Many hours have been spent pontificating on the baby boomer effect on travel, in particular the group travel sector. I’m not going down that path here, I’ll leave that up to Dave Bodle in his column at the back of the book. But a lot of us seem to be at a crossroads in our business, and everyone’s waiting for the next big thing.
Funnily enough, based on a study I recently read, we may find them in our current clients…grandkids! Get this: According to a recent survey by Iconoculture, members of the millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) are most likely to travel in a group, with 58% indicating they’d prefer to travel with friends than on their own. This is 20% higher than any other generation and certainly explains part of the uptick in student travel.
The reason? First and foremost, travel is a key cog in the social sphere. While millennials spend countless hours wired into technology, group travel allows them the chance to unplug and participate in authentic experiences. Second, millennials spend less time planning a vacation than previous generations, which is conducive to having someone else do the heavy lifting. Finally, and perhaps most important, group travel actually enhances the social world this generation grew up in. Want bragging rights on Facebook? Check in from the beach with your buddies. Take some great group photos with your smartphone? Pin or Tweet them! This ironically adds to the group travel momentum, since social sharing creates an environment where more and more want to join in on the fun. You’ve heard the term “going viral”? This is exactly what it’s about.
I don’t advocate dropping your current client base on the next corner and making a beeline to Starbucks. And before we off write baby boomers, as Dave makes a strong case, there are demographical arguments to be made for baby boomers, as an astonishing 8,000 boomers turn 65 each day. But millennials do hold a great deal of potential if you forget a lot of what you know about traditional packaging.
So next time Maude tells you she’s not quite up to the new trip you have planned, you might want to inquire how her grandson Kevin is getting on these days. Call it old school social networking.
Jeff Gayduk, Publisher