Experience Trumps Value for Millennials


When it comes to what’s more important to millennial travellers – the overall experience they get out of the vacation or getting the most for their investment – experience trumps value three to one, according to results of a newly released survey of Ensemble Travel Group members in Canada and the US.

The findings are part of a new Ensemble Insights Survey that analyzes booking trends and activity of millennial travellers. The topic was of particular relevance with the focus of the organization’s recent annual Executive Retreats led by millennial authority Jeff Fromm.

Experience also plays a primary role in the types of travel favoured by millennials and how they book those vacations. Ensemble Insights Survey results reveal that millennials prefer FITs (64%), all-inclusive resorts (58%) and destination weddings and honeymoons (34%) over other types of getaways, including ocean and river cruises. (Multiple answers were accepted in this and several other questions.) In addition, this generation books their vacation through a travel professional because of his or her knowledge and experience (47%) and time savings (26%), far outweighing cost savings (14%) and help in emergency situations (13%).

Underscoring millennials need for 24/7 connectivity, the survey results find free WiFi a must at 67%, even outdistancing authentic experience at 47% and adventure-focused at 44%. At the other end of the scale, factors that matter least to millennials based on survey results include world-class spas, family focused itineraries and timing/seasonality.

Other survey results include:

  • When asked “How did your millennials become clients of your agency,” Ensemble members indicate their parents (88%) or friends (72%) are or were clients of the agency. Social media came in third place at a distant 38%.
  • As more millennials come to agencies through referrals, they are also more willing to make referrals. Most agencies (86%) found that millennials are equally or more likely to refer friends and family compared to other clients.
  • Thailand, Costa Rica and Peru are top emerging destinations for millennials, according to Ensemble survey results. Most popular millennial destinations are the Caribbean, Mexico and Italy.
    !!! Six to 10 days is the overwhelming preference of length of stay at 74%, followed by 11 to 15 days at a distant 16%.

Expanding the scope, the recent Ensemble Insights Survey also analyzed members’ summer and year-end bookings across all age groups. Results include:

  • 2015 summer (June, July, August) compared to summer 2014 finds 37% of respondents report an increase in bookings; 25% a decrease; and 38% unchanged;
  • The top three vacation preferences this summer: FITs outside of US and Canada (33%), all-inclusive resorts (27%) and ocean cruising (22%);
  • Year-end 2015 booking forecast compared to year-end 2014 finds 62% expect an increase; 17% a decrease; and 21% unchanged.