Travel may be a billion dollar industry, but it isn't immune to the massive changes brought on by digital technology. Much of that shift is attributed to Millennials, who as the first generation to embrace advances such as smartphones and social media, have forced a transformation in how businesses stay competitive.
The change can be seen in all aspects of vacation taking. From how one books a hotel to finding the best route or to how we share our experiences with friends - all of these are so different than they were for travelers a decade ago.
"We’re the fastest growing generation of consumers in America, and we’re gonna outspend baby boomers soon. So basically if you miss us, you’ve got no hope" - Jason Dorsey
Womensforum had a chance to speak with travel writer Kim Mott and co-founder of the Center for Generational Kinetics (and self-claimed #1 Millennials speaker and researcher in the world) Jason Dorsey about what they've found to be the most significant changes in the travel industry.
While it's true Millennials are using social media to share the highlights of their trip, Mott explained "Millennials are also complaining with those same venues. So if there’s a problem, they’re instantly reporting it to whatever brand they’re interacting with. Could be on Facebook rather than calling an 800 number."
This finding shows that companies with a keen eye for what people are saying about them online are at an advantage over companies without a digital presence, since those companies are less likely to identify unhappy customers and find a way to solve the problem.
Sharing experiences online is what social media is all about and finding those experiences is how people have come to impress their peers. Dorsey explained how millennials often seek out "paying for experiences rather than stuff and that’s particularly true in travel, which is the ultimate experience that millennials can express."
In addition to ego inflation, smartphones give travelers the ability to do things in an instant, from booking a room to finding a quicker route. While this makes traveling easier, hotels have had a tougher time keeping up with their customers' expectations for instant rewards.
Mott explained to us that "instead of waiting for points to accrue or miles to get built up, they’re wanting those things now, and they want them included in the price. So free WiFi at hotels, charging stations, things like that."
While these changes might seem like differences among age groups today, Dorsey expects older generations to start catching on to the advantages all this new tech offers.
"What’s really interesting is that every other generation is starting to expect them as well. So it has this wonderful ripple effect that we all benefit from."
The travel industry isn't alone in this change. That same technological ripple effect has appeared in business, politics, entertainment, or just about every other major institution that had a way of doing things before the first smartphone. It will be interesting to see what new changes occur as the rest of the economy catches up to the millennial generation.