How Tourism Boards Can Reach Millennial Travelers – By Marissa Rasmussen

A tourist taking a photo - Source Sojern
How Tourism Boards Can Reach Millennial Travelers

Tourism boards are making millennials a priority as they are expected to spend more on travel next year than any other age group.

With millennials comprising 32% of US travelers and becoming the fastest-growing age segment in travel, travel marketers are making them a priority. 

Before you market your destination to millennials, it’s important you understand how they think differently about travel. Here, we’ll help you understand the millennial mindset and offer strategic recommendations on how you can reach, engage, and convert them effectively. 

Millennials and Their Travel Behaviors

Millennials are the generation born between the early 1980s and late 1990s. They are history’s largest-ever consumer generation and are poised to spend upwards of $200 billion annually. This presents a huge opportunity for the travel industry, as millennials are expected to spend more on travel next year than any other age group. And it’s not just their spending power that makes them unique. Their travel planning and behavior are also different than generations before them. For example:

  • Millennials are 23% more likely to travel abroad than any generation before
  • They are more inclined to travel for a unique and memorable experience. 
  • Growing up in the digital, social networking, smartphone era, they are likely to forgo the help of travel agents, opting to book their own online flights and accommodation. 
  • Deciding where to travel is heavily influenced by friends and families via social media and opinions on crowd-sourced review sites. 

In order to market to millennials, tourism boards need to adjust their traditional methods and campaigns. But fear notIn the next sections, we offer recommendations on how to reach millennial travelers on the channels they use most.

Craft a Full-Funnel Mobile Strategy

With 59% and 64% of millennials saying they’re likely to purchase a flight and book a hotel room, respectively, on a smartphone, after shopping on one, a full-funnel mobile strategy is essential. This includes:

  • Developing mobile-optimized ads to influence millennial travelers to visit your destination.
  • Using less text, captivating imagery and video, and a large Call to Action (CTA) with an easy-to-click exit button.
  • Ensuring your website loads fast and the content and design are mobile-friendly. 

If a millennial visits your website for information on hotels, restaurants, or activities but has a subpar user experience, they will go elsewhere for their information, creating an opportunity to research other destinations. 

Harness the Power of Social Media

Social media is an influential channel for travel inspiration, especially for millennials. In fact, 68% of millennials find ideas for their trips on Facebook, and 60% of millennials find ideas on Instagram.

With Facebook’s Canvas ad format, you can create a captivating video to highlight your destination; show inspiring images of your destination’s best assets; and use text to showcase what your destination has to offer with a clear CTA—all in a single ad. Canvas is a mobile-only format where you can capture the attention of your audience to increase awareness and mobile conversions.

Drive Awareness with Native Ads

As a generation that has grown up with the internet, and therefore banner ads, you’ll need to think creatively to reach and engage with millennials. Consider then Native Ads. This engaging format allows you to reach your target audience to promote destination awareness and consideration across all devices. Native ads are highly effective. They blend in with the content of the page, making ads more relevant to the viewer while negating banner blindness. And, according to Expedia, nearly 60% of millennials prefer native ads, as more than 90% of the content they discover, search for, or share is found in their social media feeds.

The San Francisco Travel Association partnered with Sojern to deliver the benefits of native ads—with the scale of programmatic—to drive travelers to new content, inspire more searches, and drive bookings to San Francisco. Through this partnership, Sojern delivered an industry first programmatic native marketing campaign for San Francisco Travel with unprecedented results. You can read more about the campaign and results here.

With millennial spending expected to increase to $1.4 trillion by 2020, tourism boards must ensure that their marketing strategies grow and evolve to reach these affluent travelers. Interested in driving awareness and traffic to your destination? Contact a travel expert today.

About Marissa Rasmussen

Marissa is Sojern’s Content Marketing Associate. Indulging in her inner bookworm, watching HGTV, and playing with her puggle, Charlie, are among some of her favorite hobbies. Although she loves both, she prefers the beach over the mountains.