The New Vacationer

A recent survey shows how millennials are taking over – and redefining – travel.

If you know anything about millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1997, it’s probably this: They’re savvy with technology, and they’re taking over the workplace. But how much do you know about how they like to travel?

To find out, Hipmunk, a travel search website, recently polled three generations—millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers—about their travel preferences. The results not only highlight the ways the generations differ, they also give insight into how vacation rental managers can cater to the ever-important millennials, a group that recently surpassed baby boomers as the largest living generation in the U.S.

A New Way to Travel

One of the biggest takeaways from the survey is that millennials are changing the overall trends in travel—in part by mixing business travel with leisure travel. Fifty-five percent of millennials said they would extend a business trip into a leisure trip—an occurrence that’s come to be known as “bleisure.” This is a stark contrast from other generations: just 28 percent of Gen Xers and 25 percent of baby boomers would do the same.

Another way millennials are rewriting the rules of travel is in their preferred accommodations. Millennials are choosing vacation rentals over traditional hotels at higher rates than any other generation—44 percent of millennials said they prefer to stay in vacation rentals. Roxy Young, vice president of marketing for Hipmunk, says this trend may grow even more as companies catch up. “We’ll start to see this evolve as companies evolve their travel policies for what is an acceptable accommodation during travel,” says Young.

Bargain Hunters

Millennials are redefining travel in ways beyond where and when they like to travel. More so than other generations, millennials identify themselves as so-called travel hackers, meaning they know the best ways to save money on travel and get the itinerary they want. “This largely speaks to their level of comfort with technology, the internet and how to find information on the internet,” says Young. “They sure know where to go.”

What’s more, millennials are putting a priority on meeting their life goals. A whopping 60 percent say they plan to check off a “bucket list” destination in 2016. Young says this is in part due to millennials’ desire to make memories when traveling—something vacation rental managers are particularly poised to help them do. “Part of creating those memories is having an authentic experience that’s less like a tourist and more like they’re really experiencing what it’s like to be in that area and experiencing it more authentically,” says Young. “VRs in particular are very well positioned to help that traveler have an authentic experience.”

Finally, and perhaps not surprisingly, millennials care about being connected. Forty-one percent say Wi-Fi is the most important in-flight amenity, and only 8 percent said they would take a leisure trip without gadgets, compared with 11 percent of Gen Xers and 24 percent of baby boomers.

“Some of the other generations view not being connected as a way to escape and get away from the stress of their everyday lives, whereas the millennial generation views being connected as a key part of sharing their experience as it’s happening with others,” says Young.

As millennials continue to advance in the workplace and travel more, vacation rental managers will do well to cater to this key generation—one that already values vacation rentals. 

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