The travel revolution spurred by Millennials is already well underway. The generation has continuously given its support to brands that help to rethink the way that travel is done, from Expedia to Airbnb, and the industry is continuing to adapt and evolve to attract young adult travelers.
Despite being debt-laden and jobs continuing to be scarce, Millennials are still investing in travel. More Millennials are interested in travelling abroad than other generations, and they’re redefining what that travel looks like, choosing extended stays over short vacations, and finding hacks and shortcuts (couchsurfing, etc.) that allow them to cut costs without sacrificing the experience. Travel remains a luxury experience that many of them refuse to do without, and they are prioritizing spending on travel over product purchases. Given the choice between spending $5000 on a vacation with a group of friends and family or a state of the art home entertainment system, 80% of Millennials tell us they would choose the vacation. 68% would splurge on a weekend vacation over new clothes.
Millennials might have major wanderlust, but their taste and expectations in booking, budgets, accommodations, and experiences are not necessarily the same as their parents’. The hotel industry is increasingly finding ways to adapt their offerings for the generation as they age up: Marriott has just introduced Moxy, a new, “hip and affordable” global brand that, of course, includes free WiFi. Moxy adds to the Millennial-focused brands in their portfolio, which already includes the AC hotels they plans to expand in the states. Hilton recently launched their own Millennial-catered brand called Curio, which takes boutique properties and makes them Hilton-affiliated while maintaining their unique look and style. But the reality is that Millennials are rethinking where they stay, how they get a room, and even how they pack, in ways that go beyond WiFi and bedspreads. Here are five of the apps and sites helping the generation to continue the travel revolution:
What if social media clout actually led to real world perks? Hotelied makes that idea a reality, offering travelers with large followings on social media customized luxury travel deals. The site works with high-end properties and to give tailored offers and discounts to influential social users, frequent travelers, and people in industries like fashion or entertainment. Users create a profile by entering their frequent flier and hotel loyalty information along with their LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles (with Instagram to be added soon). Then the site matches the user with hotels and provides a special rate based on their information. In their own words, Hotelied is giving members the chance to be “rewarded for being themselves.”
2. Kid & Coe
Airbnb changed the travel game by introducing peer-to-peer transactions to the space, and now other sites are following in their footsteps, catering to niche audiences. Kid & Coe is one of those sites, but their focus is on family—a potentially important part of the future of Millennial travel as more and more of the generation has children. (Our infographic snapshot on the topic will show you how fast that is happening.) Kid & Coe curates family-friendly properties and provides online booking for places around the world that are vetted to make bringing the kids on vacation easy and safe. Anyone with a “family friendly” location can become a host on the site after being evaluated and approved by Kid & Coe. The site also provides activity suggestions for each location, compiled by local parents, and their own “Playlist” of the top things to see and do the month the trip is planned.
Packing is one of the chores of travel that many struggle to get right but that has changed very little over time. Until now. PackPoint makes packing more “intelligent” by providing customized checklists of what to pack based on a user’s destination, gender, and travel plans, even factoring in the weather to make the most out of suitcase contents. After asking some simple questions about the trip, and the traveler, the free Android app creates a plan for what to bring from toiletries to wardrobe to electronics. If the user isn’t interested in an item, they can swipe it away. The activities panel helps to customize things even further, allowing users to tap icons to indicate if they will be bringing a baby, or going somewhere especially fancy on their trip. PackPoint is not alone in their mission to “fix” packing, there are more and more apps being created to take the guesswork out of what to put in the bag, and make it all easier and more turnkey.
A list of tools revolutionizing travel would not be complete without HotelTonight. The startup launched in 2011, but has gained significant traction in the last year as the app to use to find an amazing hotel deal. HotelTonight provides last minute booking options and deals, and because you can book only for same-day rooms, hotels work with the app to provide sometimes unheard of discounts on the spaces they have empty for the day. All the booking takes place on a smartphone through the app, so if you find yourself in a city for the night unexpectedly, you can stay someplace amazing for a fraction of the price without ever going online. In 2013, HotelTonight added a price guarantee and also began to reward guests for taking photos of hotel features. This year, they added a new “Look Ahead” function to help predict with a the available prices will be one week in the future, so you can “plan to be spontaneous.”
Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity…they’ve all helped to change the travel industry and make travel agents all but obsolete—at least for Millennial jetsetters who prefer to sit at the controls when it comes to booking travel. But though those travel search engines provide deals in airfare and hotels, none of them actually helps to plan the trip itself. Jauntaroo calls itself a “vacation matchmaker” and provides more than deals, it makes personalized travel plans to 300 destinations, and helps visitors to figure out where in the world they should go. The site asks users to click five icons to indicate what they’re looking for on their vacation, from weather to activities, and lets them set a budget with a sliding scale tool. Jauntaroo then provides matches that meet all of those desires, and helps them book the whole thing. The site also integrates an element of social good, donating $1 per reservation to the global causes and organizations they feature. In late 2013, the site made headlines thanks to its search for a Chief World Traveler, also known as the best job ever, to travel the globe for 2014, participate in “voluntourism” and share their experiences via social media.