While here in Las Vegas for the annual sales meeting of Signature Travel Network, which has just launched its own young professionals group, I was delighted to see there was a “Selling Travel to the Millennial Generation” panel on the agenda, which featured two of our recent 30Under30 winners, Katelyn O’Shaughnessy of TravelStore and Ahna Hall of Kahala Travel. If you’ve been wondering how to reach this market, here are 10 tips to do so, which I garnered from the panelists, who also included Gary Goeldner of Travel2 and Steve Lima of G Adventures. Trafalgar's Paul Wiseman served as moderator.
1. Recognize the size of the market. There are 95 million millennials out there, compared to 78 million baby boomers. Millennials as a group spend $200 billion a year on travel. They comprise 22 percent of the traveling public and while they’re leaning toward budget travel now, they’re growing up and will soon be able to spend more. They take, on average, nine trips a year; that’s business and pleasure, but they’re extending work trips into leisure breaks.
2. Most of them don’t know travel agents exist. As 18-to-35-year-olds, they grew up where booking travel online was the norm and the travel agencies in their towns had disappeared. Consider this your opportunity to teach them what you’re capable of.
3. Millennials like to champion brands they love. Ensure you’re creating your own brand and that it’s something they want to be a part of.
4. Ensure that your website represents you well. It doesn’t have to be over the top, but if it’s outdated or looks junky, you’ll lose the millennial who will think you’re not current.
5. Let the culture of your business show through online, on Facebook and other social media. Create a vibe people want to be a part of.
6. Don’t do a hard sell on Facebook. Posting deal after deal will make Millennials walk away. Instead, speak of your own travel experiences. Talk software, not hardware.
7. Ask clients if you can “borrow” their travel photos to post on your agency’s Facebook page. Tag them in the photos so they’ll show up on your clients’ own page and so their friends will see they’ve been tagged by you. They’ll also get a glimpse into your world and may become clients themselves.
8. Ask millennials why they want to go on a specific trip; don’t just ask them where and when they want to go. Asking the “why” lets you find out what they want to feel when they’re on their trip, and you’ll be able to engage with them on a much more meaningful level.
9. Millennial travelers fall into two groups. One wants to be collaborative each step of the way. Skype with them and screen share so they can see what you’re showing them on your computer desktop if you’re speaking to them remotely. The other group is time-starved and overwhelmed by the choices on the Internet. They will leave the entire trip planning to you.
10. Finally, if you’re not a millennial, fear not. You don’t have to be their age for them to relate to you. If you’re confident, intelligent and experienced, they’ll look up to you and put their trust in you as their travel advisor.