The tourism sector has been one of the most severely hit by the pandemics and is still struggling to recover. However, things are changing fast. Millennials and digital natives want to travel in a different way: not as packaged tourists, but as locals. And that means staying away from mass-produced hotels, restaurants and activities and looking for more authentic experiences. We are witnessing a shift in demand from “mass” tourism to “alternative” or “experiential” tourism among millennials. These travelers seek out unique experiences that are personal, memorable, authentic and local — not generic tourist attractions or staged activities. In this blog post we explore these trends and their implications for the future of travel."
Millennials: A New Generation of Travelers
The top of the travel pyramid is always dominated by young people, but the millennials are an especially important group. The term “millennial” refers to anyone born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, and as such they account for almost a third of the global workforce. The travel industry has been hit by the pandemics, so these travellers are key to its future health. Millennials are not just a bunch of optimistic youngsters who love to travel – they wield great spending power and have distinctive travel habits. In the past decade, millennials have grown more responsible and prosperous. They are a generation that is characterized by high expectations and low patience, so they are less willing to accept poor service or mediocre products and venues. These travellers are tech-savvy and have high expectations about being connected. Millennials also want authentic, engaging and immersive experiences. They love to try new things, enjoy being part of a community and want to be inspired. This new generation of travellers is more likely to share their experiences and advice, thanks to social networks and review sites.
The Sharing Economy: Collaborative Consumption
“Collaborative consumption” describes a way of life where individuals make use of their assets (both tangible and intangible) to provide services, help or advice to others or to rent out their property. Some examples of this include car-sharing, home-sharing and peer-to-peer travel advice. These services have existed for a while, but they have been greatly improved by technology – especially mobile apps and social networks, which make them easy to use and promote. Collaborative travel is one of the most relevant examples of collaborative consumption in the travel industry. It has been around for a while and is becoming increasingly popular, especially among millennials. It consists of using online platforms to share travel experiences and advice with like-minded people.
A Changing Nature of Travelling and Travellers
As we have seen, the nature of travelling and travellers is changing. This is reflected in the way people behave and make decisions when choosing a destination and a way of travelling. The “new tourist” is looking for a different experience, one that is more personal and focused on authenticity. This type of tourist is more likely to travel to areas that are not extremely popular but have a unique cultural identity and authentic experiences that cannot be found elsewhere. This new kind of tourist will look for a more authentic experience, but also for a more affordable one. This means that destinations that have been neglected for decades due to wars or political issues will start to see a rise in visitor numbers, as tourists are interested in their authenticity and their cultural heritage.
Confidence in the Tourism Industry
A survey by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in 2018 found that confidence in the tourism industry has risen to its highest level since the pandemics. This is a result of tourists seeing the benefits of travelling again, such as improving their health and wellbeing, exploring new places and cultures, and building new relationships with locals. Tourism is also a strong economic driver, creating jobs and income for people around the world. It has the potential to create 20 million new jobs by 2030, lifting many out of poverty and providing them with better living conditions. Tourism is an important economic sector that generates revenues, drives economic growth and creates employment worldwide. The travel and tourism industry is estimated to have grown by an average of 4.5% each year since 2000, compared with the global average of 2.9%. The industry was worth $8.6 trillion in 2017 and is expected to grow to $13 trillion by 2030.
Pandemics hit the tourism industry hard, but tourists are now recovering. There has been a shift in demand from “mass” tourism to “alternative” or “experiential” tourism among millennials, who are looking for unique experiences that are personal and local. This new type of tourist is also looking for a cheaper experience, meaning that certain destinations will see tourism growth. The sharing economy, a change in the nature of travelling and a growing confidence in the tourism industry are all contributing to a brighter future for tourism. In the next decade, we might see an entirely new way of travelling.