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TOURISM MATTERS: Are we ready for the millennial travellers?

Adrian Loveridge, [email protected]

TOURISM MATTERS: Are we ready for the millennial travellers?

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WHILE IT’S A REPORT expressly focusing on the United States (US) traveller, I wonder if its contents are fairly typical across most of our source tourism markets.

Compiled by Monya Mandich, the senior director of marketing and public relations at Expedia Media Solutions, the report is titled Experience-Seeking Millennials Are Turning The Travel Trade.

She opens rather evocatively with the line “ready or not, here they come” and among her conclusions were that the so-called “millennials”, the millions of 17 to 34-year-olds who comprise history’s largest ever consumer generation, are poised to spend upwards of US$10 trillion in their lifetime.

Mandich states that “according to new research, the millennial generation is expected to spend more on travel services incrementally within next year than any other age group and will be the driving force behind the US travel industry’s continued recovery”.

Adding, “thus, travel brands are well positioned to capture millions of new bookings each year and grow market share”, here is the crunch: “but only when marketing efforts to reach the millennial audience are effectively executed”.

So it appears the perceived concept of single backpackers with a small budget and a carefree attitude is out the window. The average vacation spend, again bearing in mind this is based on the US market, is quoted at US$3 534 per millennial couple and US$6 113 per millennial family, based on two adults and two chidren.

Twenty-seven per cent of millennial couples plan on taking more vacations during the next year and 43 per cent more of millennial families over the same period.

How does Barbados effectively tap this projected growth? Specialist travel advertising agency MMGY, in its 25th annual study entitled Portrait Of An American Traveller, said that millennials are “far more focused on acquiring experiences than material goods” and when it comes specifically to travel “69 per cent of millennials surveyed said they are far more likely to try new things while on vacation”.

For a destination that has traditionally largely targeted a more mature visitor, what are our challenges to better capitalise on these younger demographics?

The Expedia report concludes that “the key to winning in the millennial marketplace is to get a comprehensive understanding of this massive consumer generation’s relationship with travel. Where, why and how often are they travelling? And what exactly are they spending their travel budget on?

For Barbados, some obvious niches stand out, like diving, wind and kite surfing and “ambassadors” like Brian Talma have done a sterling job of enticing literally hundreds of first time visitors to our shores for decades.

Then we must ask what type of accommodation is this huge and growing group likely to stay in and do we have sufficient existing supply? What about our attractions and activities? Are they geared towards this market and do the existing culinary offerings we currently have appeal to their tastes? So many questions and I must ask, do we really know the answers?

Email: [email protected]