Over 60 Millennial Travel Statistics (2020)
Millennials recently overtook Baby Boomers as the largest generation, making up 31.5% of the population. They also represent significant buying power, which makes them an appealing target for travel and tourism companies.
Millennials differ significantly from previous generations, which has forced travel companies to re-evaluate their offerings. Unlike other generations, millennials prefer to focus on experiences that feel authentic and true to the culture of the place they’re visiting. They tend to use social media and trust the word of influencers to accumulate information much more than traditional advertising. They also prefer planning their own trips.
To fully capitalize on this generation’s $200 billion spending power, companies need to adapt the information to their new buying trends. We’ve compiled the most important statistics on how millennials travel to help you understand what this market really wants. By adapting your services and information output to millennial travel trends, you can capture the fastest-growing generation of 2020.
Where Do Millennials Travel?
To date, very few companies have looked at global destination statistics and information for millennials. The most comprehensive set of information data currently is from the travel-planning site, muvTravel, which compiled a list of Top 30 destinations for millennials in 2019 (6).
The top ten destinations listed include:
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
- Cinque Terre, Italy
- Utah National Parks, USA
- Luberon, France
- Puglia, Italy
- Riga, Latvia
- Bagan, Myanmar
- Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Similar surveys done by other travel websites confirm that most millennials want to travel to exciting and exotic destinations, including Morocco, Portugal, Indonesia, and Turkey.
What this list suggests is that millennials prefer travel experiences that are unique, authentic, and cultural. Instead of hitting up top tourist hot-spots, millennials prefer to find hidden gems. Instead of polished resorts that stick out like a sore thumb, millennials prefer to travel to unspoiled locations that offer challenging and novel experiences.
Unlike Baby Boomers, 43% of whom plan to travel both internationally and domestically, and most millennials prefer to stay in-country. (2) 79% of all US millennial travel is domestic, with only 33% planning an international vacation in the next two years. (1)
The top domestic destination for 2020 is Hawaii, though several others are coming up on the rise, including:
- Portland, Maine
- Denver, Colorado
- Detroit, Michigan
- Savannah, Georgia
One of the most telling millennial travel statistics is that 69% of millennials will take weekend trips, as opposed to only 13% from the Boomer generation. Combine this information with the fact that millennials spend as much on travel as past generations, and you can see why they’re rapidly becoming the most critical generation to pay attention to when it comes to domestic travel.
How Much Do Millennials Spend on Travel?
US millennials spent $200 billion on travel in 2018, and this number will rise in the coming years. According to information from Winspire, 33% of millennials plan to spend $5,000 or more on their vacations. When it comes to millennial families, this number goes up to $6,282, on average. (2)
55% of millennials want to increase their volume of trips in the coming years. Almost 75% of millennials surveyed said they’d prefer to stop buying physical products to increase their travel spending, again pointing to the trend of experiences over physical goods. (40
The average summer vacation budget for American millennials comes to around $1,373 without airfare, which is slightly less than both Gen X ($2,628) and Baby Boomers ($1,865). (10) However, as millennials continue to book more trips than previous generations, the trend appears to show that millennials will be spending more in total on vacations in the future. Statistics show that millennials are more likely to take weekend trips, and these can add up to significantly more spending over any given period.
Why Do Millennials Love to Travel So Much?
When it comes to what millennials are looking for from a vacation, the answer seems to be: authentic, cultural experiences packed with information and discovery. Millennials tend to steer away from traditional tourist traps, instead preferring to immerse themselves in their destinations.
According to a recent survey, 86% of millennials travel to experience new cultures, as opposed to 44% who view travel as a party destination, and 28% who want to go shopping in a new country. (5) Approximately 76% of millennials want to learn exciting information about the place they’re visiting and enjoy informative tours.
Up to 62% of millennials have extended their business trips, turning them into cultural, information-packed vacations as well. Compared to other generations, millennial travelers are more likely to seek out destinations that have historical or cultural importance.
One of the most recent travel trends is that of responsible travel. (7) Many travel destinations have embraced sustainability, in the economic, environmental, and social sense, as the primary benchmark for the tourism business.
How Do Millennials Travel, Group or Solo?
