How to Connect with and Sell to Millennial Travel Clients
Written by: Amanda Bailey on September 27, 2016
What’s the first word that comes to your mind when you hear the term “millennial”?
Is it entitled? Spoiled? Impatient? Narcissistic?
These are pretty common complaints about millennials, or those who were born between the late 1970s and 1995. On the surface, these may seem like travel clients you’d want to avoid.
However, there’s more to this generation than the media lets on. Now, more than one-in-three American workers today are millennials, the largest percentage of the U.S. workforce. Their strength in numbers also translates to strength in buying power. In fact, 25% of new millionaires in the U.S. are millennials.
On top of that, this age group is more likely to use a travel agent than any other. By ignoring millennials, travel agents could be losing out on valuable, lifelong clients. Winning them over requires a basic understanding of the challenges millennials face, and the strengths and characteristics they embody.
1. Know their values.
Millennials are the most diverse generation to date, and they want to work and connect with a diverse group of people. They are more open-minded, which means that are receptive to new ideas and lifestyles. Authenticity is also important to them. They want to work with real people, not a faceless business.
When selling: Show diversity in your marketing materials and on social media. When talking to them about destinations, it’s as much about the people as it is the amenities and the location. Rather than directly ask them for referrals (this is an obvious grab for sales), offer to help out any friends or family who might be traveling soon.
2. Understand their challenges.
While they are the most educated generation, millennials also have the most debt of any age group. This has severely impacted their ability and desire to make major investments (weddings, homes, children) and in fact, most millennials don’t see retirement in their future. Why is this beneficial for travel agents? Because millennials are the only generation that puts off these big life events in order to travel. Debt is a fact of life, so why bother waiting until later in life to explore? The term “YOLO” might make your skin crawl, but it’s an accurate expression of the millennial mindset.
When selling: The experience of travel is everything to millennial. They want a story to tell. When making recommendations, think outside the box. Look for unique excursions, dining options and other distinctive experiences that will make them feel like VIPs.
3. Treat them with respect.
The biggest mistake you can make with a millennial is to refer to them as a millennial. Or call them “kid” or “son”. Here’s the thing: Millennials are well aware of the stereotypes made about their generation. For an agent to lump their millennial clients together is not just condescending, it could come across as rude. No two travel clients are alike, even if they are the same age.
When selling: Avoid making assumptions about your millennials clients’ needs and wants. For instance, don’t recommend a property to them because “you send all your honeymoon couples there and they love it.” Millennials want to feel unique, so instead tell them that you’ve put together some options just for them…even if it’s a package you’ve put together dozens of times.
4. Be User-Friendly.
It is absolutely not true that millennials are more tech-savvy than previous generations. Most of the technology they use has already been created for them; what they want is a completely user-friendly experience. What does this mean? A website that’s uncluttered and easy to navigate. Emails that are simple, clean and not bogged down with sales pitches and tons of information all at once. The fewer clicks — and the fewer steps — there are to working with you, the better.
When selling: A perfect way to put millennials at ease when meeting in person is to share your screen. If you’re at a desk, turn your monitor so they can follow along with you as you’re talking. If you’re on-the-go, bring your laptop or tablet along so you can show them photos of the destinations you’re describing. Do NOT let a screen be a barrier between you.
5. Communication should be straightforward – and on their terms.
Millennials don’t want to answer the phone if they don’t know who is calling, and why. It’s the same reason why they won’t open an email unless they think there’s something in it for them. They’ve grown up with so many different forms of communication — texting, Skype, email, social media — that they’ve become experts at filtering and tuning out what isn’t important to them.
When selling: Millennials prefer texting to calling, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get them on the phone. They just want to call you when it’s convenient for them. The solution is to send them a text explaining why they need to call you back. Similarly, the subject lines of your emails to them should convey the reason why they need to read what’s inside.
Millennial travel clients represent a huge opportunity for agents: they want to spend money on travel, and they want to take trips that are personally crafted for them. Learn how to engage them and build their trust, and you’ll have clients for life.
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