The face of the modern traveler continues to get younger. Millennials — those ranging from 16 to 34 years of age — now account for 35 percent of travelers, according to The Boston Consulting Group. While this younger generation of adventure seekers may have limited discretionary income to put towards a travel fund, they're still making time for travel, taking more than four leisure trips per year, reports BCG.
Appeal to this younger audience by focusing some of your marketing efforts to what attracts them most. Here are seven ways tour and activity operators can market to millennials.
1. Maintain an Active Facebook Presence
Facebook can be a valuable marketing tool for small businesses targeting millennials. The Statistics Portal reveals 12 percent of those surveyed visited a business's website after seeing a promoted post on Facebook. Those who took advantage of a Facebook offer that could be redeemed at a local store was even higher: 40 percent. In the case of tour and activity operators, running a Facebook offer to complete an online booking would be the equivalent.
Whether you decide to run special promotions throughout the season, implement an online booking widget on your Facebook page, or simply share videos and snippets about your activities, staying active on Facebook will help you engage this captive audience.
2. Have a Mobile-Ready Website
According to a study by SDL, the average millennial checks their smartphone 45 times a day and is 56 percent more likely to discover content on social networks versus a search engine or even email. TheNextWeb.com shares some valuable tips for making your website mobile-friendly, highlighting the fact that the layout and design of your site must fit the small screen and images need to be compressed to ensure a fast load time.
You will also need to set up a streamlined checkout process so that it only takes a few taps and screen swipes to book a reservation. You can do this with ZOZI Advance — customers just click on a "Book It" button embedded on each section of the mobile site and are taken to a secure checkout page to complete their reservation.
3. Run Seasonal Packages
Consider that many millennials will be on summer vacation for a few months after the school year, making plans for spring break, or flocking to your area to visit family and friends during the holidays. Create seasonal packages specifically for this market and promote them on social media channels, on your website, and in marketing materials. For example, adventure tour operators could promote an "end of summer getaway" package that includes a tour and gift certificate to an area restaurant. Kayak and boat rental operators could run spring break specials throughout the spring season to attract visitors in and around the area. A food tour or ghost tour operator could run back to school specials to encourage travelers to secure a spot before school starts up again.
4. Promote a Bring-a-Friend Campaign
Word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the most effective ways to generate interest about your business. Nielsen reports 92 percent of consumers around the globe say they trust word of mouth or recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. Let your customers do the marketing for you by prompting them to bring a friend along to join the experience. This not only encourages the guest to share information about your company to that friend, but might also encourage the other party to talk about what they are doing with their friends and acquaintances.
5. Show Off Guest Experiences
Many millennials — as many as 40 percent, according to ICE Portal — are tuning in to social media and websites to consume user-generated content when making travel plans. User-generated content can take the form of everything from online reviews and ratings to photos of guests enjoying the experiences you offer.
Show off photos of guests having fun at your venue who have posted their photos on social media sites like Instagram or Facebook. You can re-post these photos and promote those happy moments to your advantage. Another option is to showcase testimonials or reviews you have received in the past week or month. Put the spotlight on rave reviews by sharing them on your website, blog, or a social media status update.
6. Run Social Media Contests
According to a Chase Card Services survey, a whopping 97 percent of millennials will post on social networks to share their experiences with their friends when traveling. In addition, 73 percent will post something at least once per day during their trip. Since these travelers are already keen to post something on social media and engage their fans and followers, join the fun by running a social media contest.
As a tour or activity operator, you could encourage guests to use certain hashtags to be entered into a drawing for a package or to respond to questions you post on social media. Encouraging guests to follow you and participate in social media conversations is a form of indirect marketing — every time a user engages with one your accounts, they leave a digital footprint where their friends and followers take notice.
7. Offer Options to Customize
Millennials aren't looking for cookie-cutter experiences — they want to be able to enjoy a unique adventure or experience they can brag about. TravelAgeWest.com reports on how all-inclusive packages are not that attractive to millennial crowds. Instead, "they want their vacations to be personal, authentic and sharable." Give your younger travelers as many options as possible when booking a trip so that they feel like they truly are enjoying something the average traveler doesn't or can't have.
Offer add-ons at checkout, such as private tour experiences, meal service, or an educational workshop or other special event. You might also offer a discount on a secondary tour or activity booked within a few days of the first one so that the traveler feels like they are customizing their experience. You can set up add-ons and special pricing using an online booking software program like ZOZI Advance. The platform allows you to create an entire list of add-ons for each tour or activity with a drop-down menu so travelers can pick and choose what they want as they check out.
From running seasonal packages to running social media contests, there are several ways you can reach out to the millennial traveler. Use these marketing tips and strategies to pique the interest and engage this active market of tech-savvy travelers in any season.