They don’t travel, spend, or even think like their elders, but they are spending their money on group tours that don’t look anything like the ones their parents and grandparents enjoyed. If you’re seeking to attract millennial (currently between ages 26 and 41) and Generation Z (age 25 and younger) travelers, follow the advice from these marketing pros.

Alexandria Sanchez is the U.S. consumer marketing manager for G Adventures, a small-group travel operator currently offering more than 700 trips worldwide. Describing boomers and Generation X, she says: “Older travelers are drawn to more luxurious trips that will bring relaxation or the sense of an escape from reality.” But millennials and Gen Z are seeking out immersive experiences that let them see the world in new ways. “For them, travel opens the door to iconic and memorable moments worth sharing,” she says.

Millennials often are interested in international trips, with itineraries that encompass culture, adventure, and leisure all built into one, she notes. And while Gen Z travelers are still growing in their purchasing power, she says they’re often conscious consumers who “want to support local businesses and make an impact with authentic opportunities to experience local culture and life.”

Given these very different mindsets and attitudes, how can you reach the younger generation? In some cases, you can do that by sticking to tried-and-true tactics that are straight out of a Marketing 101 textbook. But sometimes you’ll need to try some different approaches, experts say. Here are some mar- keting tips to help you get started.

1. Discount (smartly)

“Everyone still wants a value proposition,” says Cyril Lemaire, managing partner and founder of TrakTek Partners, a marketing and consulting agency that specializes in travel and tourism. But you may find more success among this demographic with in-kind discounts instead of cash ones. “Instead of a pure ‘dollars off ’ or ‘percentage off,’ we’ve seen success with things like air credits, ship-board credits, or land tour credit,” Lemaire says. “It’s a perceived savings in terms of something they see as a ‘free extra.’ ”

2. Follow up (often)

“Lots of people spend their marketing budget getting people to their website, but then there’s no follow-up or contact from a salesperson,” Lemaire notes. That matters for an audience that is used to being courted with personalized, targeted marketing in all aspects of their lives. He suggests crafting emails that are automatically triggered by key touchpoints, or calls-to-action, like visiting a website, viewing a video, or filling out an inquiry form. “It definitely has increased the sales conversion rate for our clients.”

3. Get on social platforms (and stay there)

Some of this demographic don’t even remember a time before the internet and cellphones existed, so if you’re going to market effectively to them, you’re going to need to be where they are—TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest, for starters (plus any new platforms that have emerged in the last five minutes). “Gen Z is captivated by short-form video, with a growing emphasis on Instagram reels,” Sanchez says. Smart marketers will, for example, capture plenty of footage during operations to share and promote on social channels.

4. Inspire them (to share)

“Word-of-mouth on social media comes in the form of user-generated content, which are the posts, photos, and responses from people we follow online,” explains Nicole Mahoney, CEO of Travel Alliance Partners. “For Gen Z, for example, 92% say they’ve [found] interest in a specific destination after seeing social images from family, friends, or peers.” Sanchez notes that this data point is backed up with real-world experience. “They’re eager to share their experiences, so creating mechanisms to incentivize them to share their own content about their travel adventures with you is a great way to engage this audience and their communities,” Sanchez says.

Seeking out new prospective customers is always a challenge, but it can definitely pay off, these experts agree. “Group tour operators have a unique opportunity to capture younger audiences because they have the deep knowledge and connections within destinations to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” Mahoney says. “These ‘Insta-worthy’ experiences naturally lend themselves to sharing both IRL (in real life) and online, which will inspire future guests to book.”

Article by Julie Kendrick
Main image credit: Andrea Piacquadio