Millennials’ major impact


More and more “millennials,” people aged 18 to 35, took overseas trips, according to hoteliers surveyed. Not surprisingly, when travelling abroad these Gen-Ys are more likely than their older counterparts to favour adventure, cheaper accommodation, independent travel and digital sources when booking and making travel decisions.


Fifty-nine percent of all hoteliers surveyed say they’ve experienced an increase in Chinese guests aged 35 or below to their properties in the past year. This trend is especially strong in the APAC region, where 78 percent testify to an increase. Overall, 38 percent of the hoteliers report that growth in the number of millennial travellers has been between 11 percent and 25 percent.


Millennials’ main reasons for travelling are leisure (91 percent) and business (43 percent), but almost one in five visit friends or relatives. Nine percent of the sub-category aged 31 -35 go abroad for beauty treatments or cosmetic surgery compared with four percent of travellers of all age groups.


Of significance for the cruise industry is that 15 percent of Chinese millennials pick a holiday afloat somewhere in the world in the past 12 months, compared with 12 percent of all travellers surveyed.


Millennials’ most favoured activities are sightseeing, dining, shopping and visiting resorts and beaches, in that order.


But – perhaps reflecting a growing awareness of social responsibility and the environment in their homeland – “taking part in eco-tours” ranks fifth, with one in five rating this as their favourite activity. Fourteen percent of millennials like visiting museums and cultural events most.


The CITM research again belies the general perception that most Chinese tourists like to travel in groups. Younger millennials aged 18 to 25 favour more independent travel when going abroad for leisure, with 58 percent liking this freer option. Conversely, 81 percent of the older sub-category, aged 46 to 54, prefer organised travel, including package, theme, “eco” and private luxury tours.


Relying less on travel agents


For help in making their travel decisions, millennials use a range of resources, and rely less on travel agents than others. Almost half use word of mouth and review sites as well as online accommodation websites. Forty-four percent rely on word of mouth when planning trips and 30 percent use social media as a source.


Clearly, the younger sub-category of millennials is more adventurous and budget-conscious than the rest of their millennial compatriots. Fifteen percent of travellers aged 18-25 book into hostels and backpacker venues, compared with 7 percent of all Chinese millennials. And 38 percent of the 18 to 25-year-olds prefer “independent hotels with local flavour” compared with 33 percent of the total group.


Young Chinese travellers appear to be generally open-minded about staying in hotels that might not focus on catering for their specific cultural and other needs. While two-thirds (66 percent) of all millennial travellers prefer to book accommodation that cater “specifically for travellers like me,” they also consider other options. In fact, just
25 percent insist on only booking this kind of accommodation.


Naturally they have less cash than their older counterparts, spending an average of 3,120 RMB (US$503) a day in total on their accommodation, food, shopping, entertainment and so on while all travellers spent 3,324 RMB (US$536). The 46-to 54-year-olds shell out 4,054 RMB (US$653) including accommodation.


Safety less of a concern


Interestingly, in a world in which concerns about terrorism are growing, millennials seem relatively unfazed about safety issues. In last year’s CITM, almost half of all respondents cited safety as their primary concern when travelling. Yet the millennials surveyed this year rank it as a relatively low priority, with only nine percent rating it as the most important consideration when choosing accommodation. Young millennials aged 18 to 25 value easy access to public transport above safety as the most important factor when doing so.


Unsurprisingly, almost one in five (19 percent) of 18 to 20-year-olds book into hostels and backpacker accommodation while only one in 10 (9 percent) book a five-star hotel. Three-star hotels are the most popular option, however, among all millennials when travelling overseas.


Wi-Fi wanted


As is to be expected of children of the digital age, Wi-Fi ranks highly as a key hotel amenity, with 63 percent of the millennial group, and 70 percent of the 18 to 20-year-olds, regarding it as important, just below the presence of an
on-site restaurant (rated important by 66 percent) and above room service (49 percent).


No doubt reflecting their greater budget consciousness, this group as a whole is smarter in using loyalty programme points for accommodation bookings. Fifty-five percent make use of loyalty programmes compared with 47 percent of all travellers and 91 percent consult price-comparison websites compared with 88 percent of those aged 36 to 54. Obviously mobile planning and booking rates highly. Fifty percent of the entire millennial group use mobile phones to plan and organise trips.


Meanwhile, the outlook for the travel-spending potential of the Gen-Ys remains positive, as the hoteliers’ survey demonstrates.

Thirty-one percent of hoteliers expect to see an increase in Chinese guests aged 35 or below of between 11 percent and25 percent, and just under one in five think growth will be between 26 percent and 50 percent.