When it comes to traveling habits, statistics show that millennials are also breaking away from traditional expectations. Almost 60% of all millennials are willing to travel alone, and a quarter of them already have. (3) However, despite this willingness, over 58% prefer to travel with their friends, and 40% will do so in the next 12 months.
As millennials get older, they start having children of their own. 44% of millennials traveled with their children in 2017, and 50% intend to take a family vacation in the next two years. (1) A full 25% of millennials want to take a family vacation overseas, while others prefer to stay close to home.
In general, this is the generation that wants to travel to be an enriching experience packed with new information, instead of just being an excuse to be sociable. While many millennials say they don’t mind traveling alone, the statistics show that the majority still end up traveling with either friends or family.
How Does Social Media Impact Booking Trips?
The millennial generation grew up bombarded by advertising and came of age in the rise of the internet and social media. These factors have shaped how millennials respond to marketing, as well as how they get information when planning their trips.
Social media has a significant impact on millennial travel statistics. Around 97% of millennials will share their trip with friends on social media, with 40% doing their best to create an idealized version of their vacation online. (8)
When it comes to finding information about bookings, most millennials prefer to go online to get advice. 84% will base their booking decision on user-generated content, such as comments and reviews, while 79% will get information from their friends. (4)
These statistics will directly affect the way destinations market themselves. Many locations have set up ‘selfie-stations’ that encourage people to take selfies and upload them online. The travel industry as a whole appears to be moving away from staged or stock photos. Instead, it’s letting the experience speak for itself. Millennials are sensitive to inauthentic information and will appreciate a more life-like representation of a destination.
These statistics don’t just apply to western millennials, either. Chinese millennials will look at an average of 5.1 online information sources before booking, and millennials worldwide do a lot more research than their non-millennial counterparts. (8)
How Do Millennial Travelers Use Their Smartphone?
Millennials tend to do a lot more research on travel information than any other generation. This trend also applies to travel, where 85% will check multiple travel sites for information about the best possible deal. (4)
At the center of this frenzy of researching information, planning, and booking, is the smartphone. In addition to searching for online travel sites, around 66% will eventually book their trip information on their mobile phone. 74% will search for travel-related information and install travel apps on their smartphone.
Despite their extensive use of apps and smartphones to find information, most millennial travelers say they’re disappointed by the experience of using an online travel app. (5) Most online travel agencies provide a lackluster experience with very little information on mobile devices, which can drive disappointed millennials onto another platform.
Why Do Millennials Travel so Much?
The four primary reasons for travel, according to millennials, are: (1)
- Get away from ordinary life (55%)
- Visit other people (50%)
- Spend time with family (45%)
- Romantic getaways (34%)
Approximately 49% of millennial travel is due to last-minute vacation choices, and 69% of millennials surveyed regret not taking a last-minute trip. While only 20% of millennials travel internationally, at least 75% report that they want to travel abroad as much as possible. Also, many millennial travelers want to experience more from life, with almost a quarter wanting to form friendships while on vacation. (4)
According to a New Horizons survey, millennials want to travel to get new information and to increase their happiness. The study identified the three main drivers of successful vacations as activities, destination, and length. (9)
Surprisingly, the more activities and experiences packed into a trip, the more successful it was. The ideal length of a vacation appears to be around one month, giving people enough time to do everything they want, while still having enough time to relax and enjoy the new location. Travel destinations that promoted the most joy included Mexico, Japan, and Peru.
Overall, the general information trend shows that traveling outside of the local region leads to higher levels of happiness than vacations close to home. A large part of this could be the unique travel experiences that enrich any vacation, which can’t be found close to home.
How Do Millennials Book Travel?
Millennials spend much more time finding information about their destination than any other generation. They also tend to use close, neutral information sources like family and friends to help make their decision about travel destinations.
Around 61% used travel providers, opinion sites, and agents to gather information in the research stage, with another 50% using social media, family, and friends. Once they’ve narrowed down their choices, they’ll refer to travel forums, review websites, and blogs to validate their choice and get even more information before booking. (9)
Surprisingly, in this age of DIY information gathering, many millennials still use travel agents for information and help with booking. 61% of travelers got information from travel providers, and a significant portion then proceeded to use the agency to plan their itinerary.
