Another day, another survey about Millennials. And for travel businesses looking to target people aged between 18 and 34, it's getting confusing.
Adara is behind the latest research, looking at the preferences of British Millennials and comparing them with their counterparts in other mature markets.
Interestingly for a business such as Adara which has access to first-party online data and a proprietary intelligence platform, the results are based on a survey and focus groups. However, its own data is used to compare Millennial behaviour with other demographics.
[See update below]
The Brits questioned by Adara's research partner Db5 are atypical, in that each participant will have taken three trips over the past twelve months.
When it comes to purchase patterns, 43% of Brits are buying direct with the airline, a higher proportion of airline dotcom users than in America (34%) and France (40%).
Instinctively, this 43% seems a bit low, in a market when leaders such as Ryanair and easyJet are virtually direct-only businesses.
In terms of the hotels, it is the intermediaries who hold sway with Brits, with 27% opting for hotel dotcoms compared with 54% choosing general travel web sites.
Instinctively, this 27% seems a bit high, in a market where OTAs have strong consumer-facing brands and hotels are investing heavily to increase their own direct bookings.
The survey also found that 28% of Millennial Brits had stayed in a house or apartment rental in the past year, around one-in-four (23%) of the over 35s opted for Airbnb-type options.
This is higher than a study released this week which said that only 12% of Brits have stayed in alternative accommodation.
And there are other findings from this specific sample which raise some eyebrows. For example, it appears Millennials are planning ahead more than older travellers, starting their search for flights 13 days in advance of booking compared to nine days for the older travellers. This seems counter-intuitive as the assumption is that younger travellers have fewer ties and can be more spontaneous.
And we know that 18-34-year-olds have a different rationale for travelling than other demographics, but the finding that "92% love to travel to new places, 90% want new experiences and 77% want to go off the beaten track" seems a bit high. Doesn't this demographic like to go back to somewhere they had a good time?
It is bad news for established destinations who are trying to build up a loyal customer base for the future.
"Millennials" is a term which is easy to be dismissive of and it could be argued that the same caveat applies to any age-based breakdown. The preferences of a nineteen-year-old compared with someone in their early thirties are likely to be different, making it hard to generalise.
Throw in the difference between a 21-year-old graduate in London burdened by student debt and an impossible housing market and a 32-year-old banker living with his or her parents in a tiny flat in Kuala Lumpur and the picture becomes even more confused.
It is an interesting disconnect in travel that at the same time as striving towards personalization there is still a lot of talk based on generalisations.
Millennials, like Boomers, Silver Surfers and Gen Z, are easy to identify but difficult to pin down.
UPDATE 13 JUNE 2016
Adara has responded:
"We employed a three pronged methodology in conducting the millennial traveler research. Our behavioral data was utilized to better understand the travel planning timelines for millennial travelers versus older adults. And, while ADARA has access to an impressive amount of behavioral data that gets at search and booking information, we wanted to better understand these mindsets and behaviors. The qualitative research provided more insight into millennial travelers attitudes and behaviors which we further quantified with the online survey research."
NB Image by BigStock.com
Related reading from Tnooz:
Expedia, Millennials and the pattern recognition business (April 2016)
Is it time to move on from Millennials and put some thought to Gen Z? (April 2016)
The who, where and why on Millennials and travel (April 2016)
Sabre: Millennials may be the largest hotel spenders as soon as 2017 (March 2016)