|The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on March 9, 2016 by The Hipmunk.
For the third year in a row, we polled US travelers of all ages to find out more about the travel habits and trends of the coveted millennials as well as gen Xers and boomers. Last year, we reported that millennial travelers were “cheap, plugged in and always looking for pleasure“. Guess what, not much has changed.
Always-connected, highly-mobile millennials are forging new norms for leisure and business travel, making technology, in-the-know experiences, and adrenaline-rush adventures—not cookie-cutter vacation packages—some of the most striking hallmarks of the way they explore and enjoy their world.
When they do hit the road, millennials see themselves as explorers, not tourists. They disproportionately favor vacation rentals over hotels, cities over beaches, and grab travel opportunities whenever they can, such as topping off business trips with leisure travel.
Hipmunk is built by and for younger travelers, and we understand their travel patterns better than anyone else. Our site and app attract people who are younger, on average, than other big online travel brands. Here are five key takeaways from this year’s study.
1) Mix Business With Pleasure, Please!
Millennials do more business travel than any other age group, and they take advantage while they can:
Millennials already dominate business travel, and they’re doing it in a different way than the previous generation. ‘Bleisure’ may sound like a contagious disease, but it’s a real phenomenon, and millennials are making vacation rentals a viable option for their business trips.
2) Cut the Cord, But Not the Tube
Millennials’ astute use of the Internet and social connectivity informs their travel preparation, and how they live when they’re on the road. They edge out other generations in their desire to be connected. This generation is connected 24-7, and that’s clear in the way they treat every stage of their travel.
3) Skip the Agony (and the security line)
Millennials will go the extra mile – or pay a little more – to remove friction points that make travel frustrating.
4) Bye-Bye Beach, Hello Bucket List!
The younger the traveler, the more likely he or she eschews the label of “tourist” when on the road, suggesting younger generations want to experience different cultures authentically, not just to observe them. The study found that 38% of millennials surveyed consider themselves to be explorers rather than tourists, compared to 30% of Gen Xers and 24% of boomers.
5) 2016 Year of the Travel Optimist (and Airbnb)
This may well be the year of the travel optimist as more people report they plan to take their vacation days. Fifty-four percent of all generations say they are planning on traveling more this year than in 2015. That percent hits a whopping 72 percent among just the millennial respondents, compared to 59% of Gen Xers and 40% of boomers.
It’s been widely reported that Americans don’t take enough vacation, and the Hipmunk survey confirmed that 30% of all people say they took no leisure trips last year. Nevertheless, 82% of millennials took time off for fun. Some seemed to have nothing but fun: 7% of millennials took 10+ leisure trips last year, compared to just 3% of the general population.
Millennials also lead the way in preferring vacation rentals over hotels. Forty-four percent of that generation would rather bunk down Airbnb-style on their leisure trips than drop anchor at a hotel; only 23% of Gen Xers and 11% of boomers agree. This preference extends to business travel.
These trends suggest that vacation rentals could eventually surpass hotel bookings amongst this age group, for both business and pleasure.