|From left to right, Joe Pike of Travel Agent; Ashley Lancer of Valerie Wilson Travel; Rebecca Norrbom of Holiday Cruises & Tours; Marisa Costa of NEXT; Daniela Harrison of Avenues of the World Travel; Andrey Zaharenko of Always Travel; Natalia Chelnokova of Frosch; Heather Christopher of Classic Travel at Tackett's Mill; and Brad Rutta of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection|
As part of a recent roundtable conducted by Travel Agent at The New York Edition hotel in New York City, we asked some experts in the field what kinds of advertising Millennial travelers respond to and what types turn them away.
The panelists were Ashley Lancer of Valerie Wilson Travel in New York; Andrey Zaharenko of Always Travel in San Francisco; Natalia Chelnokova of Frosch; Rebecca Norrbom of Holiday Cruises & Tours in Las Vegas; Daniela Harrison of Avenues of the World Travel in Arizona; Brad Rutta of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection in Wisconsin; Heather Christopher of Classic Travel at Tackett's Mill in Virginia; and Marisa Costa of NEXT, a program by Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group based in New York.
The panel was moderated by Ruthanne Terrero, vice president and editorial director for Travel Agent magazine and Joe Pike, senior editor of Travel Agent magazine.
Ruthanne Terrero, Travel Agent: One of the questions everybody wants to know about Millennials is what type of advertising do you respond to? It seems like I keep reading so many articles that say it's very hard to reach the Millennial generation in terms of how you want to be spoken to by brands and what types of ads you may or may not respond to.
Rebecca Norrbom, Holiday Cruises & Tours: I get a lot of my things from Facebook advertising, word of mouth. That's how I learn about stuff, but then I will go online and Google it and look at reviews and find blogs and stuff from there to kind of see if it's the right thing for me. But I even pay the extra $5 on Hulu so I don't have to watch the ads. I try to stay away from all that stuff. I pretty much respond to recommendations from friends and then I figure out if it's right for me or not.
Heather Christopher, Classic Travel: I read a lot of healthy living and food blogs. I have for years and I've just noticed recently in the last two years that Carnival, Princess and now Sandals have all reached out to these bloggers and they're bringing them onboard. That's the best form of advertisement, I think, for someone like me, a young mom who's busy. These are the things I'm reading to find out who I can relate to.
Andrey Zaharenko, Always Travel: I've seen a lot of amazing ads, but most of the time they're so good, I don't remember what they're actually selling to me. I would think, “That was really funny, but was that Geico or Allstate or what? What were they selling me? I don't remember." Whereas I think now, they really need to focus on aligning their corporate policy and their product with the Millennial clients. I think if they can just figure out how they want to present themselves and kind of focus on their corporate core strategy, that will somehow then resonate at a much cheaper scale than the billboards and the T.V. advertisements.
Marisa Costa, NEXT: I think that the point of it is that people really want to hear from someone else that enjoys whatever it is they are selling, whether it's blogger or a friend or whoever it is, because there's just so much information in front of us on the Internet. I tried to buy a pair of shoes and I could go to this site or that site, or I could get this brand or that brand and this one has it cheaper. I don't know where to go, but if someone tells me, ‘I just bought these shoes, I got them at Nordstrom and you need to go get them,’ I'm way more inclined to just do that. It makes my life a lot easier.
Heather Christopher, Classic Travel: We all know how advertising works. We know that it's all money. I feel like we're not bought that way. I think that's what's different about our generation. There's more of a transparency of these things than I feel like there was with the Baby Boomer generation. They grew up differently. They weren’t used to all those types, so they believed whatever was put out there. I think that's why traditional media sources don't work on us anymore. We're like, “Eh."
Ashley Lancer, Valerie Wilson Travel: I was in advertising before travel for four years and I did all the advertisements that none of us watch, and I knew that my business was going to be gone before you knew it. I was doing cable ads and I don't watch them. I have a DVR so that I don't have to watch them. I studied marketing for so many years and I think there's different elements of marketing that I can see, like guerilla marketing. I don't know if you guys know the term. For example, I think it’s very smart if you are an alcohol brand and you are at a party and you can get that in there and we'll try it and will tell you if we like it. Those kind of elements of just being there so that consumers can try things. It's probably going to get more buzz. Someone’s going to take a picture and put it on Facebook and it really is a social media thing, but there's other ways to get to us, but it's definitely not a traditional ad anymore. You have to think outside the box and, again, I think you could spend a lot less money but you have to be smart about how you're getting in there.
Andrey Zaharenko, Always Travel: What really upsets me, being in travel you visit lots of sites of hotels and this and that and you really see how the Internet marketing works. I visit a client’s website for the hotel, this and that. Next thing, I go on Facebook and there's an ad for that hotel. Then I go to another site and then that hotel is there again. I was thinking, “Wait, no." I was looking this up for someone else. For me personally, it does not work.
Ruthanne Terrero, Travel Agent: Take Bloomingdales, for example. If they're having a great sale on their website, by the time you go to check out, the item, say it's a great dress, is already gone, purchased by someone else. It literally gets grabbed out of your cart. But ads for that dress that I didn't get, that's no longer available, keep popping up on every other site I go to, including Facebook. It gets to be like, "Stop showing it to me." I'd rather see an ad for something else, that is available. To me, that's guerilla marketing at it's worst, it makes no sense.
Natalia Chelnokova, Frosch: We respond to ads that are more authentic and genuine. If it's a blog or on Instagram, you can tell if someone is trying to promote and sell something or if it's really genuine and they tried it and they loved it and they suggest people therefore use it.
Daniela Harrison of Avenues of the World Travel: It has to have a really natural feel. You can't put the product first. It's almost like when you watch a movie and one of the actors will drink from a Coke can. You see the "C" and everybody knows it's a Coke can, right? It has to be hidden advertising within the blog. You can't be too upfront about it because then you're thinking “Okay, you just got thrown like $500 to write this piece.” I do feel that's the direction that adevrtising is heading in. A lot of people rely more on the word of a stranger than actual professional advertising that’s been paid for.