On Site: Speaking to Millennials at The Vacation.com International Conference

Steve Loucks
Steve Loucks, chief communications officer at Vacation.com

A few topics are at the forefront of the 17th Vacation.com International Conference and Trade Show, including how to connect with the Millennial traveler.

The Millennial generation is usually classified as those between the ages of 18 and 35, and according to independent data from MMGY discussed at the conference, Millennials are now booking travel in greater numbers than Boomers and other generations.   

Millennials are also turning to travel agents when booking leisure travel. As Jonathan Hermann, senior copywriter at Vacation.com, explained during the "Understanding and Serving the Travel Needs of Millennials” session. Millennials know how misleading the Internet can be, because they grew up with it. That is why this generation is looking for an expert to lead them through the overload of information on the Internet, says Hermann. Hermann continues, “Millennials are not tech savvy but tech dependent.”

Agents are seeing trends when it comes to Millennial travel. Von Dixen, owner of West Georgia Travel, and Leslie Anderson, an agent from West Georgia Travel in Carrollton, GA, explain that most of their younger clients are looking for adventure travel and all-inclusive properties in destinations like Costa Rica, Europe, Riviera Maya and Jamaica.

Leslie Anderson & Von Dixen
Leslie Anderson & Von Dixen from West Georgia Travel

Pauline Churchill from Skyland World Travel in Hackettstown, NJ, says she sells experiential travel to Millennials and recently sold a trekking trip with G Adventures.

“One of the unique things about the Millennials is that they are not looking at doing the bucket list 50 years from now, they are looking at doing the bucket list now,” says Steve Loucks, chief communications officer at Travel Leaders Group. “Because of the fact that they are looking at doing those trips, where they are going to get the bragging rights today versus way down the road. They need to have the reassurance that they are getting the right type of product.”

Hermann says some tips on selling to Millennials include customizing experiences for the traveler, text and email more often than you call Millennials, encourage the traveler to ask questions and offer mobile boarding and mobile travel documents.

There is a flipside to selling travel to younger travelers, and that is preparing Millennial agents to sell travel. During a panel lead by young professionals, tips were given to agents under 40 on how to successfully enter and prosper in the travel industry, and the big message for young professionals is all about branding and finding a niche market.

Debbie McMaster, a panel member and manager of travel services at Odenza Vacations, suggests developing a niche within an existing comfort zone. “Most young professionals that come into the industry have some sort of passion for travel, so where they’ve been and what there’re interested in would be the starting point,” she explains.

As for social media, McMaster says that while young professionals don’t need to be active on every social media site, she stresses that young professionals need to put themselves out there, which can happen through personal interactions. 

"It just comes down to finding your niche market, then going for it and then branding everything around that. Not to say, you can't change it at some point or add to it or develop it, but you've go to start somewhere," says McMaster.  

For more from this year's Vacation.com International conference visit www.travelagentcentral.com.