Growing up with reality TV shows like Survivor, or documentaries showing the lives and experiences of people around the world has made millennials the most likely of any generation to go traveling as a means of soul-seeking. They want a culturally rich experience, far more than seeing the normal tourist sites and picking up souvenirs. This may look like having tea in a Japanese castle, or perhaps having a Passover Seder in Israel.
Whatever it is, they want a real experience that they feel will give them some culture, something authentic, something not every tourist does. In fact, the fewer tourists who do it, the better they like it. Something travel agents need to be aware of is that travel agency trends show millennial travelers focus on and plan their trips to get the greatest experiences and memories, and eschew typical out of the box tour packages.
However, as much as they want the real and authentic, they still want it on their terms. In part, this means that wherever they are they have at least Wi-Fi, if not cell signal service as well. When a travel agent plans a trip for a millennial, that means the millennial wants the trip wired for nearly all of it, even if this means just a good Wi-Fi signal in the hotel. This to a millennial is part of the experience; they want to and one might say need to share these experiences with their social network.
Posting pictures on Facebook or Instagram, or tweeting that they just saw the Sphinx or Shakespeare’s tomb are all part of their experience. They need to be able to relate to the world they left even while they are on the go in someplace new.
Tip – let your clients know when traveling, something that is great to have is a spare battery pack.
It is so important that they have access to their digital media and not only for the sharing aspect but also to ensure they get where they are going. Gone are the days of thumbing through clunky language books trying to find the right phrase; most millennials will use Google translator or other translation software on their phones to be able to reach out to a person of another language. This helps enrich the cultural experience of millennial travelers.
Another even more practical aspect of staying wired is that street signs or even online maps can help lead them to their destinations since most young travelers do not carry paper maps anymore.
Something else that millennial travelers are doing is not just trips to relax or partake in a simple experience; many millennial travelers are looking to learn as well. Travel agency trends show that millennials more so than any other generation are looking to make use of their trip not just for leisure but also practical and useful experiences. Millennial travelers are looking not just for surface interaction but deeper cultural interactions with the locals and locations.
This can be something as simple as learning a local language as part of the trip. This kind of trip can include setting your client up with a local smaller tour conductor who can give all the local details, customs, and best places to eat. Even better is a person who can teach the millennial travelers some of the language, local history, and culture. It is a personal connection like this that is essential to the enjoyment of a Millennials trip.
Something else a travel agent may be able to assist with is another highly sought after commodity by millennial travelers and that is work. It may sound odd, but travel agency trends show that millennials are in many cases looking for practical working experiences as part of their adventures abroad. This may look like harvesting maple syrup in Canada or resin from myrrh trees in the Middle East.
Partly because work is such a huge cultural aspect around the world, by learning some of the ways people work and even learning to do the work themselves, millennials feel more culturally enriched and that they have gained some practical experience that can be useful to them later as well.
Some more entrepreneurial millennial travelers may ask their travel agent if they can set up a kind of work tour where they go country to country and get a dabbling in some different trades and the way they are done overseas before coming back to seek their fortune. There are even cases of whole franchises that have started as a result of travelers enjoying some local foods or customs abroad that were transformed into a business model upon their return home so they could share the forging cultural experience with others at home and make a profit.
Partly these dreams and desires for exotic adventure come out of millennials who began seeking employment during the economic downturn years. This made them desire to find something better, repurpose their lives, and create the phenomena of the soul searching traveler. So if you are an agent who happens to have a millennial client who simply wants to get away from it all and find some meaning to his life, you can actually craft an entire trip designed to inspire.
For travel agents, this means being social and learning the needs of your millennial clients. Listening to what they say and taking note of even the smallest comments can help travel agents craft a perfectly suited trip designed around the individual needs of millennial travelers. The more personal the trip, the more it feels custom designed for them and their needs, and the more likely they will return to the travel agent who made the culturally enriching experience for them.
So when faced with wayward millennial travelers, don’t try and offer them a package off the shelf, seek to offer them something that will open their eyes to new ideas and new cultures. Giving them new perspectives and ways of thinking will help the soul searching traveler find what it is he seeks, and by the end, he will have enriched himself and you will have a lifelong customer.