Millennial Women – The New, Experiential Travel Trailblazers

Research has shown Millennials are significantly less likely than prior generations to own homes or automobiles — and the rise of the sharing economy has only further illustrated and accelerated that point. But, the one thing Millennials are spending money on is travel. As a generation known for valuing experiences over ownership, it’s no surprise that 61% of affluent Millennials claim they “live to travel.” 

In April/May, we investigated more deeply the travel attitudes and behaviors of the affluent Americans ($125+k) we study. We re-contacted 800 respondents to our earlier study to understand their attitudes, desires, needs and expectations when it comes to travel and experiences. And when taking a cursory look at the data, Millennials appear just how one would expect. For example, 90% of affluents under 35 agree that a vacation is for learning and experiencing new things. A majority are open to the new and exotic. They enjoy traveling with friends. Comfort, pampering and food are extremely important to them. 

However, a deeper exploration of the data reveals key and fundamental differences between Millennial men and women when it comes to travel preferences and behaviors. Millennials are often perceived as travel pioneers who expect to be challenged and transformed by their experiences. Interestingly, these attitudes are not equally shared by both genders. The true trailblazers in the travel category are Millennial women. In fact, their desire to chart new territory is so pronounced that it drives the differences between Millennials and older generations. And this one point perfectly brings to light the differences between Millennial men and women.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of female Millennials say checking things off their travel list is extremely important, and this attitude drives their chase for the new and novel. When given the choice of a vacation destination they know or a destination they have never been to before, 78% of Millennial women will always choose the unfamiliar option versus the tried and true (vs. 38% for men). 

This quest for novelty influences not only the destinations Millennial women choose but the types of vacations they plan. In addition to being more likely to prefer multiple weekend trips instead of one long extended trip (in order to visit more places and do more things), 63% of Millennial women say they prefer structured itineraries while traveling. They design their vacations to fit in as many new experiences as possible. This differs from men, who much prefer unstructured time (60%).

The Millennial woman’s desire to collect destinations and experiences is so strong that it can often appear competitive in nature. A whopping 69% say they want to be the first person in their network to visit new places (compared to 44% for Millennial men), and over half share updates on social media while traveling as a way to show off their experiences and accomplishments, which their Millennial male counterparts are not doing nearly as much. 

Their hunger for novelty extends to accommodations as well. The Millennial woman is more adventurous than her male counterparts when it comes to hotels. Nearly all of them (90%) say they prefer new and unique accommodations and 58% say they like to try new hotel brands, types and styles over more traditional, familiar types. 

For these reasons, brands targeting Millennials should first of all understand the differences between men and women — and ensure they know enough to engage relevantly to women. Appeal to the Millennial women’s desire to be first. Speak to their pioneering spirit and look for ways to provide the unique opportunities they seek. However, don’t skimp on the pampering. Even when going off the beaten path, Millennial women still expect luxury services and amenities. While 60% of Millennials may say that their tastes lean towards the exotic, that doesn’t mean they want to rough it on vacation.

In addition, brands should also be sure to facilitate and amplify social sharing. Those who post while on vacation serve an important role in communicating and validating locations and brands to those who consume their social content. Millennials rely on social media platforms as sources of inspiration that help guide their decision-making process. Millennial women also turn to social media to verify the quality of a destination or activity — and, while traveling, they seek out opportunities to curate the perfect content for their personal feeds.

The article above originally appeared in the July 18, 2018 edition of MediaPost.