Being smack bang in the middle of the millennial bracket (fresh into my thirties), it’s been interesting to experience and observe my friends navigate the shift into a digital world. Digital disruption — as you’ve probably heard it called. We are the generation who have seen the world both before and after technology became our lifeline. Unlike Baby Boomers we had the undeterred curiosity of youth, but unlike Gen-Z who were born into this digital world, we had a few growing pains catching up.
Here at Travis, we think this all translates into some interesting travel behaviour. As millennials, we know technology provides us a better way, but we’re also throwing off the shackles of legacy travel providers. You know, the ones that are running to catch up with the online world. Then a pandemic hit and forced us to rethink our view on travel all over again! But for now — let’s have a look at where we’d landed start of 2020.
Below are 8 reasons why we’re fascinated by the millennial traveller.
The promise of technology was to streamline things, yet it often leaves us overwhelmed. From working longer hours and always being switched on, no wonder we millennials love to travel. We need a break. And what’s up with all those booking aggregators (OTAs) and brands bought by other brands? Why does instant booking sound so promising, yet it takes me days and multiple visits before I can make that decision to click?
Technology has lowered barriers to entry for us all. We’re now all writers and bloggers. Everyone has an opinion (which has always been the case), but now it means anyone can publish content for all to see. There are 205 million hits for ‘melbourne city guide’ on Google — 205 million! So what sources can we trust? How do we sift through all this content? No wonder Google search is our go-to.. Even then we end up spending hours planning a trip.
After all that effort sifting through content and navigating the online world, you wouldn’t blame us for wanting to disconnect. Sometimes we miss the old days where our options were limited — like when rental choices were limited to Blockbuster shelves. So we enter the world of travel to disconnect. We’ve decided that wellness and self care is the answer, and some days are just #treatyoself days. Once an exotic getaway for the discerning traveller, yoga retreats are becoming the norm.
On the flip side — before it burns us out, endless content has made us wanting more, more, more. We were used to having our options limited for us, now we’re learning to do it ourselves. But we aren’t always successful. So what is the ‘more’ we’re actually after? Being trapped in a vicious cycle of endless content is what we’re given — but is that what we want? Our thirst for the new is causing us to turn to travel more adventurously. We’re trying to disconnect and reboot — craving authenticity while finding our own adventures. We need to get away from the endless scrolling of our social media feeds. Which we look at — Every. Single. Day.
We’re used to saying ‘there’s an app for that’. Whenever we face a problem, we whip out our phone to find a solution. Whether it’s bus tickets in Edinburgh or street art in Brooklyn. There’s usually an app to download so we can avoid traipsing around. No more wasting time to find a ticket machine or local guide to help us out. The digital world moves so quickly, we find ourselves needing to do the same.
Where you find a big public space like the internet, you’ll also find people with big opinions. Influencers have been around for a while now, but we’re still having trouble working out what’s real from their self-filtered lives. We all want to #liveourbestlife. But it’s also nice to be reminded of the realities of travel. Not everyone gets free hotel stays and sponsored trips. Sometimes we have to catch ourselves, that we too aren’t falling into the lure of the influencer lifestyle. But how do we strike that balance between inspiration, information and relatability?
With technology allowing us to rent a place through Airbnb or a car through Uber, we find less need to own big ticket items. This sharing economy takes away the burden of ownership, allowing us to spend our hard earned cash on travel instead. No wonder we look for experiences over material things. We’ve become accustomed to the freedom from material things this technology-enabled sharing economy offers us.
Solo travel. Bleisure. Career break. Babymoon. Digital nomad. The list is endless, we just love any excuse to travel. No longer do we see travel as a rare occurrence — a trip to be planned and saved up for over months or years. No longer do we see ourselves purely as tourists. Travel is now an interwoven part of our millennial life. Our above ‘always-on’ relationship with technology has made it so. To the point that if one of our friends doesn’t have travel plans, we start to wonder what’s wrong with them.
Us millennials are often misunderstood by other generations. We say one thing in a survey but do another. Our behaviours are all over the place, supposedly. But in the end, it’s pretty simple. We’re still human beings grappling with rapid technological change.
Travel as an escape is still valid. As are all the other ways travel improves us as human beings — feeding our innate curiosity, helping us connect with others, coming back to our loved ones with tales to tell. It’s just hard to reach us in the messy digital world — and we even find it hard sometimes to navigate.
The millennial approach to travel is likely us just dealing with digital disruption. We’re the first generation who started to travel with technology. But in the fast moving digital world, everything happens in extremes. Unfathomable amounts of content, booking options, accomodation options, and hyper connectivity are all issues we face. So it’s worth putting serious thought into how we can cut through the noise and make modern travel better — for the digital generation.