact, according to TripAdvisor, they are more likely to pack their mobile device than they are their toiletries.
In short, Millennial travelers expect and plan to use mobile when they travel. Here’s how — and why — it’s such a handy tool for this demographic.
Between apps such as Instagram, Pinterest, and TripAdvisor, Millennial travelers have access to no shortage of daydream fuel for their next vacation. And thanks to mobile, they don’t have to wait until they get home to scroll through it all online — they can do it on the bus, at a restaurant, or on their lunch break. With apps such as Skyscanner and Hipmunk, they can also compare flight and hotel prices no matter where they are.
Something else to note: Mobile use is linked to spontaneity. Studies from Skift have shown that research conducted on mobile devices tends to translate to bookings more than on any other platform!
For many Millennial travelers, mobile booking is a matter of ease and convenience. If, for example, they see a brochure or an ad in a magazine for something they want to book, they don’t need to wait until they get to a desktop to do it. They can just whip out their phone and do it directly from the app or mobile website. Still not convinced that mobile booking has serious legs? Tnooz found that approximately 70 percent of mobile bookings are for same-day sales on Hotels.com. And by the end of 2016, more than half of all online bookings will be made using a mobile device.
If hotels do not have a mobile booking option on their website, they should seriously consider implementing one. Third-party websites such as TripAdvisor and Expedia already have such capabilities on their mobile apps and websites.
Between spontaneous tickets for shows, pre-booked admission to museums, and last-minute train or bus passes, travel has the potential to involve a lot of paperwork. This can pose problems for two reasons. First, unless the hotel has a dedicated business center, it can be difficult to print out tickets. And it inconveniences travelers who want to book tickets on the fly after they arrive at their destination.
With mobile ticketing, however, they need not worry about remembering to pack the tickets or scrambling to find a printer at their destination. They need only present their e-ticket at the door or gate.
According to Forbes, Millennials prefer self-service to a hands-on customer experience, but that doesn’t mean they want to eschew good service altogether. Entrepreneur Magazine claims they still care about creating a connection with a brand and being treated like a VIP when they travel. In this sense, mobile messaging gives them the best of both worlds. With mobile messaging, they can skip the front desk or in-room phone and communicate with hotel staff at any time, whether they’re on-site or off, and at their own leisure.