Why travel marketers need to understand those coming after Gen-Y
A common topic bounced around the industry focuses on what will be the most important marketing channels in travel.
In fact, one of the subtext topics of a conference session this week at ITB in Berlin is: “What will be the most impactful communication channels for travel distribution in 2011 for suppliers, intermediaries and travel companies?”
The session is also due to discuss reaching the most important segments.
The question says:
“If you are thinking about focusing to reach the three most important target audiences for travel in Europe. What is the most important one to focus in 2011? And in 2015?”
- 20-30 single, couples, no kids
This got me thinking – what about the next generation which is coming up behind the current group (Gen-Y)?
Actually having a two of those in the family it appears they act very differently to each other and to the generations that have preceded them.
Coincidently, two recent studies on this group caught my eye. One that has received a lot of air and net time is the latest CDC study on sex and the American individual.
This highlighted that today’s teens are not as interested in sex as earlier. The number of teens who have not tried sex has fallen. In my local newspaper, the Seattle Times, there was a great quote:
“‘It’s not even on my radar,’ said 17-year-old Abbey King of Hinsdale, Illinois, a competitive swimmer who starts her day at 5 am and falls into bed at 10:30 pm after swimming, school, weight lifting, running, more swimming, homework and a volunteer gig working with service dogs for the disabled.”
The other study is from eMarketer and Ipsos, Media Usage and Shopping Habits of Teens.
Delving into teen behavior is important to see how they will act when they hit the marketplace as adults.
The clear – and obvious – message is that this generation is tech-savvy and very social.
The definition of social is far broader than existed in other generations. Their lust for technology seems to accelerate every year.
As one parent of a four year old told me, he was shocked to hear his child come home from nursery school, head to her computer and announce: “I am sorry, Daddy, no time for videos I have home work to do on my computer.”
The social internet is similarly indispensable.
More than four in five teens will use social networks this year, eMarketer estimates, compared to 64% of all internet users.
Nearly three-quarters of teens will use Facebook monthly this year, and Ipsos Public Affairs found in 2010 that over 50% visited the site daily.
I believe this number is under-reporting the impact. I asked a number of teenagers to try a little experiment to count the number of times they interacted with their mobile phone.
The numbers were staggering, but understandable. The teens I asked seemed to check their messages and interact with their phones more than 50 times a DAY!
When I did the same thing myself I found that I, too, was checking my tree mobile devices even more when I am travelling.
Their behavior online is different than their predecessors. The tend to eschew email and prefer the messaging systems in Facebook and, of course, texting.
They all seem to suffer ADD which will likely drive more iCommerce (Instant Commerce and Flash sales) type activity. Web browsing is not something that grabs their attention.
Wikipedia is their trusted source, despite all the exhortations while in school that Wikipedia is not to be regarded as a quotable source, and it remains one of the first places when teens search for hard information – but not nearly as trusted as from their friends and social network.
But perhaps one trend that is critical to the future is the need for validation – perhaps the one trend that will transcend through early adulthood into maturity.
This generation will seek validation more than any other. This will be important in purchase and in researching options especially in travel.
The message for travel marketers is clear. Engagement with your community better be real and it better be deep. That means content cannot be allowed to get stale. Information must be reliable and your apps better be really fast.
Or else you face the ultimate ignominy – you will be ignored.
Timothy O'Neil-Dunne is a contributing Node to Tnooz. He writes about travel, in particular aviation, technology, startups and innovation.
He has two day jobs: managing partner at travel consultancy firm T2Impact, where he serves as the lead for the airline, aviation and airport practice. He is also co-founder of VaultPAD, an accelerator devoted exclusively to travel and travel-related startup businesses. One of the first companies to emerge from the incubator is Air Black Box, a cloud-based software company providing Airline Connectivity Solutions.
Timothy was a founding management team member of the Expedia team, where he headed the international and ground transportation portfolios. He also spent time with Worldspan as head of technology, where he managed international technology services from infrastructure to product.
Timothy is also a permanent advisor to the World Economic Forum and writes as Professor Sabena. He sits on a number of advisory and executive boards.