Luxury Travel Trends: Why "Millennial" Is More Than Just an Age Group

The “Brooklyn Effect” is drawing Millennials to so-called secondary cities such as Charleston, SC (pictured); Nashville, TN; Austin, TX; and Washington, D.C.
The “Brooklyn Effect” is drawing Millennials to so-called secondary cities such as Charleston, SC (pictured); Nashville, TN; Austin, TX; and Washington, D.C.

Ovation Vacations, which has a significant quantity of Millennial clients, has just released its 2016 Luxury Travel Trends Report. Within it are keen insights from Jack Ezon, president of Ovation. We pulled out some of his observations that touch on the Millennial generation, and what he has to say may surprise you.

“No longer does Millennial behavior belong only to the Millennial; rather it is a psychographic indicative of most people operating in our society,” explains Ezon in the report. “Some Baby Boomers are more connected than some Millennials as more and more of the other generation groups are acting like their younger counterparts. Many of our Gen-Xers are as engaged on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and phone apps as Millennials. They now crave a lot of the same things. Their tastes and preferences evolved as their little sister’s did.” Attempting to figure out Generation Y, therefore, is pointless. You either connect with your client or you don’t, Ezon says, noting that, as with any other demographic, there are many different types of Millennials.

So, defining and trying to understand the Millennial generation may be actions of the past. Today, it’s more about connecting and being able to have those imperative travel conversations with your Millennial client. As Ezon mentions, there are many different types of Millennials who are looking for diverse travel experiences. Perhaps the new challenge, when it comes to booking Millennial travel, is to know trips that will entice the clientele — which brings us to the emerging travel trend called the “Brooklyn Effect.”

According to the report, there is a significantly increased interest in secondary cities. These metropolises are riding on what Ezon calls the new cool “hipster holiday” angle, often coupled with great music, local food trends, unique boutique shopping and authentic experiences that they may not experience in more iconic, “been there, done that” cities. Ezon cites several cities that are in tune with this “Brooklyn Effect,” including Charleston, SC; Nashville, TN; Austin, TX and Washington, D.C.

Another aspect to remember when crafting a trip for a Millennial is lifestyle; the new younger, affluent group is more active than their predecessors.

“Their Sunday mornings and net-working sessions happen over bike rides [or other energetic activities] instead of on the golf course,” says Ezon. Therefore, these activities are important components of vacation experiences the way access to a golf course has traditionally been. Outdoor activities such as kite surfing, long-distance bicycling and serious hiking are “driving destination decisions more than ever.”

Lastly, Ezon also expands more on that ever-present buzz word, “authenticity” — what he calls the golden word of the last few years.

“We have noticed that even Millennials don’t really want that much authenticity, especially in the affluent set,” he says, noting that a sense of place is what is important. “[Millennials] don’t want to feel like they are in Chicago when they are in Istanbul.”

Millennials and ‘Vacation Shame’

Your Millennial clients may need you to remind them of the importance of taking hard-earned leisure time off from one’s job. Findings from Alamo Rent A Car’s 2016 Alamo Family Vacation Survey show more employed Millennials (59 percent) reported feeling a sense of shame for taking or planning a vacation compared to those 35 or older (41 percent).

Millennials are also significantly more likely than older generations to say they also shame their coworkers. Plus, Millennials who have ever shamed their co-workers were nearly twice as likely than older employees to say they’re at least somewhat serious about it.

Twenty-two percent of those employed individuals surveyed reported that feeling shame was at least somewhat likely to keep them from going on or planning a vacation and 41 percent of respondents who received paid vacation are still leaving some of these days on the table. Those who reported having unused paid vacation days, two out of five said they left five or more vacation days unused in 2015.

Compared to the 2015 Alamo survey, significantly fewer adults this year reported never working on their vacation — 44 percent vs. 48 percent — indicating a rise in Americans being unable to unplug during their leisure getaways.