Advice From a Millennial: How Travel Agents Can Improve Their Relationship With Millennial Clients

Travel Leaders
Travel Leaders 2015 National Meeting

Travel Agent is currently attending the Travel Leaders 2015 National Meeting in Orlando, FL. This year the opening general session’s main presentation focused on information about the Millennial market. Douglas Quinby, the vice president of Phocuswright, a travel industry research authority, presented facts and techniques on how to reach the Millennial audience. Quinby immediately explained why this topic is so important and why travel agents should pay attention to the Millennial client. “There are now more of them than there are Boomers or Gen X,” Quinby explains, and they make up 25 percent of all adults in the U.S.

I personally belong to the Millennial generation, and over the past year I have heard several presentations and panel discussions that aim to help travel agents understand the Millennial market. However, Quinby was one of the only ones that provided a simple idea about my generation that I have been waiting for someone to say. That is, Millennials have unique behaviors not seen in other generations, but some Millennial behaviors are just due to their young age, he explains. I think some agents don’t know how to connect with Millennials, but anyone who has been in their 20s and 30s can relate to this generation. Here are some “insider” tips I have for travel agents that are looking to connect more with the “M” generation.

Millennials Aren’t as Unique as You May Think

Millennials have behaviors that past generations also had in their 20s and 30s. Quinby mentioned in his presentation that Millennials make up 39 percent of the total travel population; however, on average they spend less on travel than older travelers. “Millennial travelers, when they do travel, are going to be a lot more price sensitive,” explains Quinby.  

Millennials in the early stage of adult life usually make less money than older travelers with more established careers. Think about how much money you made at your first few jobs; you probably weren’t staying at many four- and five-star hotels.

This is why it is important to not try and up-sell your Millennial client on every step of their vacation. We don’t mind sitting in economy during shorter flights and booking a three-star hotel. However, we may want to spend more on the activities on our vacation. We will be more likely to spend more on something if it will leave us with a lasting memory, like an authentic meal at an upscale restaurant (many of us are foodies) or a helicopter ride. Just like older travelers, Millennials will spend more on the things they are most excited about doing or seeing on a vacation. If you listen to those important elements you will know when to offer more expensive options.

Millennials Value Experience

Dedicated, involved parents in the Baby Boomer and Mature generations raised the Millennials, and because of this the Millennial generation has become accustomed to listening to advice and accepting guidance. We watch YouTube tutorials on how to hang shelves, read countless peer reviews before buying that new electronic device online, sign up for personal trainers at the gym and will gladly listen to a travel agent when booking trips. Yes, we grew up with the Internet, however we also know how misleading the Internet can be at times. Like Nora Blum, who is a manager for the Travel Leaders location in Maple Grove, MN, advisors may find the most difficult part about dealing with Millennials is to get the clients to interact offline. However, be persistent -- the “M” generation values vacations and doesn’t want to take the risk of booking online (especially for important trips like honeymoons and birthday celebrations). Bonnie Lee, CEO and travel agent of Travel Leaders Albertville, plans a lot of destination weddings and honeymoons for Millennials and sees how this generation reacts to her experience.

“They are incredibly surprised when a person can talk with so much knowledge about a resort,” Lee explains. She also mentioned what happens when she moves the coversation offline, “once we make that human connection then it’s just like two people sitting down and talking, she says. Bottom line: Be bold, and approach potential Millennial clients with your credentials – we won’t turn away if you explain your worth.

Photo by Zweers

Millennials Don’t Just Text

I hear it over and over again; Millennials don’t like to talk on the phone. However, I think this is over simplified. We do use our phones continuously throughout the day to text and check email, but the Millennials aren’t teenagers – we are adults and professionals and have adult social skills. Millennials are comfortable with talking on the phone, especially when having a complicated conversation. What we don’t like is to feel like our time is being wasted (there are only so many hours in a day). If you need to tell us something simple, like you booked the hotel we wanted, send a text. If you want to highlight visa requirements, send an email. If you are altering our flights and changing the guided tour of an exhibit we are desperate to see, call us. If it is complicated and time sensitive, we will appreciate that you called (you can even leave a voicemail).

Do you want more insights about the Millennial generation? Subscribe to our new M report newsletter at The first issue launches this Wednesday, November 4.