When it comes to online bookings, only a small portion (13%) think that online booking isn’t as safe as direct booking. Money is still king though, and 77% will choose travel providers on price, rather than security or user-friendly design. (4)
Despite the rise of Airbnb, which appears targeted explicitly at millennial travel, 58% still prefer full-service hotels. According to the information online, only 11% of millennials like owner-direct rental services like Airbnb, and will only use it because it’s more affordable than other options.
How Do Millennials Use Hotel Booking Rewards?
Almost every single major hotel chain has a loyalty program of some kind to entice travelers to book direct. Millennials are traveling more than ever and will make up to 50% of the business trips market in 2020, so hotels have a large incentive in keeping these customers loyal.
Most loyalty programs include strong incentives to stay at the same hotel during repeat trips. Repeat bookings are the lifeblood of any hotel chains and, combined with word of mouth, can lead to significantly increased revenues.
As we mentioned before, more than half of millennials still prefer full-service hotels to alternative forms of accommodation. 35% of these will seek out premium hotels for upmarket travel experiences. Many millennials will choose their hotel booking based on images on social media, as well as reviews and recommendations from friends and family. (3)
When it comes to booking rewards, 41% of millennials joined a loyalty program because it was easy to use, and 68% will stay with a program where they have a lot of points accumulated. Few millennials will ever cancel a loyalty membership, as 75% say they’ll remain loyal to a hotel brand even if they lost their reward points.
The top reward categories that influence which brand millennials choose include:
- VIP upgrades
- Extra amenities
One of the most potent drivers of millennial spending is FOMO or the fear of missing out. Hotels can take advantage of this by offering limited-time discounts and flash sales to capitalize on millennial FOMO.
What Services Do Millennials Want from the Travel Industry?
When it comes to millennial travel trends, one of the main drivers for the generation is convenience. More than 75% of millennials will pay for premium services such as:
- Real-time baggage tracking
- Temporary luggage check
- Curbside rental car pickup
36% of millennials approve of automated check-ins, compared to 19% from the previous generation. When traveling, 60% will pay for in-flight services such as:
- Seat charging
- Early deplaning
In addition to these amenities, the travel industry could also offer additional services to entice millennial travel. In a recent survey, 68% of millennials said they wanted a service that would let them split the cost of travel with others in a group booking, and many would like a service that suggested vacations based on personality rather than budget.
57% of millennials would be happy to exchange personal data for personalized holidays, tips, and advice, while 16% would be willing to part with personal data for discounts on travel and accommodation.
Almost half of all millennial travelers prefer to interact with customer service via instant messaging or social media rather than dealing with a person face-to-face.
The Take-Home Message
These statistics paint an exciting picture of millennial travelers in 2020 and beyond. In addition to having almost $200 billion to spend, millennials represent a change in the way the travel industry operates and presents information to the public.
One of the critical statistics we found is that over 95% of millennials refer to Facebook, Instagram, or some form of social media to get information about their destination. In addition to information research, social media represents a place to get validation for their choices, so you must tap into this new and expanding information market.
How best to be successful when marketing to millennial travelers? You should sound authentic when communicating information to them. Listen to what they’re saying and use this information to promote your brand without sounding forced or desperate.
Smartphone statistics indicate that they’re the primary mode of technology that millennial travelers use to interact with the digital world. It’s how they get their information, as well as how they plan their entire trip.
An analysis of smartphone statistics shows that 86% aren’t happy with their mobile travel booking experience. Spend some time polishing your app and website, and enjoy the increased traffic and improved customer loyalty.
Millennials are susceptible to authenticity. They don’t want false-sounding advertising, stock photos of beautiful beaches, or misleading information. Instead, they want to see an authentic experience. Encourage travelers to put user-generated content on your website and social media page to cultivate an image of an authentic cultural experience that millennials will love.
Loyalty rewards are an excellent way to encourage repeat business in a traveler. Millennials can be extremely loyal, especially if you offer the type of rewards they want. Focus on VIP exclusives, free stuff, money, and extra amenities, and enjoy having a customer for life.