Has Social Media Changed The Way Millennials Go Travelling?
To say social media is a huge influence on the way millennials, the 18-32 age group today, making decisions is a bit of a cliché. But most clichés are so defined because they’re so true.
So can we put any hard evidence behind this assumption and, specifically, how does the social media phenomenon affect the way millennials travel?
First things first; the invention of social media in 1997 and its subsequent development have been cited by the Lottoland website as one of the ten most important inventions in human history that have helped bring us together as a species. And of those ten, the invention of social media is the most recent. The article examines the little-known forerunners of Facebook, Myspace and Instagram etc. from the late ’90s.
But how far has the explosion in social media platforms since then, and particularly over the last decade and a bit with the corresponding explosion in smartphone usage, changed the way young people travel?
Simply put; it’s changed it a lot – but in ways, many of us may find surprising. One survey by a company specializing in travel for 18-30s revealed that 76 percent of the age group today cited friends’ recommendations as the single main factor in choosing travel destinations. This may be no great surprise, but it seems the younger generation is also getting a little calmer than its predecessor age group. The same survey showed that today’s 18-30-year-old travelers are no longer seeking a party atmosphere – but instead are interested in seeking out local cuisine and culture. These activities pushed partying and shopping into third and fourth places respectively.
So it seems millennials aren’t simply looking at social media and enjoying pictures and articles from friends and others about far-flung destinations. Instead, they’re using this information to decide where and when to go, where to stay and what to do when they get there etc. In fact, it’s said that over 50 percent of millennials dream about their potential vacations while they’re browsing Facebook and Instagram. And many of them then take it to the next level; researching destinations and going through the initial planning stages.
Apparently, though, this isn’t about simple desire – but can be at least partially attributed to a fear of missing out. So when a person shares a memory on Facebook about a great vacation and maybe say they can’t wait to get back there again this summer, their contacts read the information and get a little “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and start planning their trip accordingly.
Of course, none of this is lost on brands and travel marketers who are doing all they can to piggy-back onto the millennials’ social media travel phenomenon through the use of user-generated peer content – and encouraging clients to share stories, videos and pictures on social media. From sharing an Instagram link or tweeting – or creating Facebook posts; commercial entities attempt to engage directly with millennial targets via social media. They also use the more conventional techniques such as targeted advertising online – and almost all consumer-facing travel brands include dedicated areas for user-generated content on their websites.
The world of travel has fundamentally changed for millennials thanks to social media. But the real million dollar question is “what happens next?”