Millennials often get a bad rap as the “lazy” or “entitled” generation. While those stereotypes may hold true for some, the term “millennial” applies to a larger age group than most people think of – and who are more successful than they usually get credit for. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials were born from 1981 – 1997, making today’s millennials 21 to 37 years old, the United States’ largest living generation, and the majority of the workforce.1
Analysts have been talking about millennials for so long that there seems to be “millennial fatigue.” As the generation has established themselves as influential spenders in the hospitality sector and overall economy, now is the time to be focused on this audience. Have you thought about how many of the meeting planners you’re working with are millennials and how that will require you to adapt your current processes? We already know that 70% of all meeting planners visit a venue website before choosing a venue, 62% review the venue location on a map, and 61% submit an RFP. Now let’s take a look at how Millennials are unique and impacting business as we know it.2
In this first installment of a series sharing insight into millennial meeting planners, we’re going to share some facts about millennials to help you better understand their experience, priorities, and expectations.
Get to know your millennial meeting planners.
With all the negative stereotypes, it’s no wonder that most millennials resist the “millennial” label, with a third instead considering themselves part of Generation X.3 Regardless of what they may call themselves, there are actually some powerful statistics to show the impact they’re having, especially professionally and within the travel segment.
Millennials are More Educated.
40% of millennial workers have at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 32% of Generation X workers when they were in the same age range. Even more significant, the number of women with bachelor’s degrees increased from 36% of Generation X to 46% of millennials.4
As bachelor’s degree programs have expanded to meet the need of more students, so too have the topic options. As of this posting, there are 51 bachelor’s degree programs in event management in the United States, 520 in hospitality management, and 4,999 in public relations.5 Your millennial meeting planners may not have as many years of experience as other generations you work with, but they are likely to be more educated than their predecessors and launching their careers with more knowledge of the industry.
Millennials are Hard Workers.
Despite the perception, millennials aren’t job-hopping any more than Generation X did at their age.6 They also aren’t moving addresses as often.7 This is great news for the hospitality industry, as you have a better chance of fostering and maintaining a consistent contact and increasing your repeat business.
Not only are millennials dedicated to their day-jobs, 41% polled said they have some kind of “side hustle.”8 Particularly in an industry with a significant number of hours on nights and weekends, it is very possible that the millennial meeting planner you are working with is planning the event as her second job, necessitating communicating outside of standard business hours and leaning more heavily on digital communication over phone calls and day-time meetings.
Millennials Highly Value Travel and Food.
Perhaps the most exciting part of working with the millennial generation for the hospitality industry is that this generation really cares about their travel and dining experiences. A recent eMarketer study reports that travel tops the list of what millennials are saving for, ahead of retirement, supporting children, and everything else.8 According to Forbes, millennials are seeking growth through “culturally rich experiences and exploration of the unknown – both of which travel provides in full.”9
And they’re not just looking to travel. 90% are seeking new and unique experiences above everything else while traveling – meaning more adventure and customized travel. As opportunists, they want to explore communities and learn something new. 62% indicate they extend business trips into personal vacations,10 which means much more emphasis is placed on selecting a unique event destination by millennial meeting planners.
The same interest can be found for food, with millennials having a reputation as avid foodies with a preference for organic and natural menus. And they put their money where their mouths are – literally. Millennials spend proportionately more on food away from home than other generations.11 Serving up an exquisite dining experience will go far to impress this generation of meeting planners.
Millennials Spend More on Travel.12
Perhaps the greatest single reason to take interest in the millennial meeting planner is that millennials currently spend more than $200 billion annually on travel.13 According to Forbes, millennials spent $4,594 on vacations in the past 12 months with an average of $1,312 on each vacation, an 8% increase from 2016. And this trend is expected to continue in the coming years.14 While you may not care how often your millennial meeting planners travel, their exposure to new venues and locations surely has an impact on their venue selection process. The attendees they are planning for are more likely to be comprised of millennials themselves, looking for a work/play experience.
From a business perspective, millennials account for a third of spending on business flights and that number is expected to grow to 50% by 2020. Even better, 60% of millennial business travelers are happy to pay for premium services that improve the seamlessness of their trip, especially technology.11 This desire and willingness to travel, paired with the interest and capability to upgrade to premium services is likely to impact decisions of millennial meeting planners with an emphasis on premium spaces, cuisine, and technology.
Millennials are no longer just lazy, entitled kids, who still live at home. They’re managers, directors, and VPs with significant influence on event planning, purchase power, a love of travel, and a willingness to spend on unique travel experiences. If you’re looking to drive growth in hospitality, look no further.
Stay tuned for the next post in the series about marketing to millennials, what works, and what to avoid.
And to learn more about what meeting planners of all generations are looking for, download our report!