Millennials’ Travel Statistics: How do They Travel?

🕒 6 min.

As a travel agent or tour operator, it’s important that you have a clear idea about who your target customers are. Your business model and marketing approach will differ depending on whether you appeal to a broad range of customers or whether you focus on a particular travel niche or age group.

Where do your customers live? How old are they? How much do they earn? What are their travel preferences? Having access to this kind of information enables you to create the best and most tailored travel products for your audience and execute the most effective marketing strategies.

The definitions of age groups and generations can vary, but at a global level they are generally understood as follows (see chart 1).

Chart 1: Global Generation Age Groups

Generation nameYear of birthAge in 2020
The silent generation1928 – 1945From 75 to 92 years old
Baby Boomers1946 -1964From 56 to 74 years old
Generation X1965 -1980From 40 to 55 years old
Millennials1981 -1996From 24 to 39 years old
Generation Z1996 and after23 years old and under
Source: Pew Research Center /Catalyst.org

In recent years there has been a great deal of interest from the business world in Millennials. That’s because this age group of young adults now dominates the global workforce. Millennials represent the world’s most important generation for consumer spending growth and general economic prospects.

Millennials are now the largest generation in the US at 71.1 million or 22% of the total population (see Chart 2).

Chart 2: US Population Distribution By Generation in 2019

US population by generation
Source: Statistica

Looking at the world as a whole, however, the majority of Millennials live in Asia. There are 400 million Millennials living in China alone. That’s more than the entire populations of the US and Canada combined.

In some developed countries, the percentage of Millennials is relatively low. In Japan, Spain and Italy, Millennials make up 17-18% of these populations.

Which generation travels the most?

Research into the US tourism industry shows that Millennials travel more than other generations. Expedia says that US Millennials travel 35 days per year, compared to 26 days for Generation X; 27 days for Baby Boomers; and 29 days for Generation Z.

The average budget of Millennials is slightly below the annual travel spend of Generation X or Baby Boomers.

In 2019 the average US Millennial planned to take five trips, including three overseas, with a total budget of $4,400, compared to an annual travel budget of $5,400 for Generation X and $6,600 for Baby Boomers.

How much do Millennials earn?

Nearly half (43%) of Millennials across the world are affluent, earning US$75,000 or more per year, according to Copyrise.

As prosperity continues to increase across the world, the ranks of the global middle classes are forecast to grow from their current 50% to two thirds by 2030.

Over the next ten years, increased Millennial spending on leisure and travel will be powered by Asia in particular, specifically from the lower middle classes of India, China, and Indonesia, a market segment worth US$20 trillion, says World Data Lab.

What percentage of travelers are Millennials?

Given that Millennials are the fastest-growing age group and now make up around 25% of the global population, it’s reasonable to assume they make up a similar proportion of international travelers.

According to Copyrise, 200,000 million global tourists are Millennials and they spend US$180 billion on travel every year.

Millennial leisure travel preferences

Millennials take a ‘you-only-live-once’ attitude to travel. They are open-minded and keen to explore, interact and experience the world.

A research paper by Eran Ketter identifies four tourism trends that Millennials are making popular: creative tourism; off-the-beaten-track tourism; alternative accommodation and fully digital tourism.

At the same time, an Expedia survey shows a more conventional side to US Millennials. More than half (53%) book their travel with an OTA and 70% stay in a hotel while on vacation, says the survey.

The majority (81%) of US Millennials took their last vacation in their own country and the most popular vacation types are relaxing, visiting family, family play and romantic getaways.

In terms of their travel personalities, looking for the best deal is important to 92% of the US Millennials surveyed. They like to explore the outdoors and be active (89%); they prefer worry-free, all-inclusive resorts (83%) and crossing off their bucket list is important to them (83%).

Solo travelers account for 18% of all global bookings. Solo travel is an increasingly popular trend across generations, but especially amongst female Millennials and female Baby Boomers.

Millennials love business trips

Millennials see business travel as a perk and an opportunity to see new places and have new experiences. A lot of this attitude is fuelled by aspirational social media images and the lifestyles of digital nomads.

Millennials, more than previous generations, are more likely to want to combine business travel with free time to explore. Corporate travel bookers should realise this and make it possible for Millennial employees to do this, rather than making them feel guilty about taking time off work.

Indeed, it is Millennial entrepreneurs who are behind new companies such as DIB Travel and TravelPerk that are changing the way business travel is planned and purchased.

How to market to Millennials

The best way to market to Millennials is via their smartphones using social media and the internet. 87% of Millennials use two or three devices every day. Nine out of ten Millennials make at least one purchase using their phone per month, and three quarters compare prices online.

Seventy-one percent of Millennials engage with social media on a daily basis. The majority (70%) use Facebook  every day (except in China where it is banned) and 63% use YouTube every day and nearly half use their smartphone camera every day.

Platforms such as TikTok are becoming increasingly important for younger Millennials and Generation Z. Some recent travel campaigns such as #DreamNowVisitLater by VisitNorway have attracted a lot of interest on TikTok .

In fact, travel marketers must remember that the oldest members of Generation Z are finishing college now and entering the workforce. Their preferred social media platforms are Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram.

Millennials like incentives and promotions

Two thirds of Millennials admit that they follow brands on Twitter or Facebook so that they can get a coupon or a discount. More than half are willing to share their personal details in order to receive an incentive, says Copyrise.

Millennials rank their dreams, aspirations and goals higher than other generations. Appearance is also important to them, so travel companies need to post online content that appeals to these desires.

More than half of Millennials’ online time is spent looking at user-generated content on blogs and review sites. So a great way to engage with your Millennial customers is to run a competition or campaign asking them for photos or reviews. But don’t forget to provide an incentive for those who participate!

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