The word millennial is a recent buzzword everyone is so happy to use in endless connotations. The travel industry isn’t exempt from this matter, because soon enough the millennials will be the majority of travelers worldwide. There are two important questions needed to be asked. The first is, “does the Philippines appeal as a country to millennial tourists, both local and foreign?” the second question is “how will it change the face of the industry in the Philippines?”
In order to answer these questions there is first a need to outline who the millennial tourists are. The millennial generation is composing 75% of the global job market. They are more highly paid than their former generation, they marry late and the save less. The interesting feature about the fact that they save less, is that they own less property than their formers. The reason for this apparent contradiction is that the millennials would rather collect experiences over material things.
As a matter of fact, millennials travel much more than their elders. A study in USA stated that this generation is traveling almost twice as much as the average of the former generation. Those are great news to the travel industry, and also to the Philippines in general as it is around 10% of the country’s annual GDP (10.6% in 2015).
Technology based generation
This is a crucial part of the millennials’ character, he is constantly online either on a computer or on mobile phones, and he is exposed to social media as well to information. If in the past one had to rely on a travel book and a travel agent, nowadays booking is mostly done online and one don’t have to rely on a tour guide in order to get the information relevant to his destinations.
With the Philippines having some technological drawbacks, like the worst internet in Asia, and substandard tourism infrastructure, it does seem that the country is not enjoying the same increase as the other neighboring countries (China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia). Still there is an annual increase of tourists as stated by the, which means that the market is growing regarding to technological deficiencies.
Travel agencies however should not remain stale, as the millennials are well informed and savvy. Polls say that most of them book online through websites and apps, and that 85% of those who booked compared multiple websites before they did so. The Inquirer indicates that travel agencies should modernized their operation if they want to compete with the fare aggregators like of agoda.com.
They want to be independent and they want to have a say
A key element in the millennials behavior is that they aren’t willing to give up on their independence. That’s why they are reluctant to go on organized tours and prefer a personalized vacation. It is very important for this generation to gain personal experiences, and that means they will want the vacation to go hand in hand with their personal interests and hobbies.
A travel agency or tour operator that will manage to cater such services will be attractive to the millennial tourists. A flexible travel agency will fare much better than a traditional one. Allowing the customers to adjust a package is very important as the millennial clients want a unique holiday customized for them. The big picture will also become interesting as the demand of such tourists for unique product will surely yield some changes in the tours and attractions offered nowadays in the Philippines.
The millennials take the experts’ advice
This is a positive thing for professionals in the industry. This generation tend to listen less to its peers and family, and more to experts. The same research mentioned above in this post says that 30% of the millennial tourists used a travel agent for their vacation. This ratio is surprisingly higher than any other age group of tourists.
Millennials also rely heavily on blogs. The travel blogging scene is highly developed in the Philippines. There are numerous Filipino travel bloggers who cover every niche imaginable. This can be a channel to reach the millennial tourists, for many hotels, tour operators and even travel agencies. Collaborating with bloggers is more effective than traditional advertising, and a modern approach to get the exposure for your business.
They want to immerse themselves in the local culture
The millennials in many cases don’t want to feel like tourists. A part of the experience for them is to enjoy many things the way the locals do. They want to eat local food, meet local people, get familiar with the culture, and they want the trip to be educational. They Philippines as a country offers all of the above to tourists, foreign and local alike. Every province has a unique culture with its own language, history, customs and food. Actually, many millennial tourists choose their destination in order to experience a specific culture.
Moreover, it is safe to say that the Philippines is a country which welcomes foreigners easily. People here are among the friendliest in the world, and the service level in the country is among the highest. Beside of that, the complexity of our culture is fascinating and still didn’t get the exposure to the outer world it truly deserves. Travel agencies should capitalized on those attributes of the Philippines when reaching out to potential clients as part of marketing campaigns or sales.
Those who want to prevail the changes in the industry will need to create new and more complex products. The fact that this generation of travelers have easy access to information will diminish the traditional information based tours, and will bring forth a new trend in the tourism world, the interactive and experience based products. Tours and packages that cater to specific interests and hobbies will be more attractive to this type of travelers.
Group tours are coming back in fashion
This is not the usual organized tour of the past. Many millennials are staying single until a very late age, and in many cases prefer to travel without companions, as they want to meet new people along the way. A group gives solutions to two issues that associated with traveling alone. It immediately introduces between strangers who share some interests in common, and it takes away the dangers of solo traveling.
This development already impacted the industry, as many of these people prefer to stay in hostels and communal accommodation. Many hostels nowadays offer private rooms as well, and even serious hotel chains like Hilton are starting to look into this market that was ignored until recently. Social accommodation is also sought out by many millennials choosing to travel solo, and they do so for the company and not for budget reasons.
Other than accommodation, there is a rising need for group tours and packages from travel agents and operators. This is going to be another challenge for local agencies who are more traditional.