Vacation.com closed out its 16th International Conference & Trade Show with a strong dose of reality and a talk by Jason Dorsey, an expert on Generation Y (Millennials) and a leading generational speaker in Millennials strategy. Over the past few years we’ve heard nothing but chatter about the difficulty of selling to Millennials and how that would present a (insert hyperbole) challenge for Boomers looking to sell them travel. Apparently we’ve all been misled.
Dorsey, a dynamic speaker that had the audience in stitches over generational stereotypes and profiles, broke it down to its simplest form, and handed the audience of predominantly Boomers the key to selling travel to affluent Millennials. It is important to note that in the United States there are 80 million Millennials. It is the most diverse generation in the history of the US, with more college degrees than any previous generation. Though everyone says Millennials are the broke generation, it’s not so, as they will spend $1.2 trillion, and in 2017 Millennials will outspend Baby Boomers. “Millennials are also the number one generation to refer friends to agents. Why? Because none of our friends know how to buy travel,” Dorsey says.
“The number one most important thing to know about Generation Y is that it often feels entitled,” said Dorsey. “Where did this come from, and what does it mean?”
Here’s where the reality came in: entitlement, according to Dorsey, as a behavior is 100 percent learned. You are not born entitled. You have to be raised that way. The irony is that Boomers became strong and self-reliant because they struggled, and knew that no one would rescue them. In an effort to shield their children from this ‘struggle,’ they spoiled them. “The result is a whole generation that thinks differently about taking responsibility for their actions, what it takes to be successful and so on,” Dorsey says. “It’s not a rich thing or a poor thing. It’s a parenting thing.”
Understanding that Millennials often feel entitled is key to understanding how to sell to them. The theory that only Millennials can sell to Millennials is completely misguided, Dorsey believes. Often the Boomer generation feels intimidated by Millennials because of their tech savvy nature and their need for instant gratification. But Dorsey puts this into new perspective. “Millennials are not tech savvy,” he says. “What we are is tech dependent. There’s a critical distinction. We have no idea how the phone works. We just know we cannot live without it.” So when it comes to selling to Millennials, who don’t care about the how and why and who need instant gratification, it all comes down to one thing: How simple can you make selling travel so it just works?
That’s it. That’s the secret. Make it simple enough, and make it customizable enough, and you can sell anything to a Millennial. “Your new tagline at the office should be, ‘As unique as you are,’” Dorsey advises. ‘Every Millennial thinks they are unique or special. They literally need to hear you say that.”
Dorsey also recommends complimenting Millennials on their questions. “Why? Because we don’t know what to ask. We are nervous and inexperienced. Tell us we asked a great question.”
Dorsey even acknowledged that infamous moment among Millennials when you can tell they have completely mentally checked out. “Bring them back into the conversation. Take your tablet and put it in front of you. Start to show them something. As long as you look at the screen, they will look at the screen.”
Dorsey’s tactics took life of their own with his off-the-wall energy, sense of humor, and self-deprecation about his own generation, which genuinely engaged the audience of Vacation.com members and suppliers. But through his comedy and mockery of himself and his peers he made some very astute points about Millennials. They aren’t that complicated. They want it now, they want it special and they want it simple.