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All marketers want to target the key millennials demographic. This youthful group of fashion conscious and leisure-oriented people are the ideal consumers that all businesses crave. The travel industry is no different in this regard, in fact it can be quite convincingly argued that millennials represent a particularly key demographic for travel-related businesses to attract.

Mobile and Social Connection

It is interesting to note then that August, 2014 data from the Association of British Travel Agents highlighted a common theme for the digital travel industry in the UK, which is that mobile and social platforms play a key part in online travel planning and booking for millennials. This demographic is much more likely to make travel bookings on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.

In the twelve months ending in July 2014, 35 percent of UK travellers aged between 16 and 24 booked a trip via a mobile platform. According to the Association of British Travel Agents research, millennials are far more likely to make travel bookings on mobile devices than any other generation or demographic.

The link between mobile and social media is something that the Digital Tourism Think Tank has discussed frequently in previous articles. The two seem to go hand-in-hand, particularly for young people. One can easily picture the image of a young person travelling to a particular destination, with mobile in hand, checking the latest Twitter and Facebook feeds. This combination of mobile and social media is indicative of the busy lives we lead nowadays, and this is no more true than for the key millennial demographic.

It’s not surprising then that the Association of British Travel Agents found that millennials in the United Kingdom make much greater use of social media as a source of information for travel than any other generation. Only 18 percent of Internet users actively utilise social media in order to research and plan travel, but that number rises dramatically among the 16 to 24 year-old age group. Nearly half (44 percent) of this key demographic of young people use social media to research and plan travel.

Mobile Booking Growth

It is also clear that online bookings are becoming increasingly important for the travel industry in the UK. Recently, the Digital Tourism Think Tank reported on the decline of traditional travel agents in the British high street. It is evident that the average traveller in Britain is looking toward online sources for both information and actually to pay for trips, as time honoured methods of booking holidays begin to show tangible signs of decline.

This is reflected in the vast online travel sales market in the UK. It is already predicted that this will reach £21.42 billion ($33.47 billion) in 2014, which represents an increase of nearly 14 percent from last year. This is extremely significant, as although the UK has achieved GDP growth in the last year or so, in general terms the outlook for retailers has been pretty dismal owing to the massive economic recession which has been taking place.

And this market is set to increase in the future. By 2018, UK online tourism sales will be worth nearly £30 billion. This means that the market will increase by almost 50 percent over the next four years. This is the type of growth that only boom industries can hope to attract, and it really underlines how important it is for digital marketers to understand the online marketplace and particularly the importance of mobile and social media for young people.

Expedia and the Future of Travel

The Expedia report “The Future of Travel” has already recognised the particular importance of mobile for millennials. This massively important online travel company anticipates that the traveller of tomorrow will operate in a world in which they not only want, but expect to move seamlessly from one device to another. Within this world, mobile will almost perform the role of a personal assistant, enabling tech-savvy travellers to plan and book travel, change plans, connect with friends and colleagues, carry out work duties, and engage with all manner of tourism-related activities and businesses.

Expedia has stated that it recognises that keeping pace with the millennial generation will demand a specific focus on mobile. The company considers this essential in order to provide this information-focused demographic with appropriate data and services. Millennials have a no-nonsense approach to information, favouring brands and services which save them time, and which consequently make life and travel both easier and more enjoyable. This is one of the primary motivations for mobile; simply to make life more convenient.

With this in mind, the Expedia branding team has already invested significantly in mobile, with the intention of creating a streamlined travel experience in which mobile acts as a personal assistant. Through this system consumers will receive notifications if flights are delayed, can be guided through airports, will receive reminders regarding hotel checkouts, and can be sent targeted activity vouchers.

As features and functionality related to tourism grow in the mobile sphere, and the millennials who so favour it as a form of technology have their own children who will inevitably feel the same way, the importance of mobile as a travel-related platform will increase further still. Expedia has recognised the importance of this in the present day, and other travel-related businesses should develop similar strategies.

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