As a nation, the US is in the midst of a season of change. And it is the millennial generation that is behind the conversations taking place.
NB: This is a guest article by Joah Spearman, CEO and co-founder at Localeur.
Our collective obsession with authenticity, curation and design through social media has made the world a more open and connected place (shout-out to Zuck) while democratizing information like never before (thanks, Google).
All these factors point to one truth in travel: the greatest development over the past 50 years hasn’t been commercial flights or vacation rentals or online travel agencies, but something that’s at once broader and more personal.
It’s been us millennials.
Impressions of millennial travel
"Currently the travel industry’s most influential customer, Millennials are becoming more and more responsible for changing the way that we travel. A generation that has never experienced life without computers, Millennials have come to expect everything to be available anywhere, anytime.”
“Consumers — especially tech-savvier ones raised in the Facebook era — want an experience that is fun and personalized. Something they can share or even brag about.”
Millennials see travel as a necessity not a luxury. It expands our horizons - educationally, politically, romantically and professionally.
Americans take a lesson from Europeans
Europeans have benefited from the gap year for, well, years – but now Americans are expressing a much greater interest in international travel.
Travel is a significant way for young Americans to have their perspectives broadened on various issues, from public transportation (plenty more biking in Amsterdam than Dallas) to same-sex marriage (Canada legalized gay marriage a full decade before the United States).
Dating apps such as Tinder make it easier to find a mate almost anywhere in the world while LinkedIn makes it easier to browse your network for geographical connections.
The gap year generates a lifelong interest in travel for Europeans.
In America, where an emphasis has long been placed on working hard, long hours, earning steadily increasing wages throughout our careers and saving time off for retirement, we’re only recently learning the value of leaving our home cities and experiencing what the rest of the world has to offer.
Experience local, not tourism
The #experiencelocal sentiment here at Localeur and our peers summarises the best kind of travel: authentic, personal, social and rooted in embracing change. This is integral to the way that travel is changing.
For us millennials, this idea took shape through ignoring the advice of our parents. And despite our having to navigate the global slowdown, the millennial generation’s propensity to travel has sharpened.
This proves that we’re wired a little differently, that we love risk-taking and adventuring and, most of all, that we live for the life lessons that come from travel, valuing it as highly as job promotions and home ownership.
Business and personal travel, transformed
When our parents’ generation traveled for business, it was often carried out dutifully and with disdain – as in, “Darn, I have to fly to Buffalo next Tuesday”.
But a 2014 study by Expedia found that millennials are 62% more likely than older employees to extend a business trip into a vacation. For a millennial, that may mean stretching that Buffalo work trip over the weekend and taking a drive cross-border to Canada.
Millennials have eschewed the chain restaurants, corporate hotels, rental cars and bucket-list attractions and breathed new life into travel.
We maximize our time in a new place by sniffing out hidden gems - more fun than checking TripAdvisor’s tired round-up of attractions off our lists?
The apps that changed travel: Instagram, Airbnb and Uber
Understanding millennials is no cookie-cutter proposition, though.
There are a few other companies both big and small that truly represent the new wave of travel for millennials.
Instagram isn’t a travel company, but talk to most millennial travelers and the app will come up rather quickly in conversation.
Why? Because Instagram is a new way to share the social and geographic anecdotes about your travels. Anyone who thought the app was just a hipster’s take on amateur photography has surely changed their tune in the last 18 months.
Since its founding in 2009, Airbnb has established the world’s largest and most millennial-savvy marketplace for travel accommodations.
Today, you can also access thousands of uniquely designed and locally owned homes. Your business trips may still be the same as they always were, but your digs can be tailored to your tastes, and you can root yourself in a neighborhood rather than the corporate hub of the city.
And millennials have built Airbnb from the ground up; the founders are all in their early-to-mid 30s.
Getting to and from accommodations and destinations is simple – just call a private car via Uber or Lyft with your smartphone.
That’ll sure beat standing on the corner waiting for a taxi like we used to.
Choosing where to go
You’ve got a great resource for finding a place to stay and an easier way to get around the city – which means all you need now is advice on where to go.
“A local business without online recommendations is at a major disadvantage. But getting the right reviewers is just as important as getting the right reviews.”
Hotels, airlines, tech startups – they’re all taking notice of the power of local. More importantly, they’re moving past the awareness stage and taking steps to embrace the authenticity in experiences we millennials want.
The global success of Airbnb and Uber prove we are not a fickle generation; we will be loyal to the companies that deliver on the things we want.
NB: This is a guest article by Joah Spearman, CEO and co-founder at Localeur. It is an edited version of an essay which was posted onto the Localeur blog. Click here to read the full version.
NB2:Millennials image via Shutterstock