Did you think it was a personal trainer or a live in chef? Actually, it’s one of the best open secrets: Millennials are the most likely generation to hire… a travel agent! Now when one pictures a travel agent you may conjure up an image of a travel service room with an array of posters on the wall and a group of elderly people on vacation, but that is not the case.
It might seem counterintuitive, but travel agent trends show that millennials, the most online generation, are also the age group most likely to use travel agents and here’s why – they know that an agent can help give them something they cannot get themselves: an authentic, culturally rich, outside the box experience.
Booking in the information age
Millennial travelers are often some of the best-informed travelers that any travel agent can meet with. They will often come to an agent with a fairly decent idea of what they want from their trip, so you may be wondering ‘in the era of self-booking tools and Google why they are turning in record numbers to an older mode of tourism’?
Due to the huge amounts of information out there, many millennial travelers know that if they don’t do their trip right, they could be missing out on a huge experience. That’s the key word – millennials are looking for a truly authentic, cultural experience. They want from their agent what they can’t get from Google. They want the local flavor, the culture, and to feel like they are not going to their mom and pop’s standard tourist fare. It is because of this that millennials turn to their local travel agent because they want a personal experience made for them as an individual, not just prepackaged goods.
How to book these trips
So what is involved with finding the right trip for a millennial customer? Something to be aware of is they are unlikely to be traveling alone. Millennials often travel with spouses or children and are more likely to travel for leisure in organized family or friend groups than non-millennials. When a millennial comes through your door, or more likely contacts you online, know that it is likely that this trip will include several other people as well. This is important as they will naturally want to travel together, stay in the same hotels, and go on the same experiences together so bearing this in mind can have big implications for the proposed trip.
Here is something also to consider when working with millennial travelers – many others will be traveling for the first time solo or the first time at all. While crafting that perfect getaway for them, remember that you are likely dealing with a new traveler who has little to no idea about what all is involved, or some of the difficulties they may expect when they suddenly find not everyone speaks English in Japan. It is your personal touch that the millennial generation also flocks to.
So why work with Millennials when they do not make a majority of travelers?
Remember that travel agent trends show that millennials over any other generation have very strong brand loyalty, so if you do right by them on their first trip and really roll out the red carpet, then you will likely have a lifelong customer on your hands. Although most millennials are not lifelong travelers or full-time business travelers, they will be soon. Within ten years Millennials will start to enter the peak earning phase of their lives and will also be the group that travels the most. So by working really hard now to make things perfect for your young world travelers you are ensuring a steady stream of repeat business as they do more traveling in the coming years.
What does it look like to make a lifelong customer?
One thing is that aspect of the personal touch mentioned above. Part of that personal touch is being available. If your travel agency isn’t mobile yet, it needs to be. For starters, by using mobile platforms and fully utilizing the freedom it gives you, you as an agent will become more efficient. This efficiency leads to more customers you can process but also makes you available to your millennial traveler. In a world of 24/7 online self-booking tools, millennials will want to reach you at almost any time they have a question or idea about their trip. Mobile apps like Travelport Mobile Agent can be your true ally so you can be accessible anytime, anywhere.
This is a major social aspect that is important to millennials – that they feel they can reach you when they need you. There are some travel agents who have planned and booked entire trips through texting. It may seem impersonal but to some Millennials, it is the best way to get their thoughts out and it gives you greater freedom to work with several clients at the same time from the comfort of wherever you are.
Socializing the experience
Another of the major benefits of the social aspect when working with millennial travelers is that the more you get to know them as an individual, the more you can craft a unique cultural experience for them. Perhaps you learn they like caving and they mention it in passing while discussing their plans, but you find there is a beautiful spelunking opportunity in the area of their tour.
If an agent makes a package that includes their clients’ personal loves, hobbies, and dreams then they have made not just a lifelong customer but also a friend. Any time that person thinks of going somewhere again, he or she will come back to that travel agent and want the exact same personal touch that was offered the first time. A side benefit is that they will tell their friends and all the studies show that a word of mouth recommendation is the one that is most likely to translate into a sale.
So when you think of the future know that the future of travel is millennials and that your future lies in making a personal experience for them that they will cherish for a lifetime.
Find out more about Travelport Mobile Agent here.
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