By Tim Werth
As the faithful companion of millennials, social media is helping to spur them on to travelling adventures. While Instagram travel accounts inspire many to jump on a plane and fly to the advertised travel destination, the ubiquity of these accounts strike a discord in others. One Instagram account, “Insta Repeat,” creates collages of 12 photos from various travel accounts that all pretty much look the same. A young white woman holding the hand of her boyfriend photographer as she walks towards a grand landscape; the outline of a cave framing a lone figure on a stark beach; a person at the other end of a canoe with the water and foggy mountains behind them. To escape this endless repetition of picture-perfect travel and to cultivate truly memorable travel experiences, millennials are breathing new life into two traditional travel trends: travel agencies and cruises.
Yes, you read that right. Many a trend piece has sounded the death knell for travel agents and cruise lines, but there may be hope yet for these beleaguered industries.
The Transformation Of Travel Agents
In an age with all-in-one travel sites like Expedia and Kayak that have cut out the travel agent middlemen, why would tech-savvy millennials seek out travel agents? For the exclusive, curated, and personal experience. A noteworthy 55% of millennials say they would hire travel experts, more than the percentages of Baby Boomers (42%) or Gen Xers (28%) who would say the same.
Today’s travel agencies don’t look like the dowdy offices as seen in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but instead, work off of sleek websites that offer one-on-one services. Even the title “travel agent” has been shed by the industry. The American Society of Travel Agents has recently rebranded themselves as the American Society of Travel Advisers. Explorer X, a premier travel agency, calls their advisers “travel mentors.” With their expertise in travel destinations that are sure to give someone the experience of their life, these new brand of travel agents have found their audience in millennials.
How Cruises Stay Current
Traditional cruises are a picture of entertainment and activities for all ages while passengers are on board, with brief stops on islands and in ports. To tap into the major revenue that millennials are bringing into the travel industry, cruise lines are starting to focus more on the dynamic activities they can provide on land.
According to Colleen McDaniel, executive editor of Cruise Critic, cruise lines are starting to stay at a destination for a whole day, rather than a quick five or six hours. Millennials tend to choose a cruise line based on where it is going rather than the reputation of the line, making cruises that go to Alaska, Iceland, Mexico, and the Greek Islands incredibly popular. The industry is also adapting to the preferences of the younger generation by using smaller ships to get to unique destinations, creating floating music festivals, and offering special activities such as rooftop camping and silent discos while on board.
While travellers of the millennial generation make up a significant portion of the 8 million people who fly every day, they’re also looking for one-of-a-kind experiences that can take them by boat, train, and any other possible transportation. By bringing back styles from decades past and incorporating them into experiences meant just for them, millennials are leading the way in the travel industry.
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