This is the first segment in our Millennial Mindsets series from the Sabre New Graduate Leadership Program (NGLP). To understand the needs of this group we conducted the Millennial Travel Trends 2016 survey of 400 millennial North Americans. Here we explore our findings in a series inspired by Google’s Five Stages of Travel — Dreaming, Planning, Booking, Experiencing, and Sharing.
Dreaming: The journey never stops
A post by a travel blogger on Instagram, a celebrity sighting in an exotic location, or a friend posting vacation photos to Facebook can all spark the desire to travel.
For many millennials, the truth is that the generation prioritizes travel above all. The pursuit of adventure is constant. This always-on adventure mindset is why it's important to be a part of any conversation that ultimately influences their behavior.
Millennials are consulting more sources of information than ever before when planning a trip. As you can see by the graphic on the left, the millennial generation looks at significantly more sources than other generations during the dreaming phase.
However, Generation X and Baby Boomers are also growing their source list by over 20% as well. Therefore, by targeting more platforms, you will not only reach more millennials, but there’s the possibility to influence other generations that are expanding their reach.
Where millennials sift for inspiration
Millennials look at approximately 9 sources during the dreaming phase specifically. This gives you, the travel agent, more opportunities to speak to the millennial, and become a part of the inspiration conversation. The most common sources for Millennials during the dreaming phase are social media platforms.
A little over half of millennials follow travel accounts on social media today. With a majority of Millennials following one to two accounts on various platforms, over 17% follow three or more travel accounts.
#dreamon #takemethere #letsgo
According to our survey, Instagram is the most common source of inspiration among Millennials. We found that about 68% of Millennials use Instagram to follow travel bloggers and accounts.
One way to get involved with followers on Instagram is to create a hashtag for your account to use. By encouraging customers to use this hashtag when they post pictures, you can easily view the group of photos using this hashtag by following the link.
The importance of using hashtags shouldn't be underestimated. If you were to click on the hashtag link, it would bring you to a page of all posts with that hashtag. More shares and likes on a photo will give it a higher chance to appear on the “Explore” page. The “Explore” page is an organic way for anyone to view top-rated photos — a potential goldmine for new followers.
Beyond the 'gram
Following Instagram, 62% of millennials use Facebook to get travel inspiration.
In order to expand your reach and visibility, Facebook offers promoted posts. Promoted posts allow you to specifically target your advertisement to Newsfeeds based on the users’ location, age, gender and interests.
There is also an option to show the ad to people who have liked your Facebook page, and “friends” of those people. Lastly, you can set your promoted posts budget. This can be as inexpensive as $5. Based on the amount selected, it will show you how many users it’s estimated that you will reach.
Another popular social sharing platform is Pinterest. Our survey found that about 45% of millennials are inspired to travel from bloggers on Pinterest.
Pin boards use photos as thumbnails for interesting articles and links. These can link back to your company website, which pulls the traveler in. This content can be original, or you can “repin” from customers to spark inspiration for a new traveler. Pinterest allows for wide content distribution to millennials, as well as an estimated 4% increase in website traffic.
I personally love searching under the travel category on Pinterest. I often repin pictures of places that I’ve never been, and articles about things to do in those places.
Knowing that I would be sent to Milan for a business trip, I started searching for places to visit during my weekend of bleisure. One of my favorite travel pin boards had a post about 10 Corso Como, which I actually ended up visiting! There are plenty of travelers just like me on these platforms.
Blog said what?
About 57% of millennials turn to blogs for travel inspiration. Most blogs allow for the purchase of advertisements that appear alongside the content. For some agencies, dealing directly with individual bloggers can prove fruitful. Rather than going through an ad network, a deal is made directly with the blogger.
On this example above, the “book now” text would be a direct link to the company website. And as the content can be hyper-targeted, a specific package could be advertised alongside an article of a certain type.
By appearing on these travel blogs, you will be able to specifically target millennials looking to travel, as well as the many passionate subsets within this large demographic. For those that already have travel plans, there's also a great opportunity to capture some in-destination business. After all, more millennials are turning to travel agents than have in the past 6 years!
From inspiration to conversion
But does this social media travel inspiration lead to a trip? If lookers aren't becoming bookers, how can you justify the investment in social? The reality is that inspiration does drop down to the bottom line: 39% of millennials ultimately book a trip.
The most effective platform for converting inspiration into travel for millennials is Facebook, leading at 66%. Next up is Instagram followed by Pinterest and blogs.
Once millennials are inspired from your engaging content on social media and your blog, you are then able to lead them into the planning phase. This is one of the most high-touch areas of the traveler's journey, as they must continue to narrow their options now that a destination has been selected. Definitely a challenge — and one that travel agencies were made to solve!
BONUS: Share this agency cheatsheet on the Dreaming stage