Are we getting millennials all wrong?

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As Thomas Cook rethinks the future of its iconic Club 18-30 brand, perhaps the travel industry has failed to keep up with what younger people want from travel, says Sam Ballard.

Last month, Hostelworld released research which said that 24 per cent of millennials book their holidays for cultural experiences over any other reason. That compared to just three per cent who said that they go on holiday to party.

As if to back that up, the research came at the same time that travel giant Thomas Cook said they were rethinking the future of their iconic Club 18-30 youth brand. It would seem, at least to many onlookers, that young people are breaking the mould set by previous generations.

According to recent newspaper reports, 42 per cent of millennials say they are drinking less alcohol and there has been a 40 per cent rise in young teetotallers. Does this mean that holiday companies have actually been marketing to millennials incorrectly? It’s interesting to see how some of the specialists have been doing things.

In our May edition of Cruise Adviser, Sara Macefield spent a few days travelling on U by Uniworld – the new river line specifically being aimed at the millennial market. On board, guests take yoga classes and use the free wi-fi surrounded by artwork by the likes of Tracey Emin. Interestingly, another company from the same stable as U by Uniworld, Contiki, has launched a tour called Snap Canada – which features a photography expert who can help travellers get that perfect shot to share across their social media channels.

Royal Caribbean gets their young staff to set up a Snapchat group for every cruise – creating a communications channel for millennials. They’ve also done away with cameras for on board photographers and replaced them with iPhones to create social media ready snaps. Both ideas were generated by a group of interns from Chester University during the summer holidays. As a travel agent, when you sell to millennials, what are the main elements of a cruise that you promote?

Maybe it’s time to put aside the drinks packages and nightclubs and start looking at marketing those Instagram-friendly destinations that are going to get this generation of ‘Ego-Tourists’ (not our phrase) – really excited.

Luckily, there are plenty of different types of cruises to choose from, with all manner of incredible experiences on each: whether it’s hiking in the beautiful Norwegian fjords, discovering a local restaurant in the Amalfi Coast or swimming in Santorini – a cruise is perfect for millennials hungry for those experience-rich destinations.

Just make sure you don’t offer them a banana daiquiri.

Sam Ballard

Sam Ballard is the publisher of CRUISE ADVISER and has been writing about the cruise industry for a number of years. His CV includes the likes of shipping magazine International Cruise & Ferry Review and the digital publication Cruise News. He can be contacted

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