Millennials have received the lion’s share of marketing attention in recent years, and rightly so. In the UK and the US, the millennial generation (those born between 1981 and 1986) represent one of the biggest demographics in history. In 2020, there were approximately 14.26 million Millennials in the UK and in 2021, there were 72.19 million Millennials in the US, respectively.
However, millennials aren’t the only target market that should be high on your airport’s list of priorities. Generation Z, the post-Millennial generation, includes young people born between 1996 and 2012. These teenagers and 20-somethings currently make up 68 million in the United States alone – that’s 20% of the US population!
On a global scale, there are currently 2 billion Gen Zers worldwide, and data shows it is already the largest cohort alive. As a result, Gen Z is quickly becoming a vital piece of the consumer puzzle, stealing the spotlight from Millenials and bringing a whole new set of consumer preferences and behaviours for marketers to work with.
Currently, Millennial spending sits at just over $65 billion, whilst Generation Z is at almost $100 billion, and that’s without counting the influence that the youngest members of Generation Z have on their Generation X parents’ spending decisions.
What does all this mean for your airport? If you aren’t already, it’s time to level up your marketing and ensure you’re targeting Millennials and Generation Z with your travel campaigns. To get you off to a good start, we’ve delved into the wants, needs and travel habits of these key consumer groups and shared our top tips for marketing to Gen Z and Millennials.
Marketing to Millennials and Gen Z holds new challenges for airports. These consumers are different from any previous generation. They are experience-hungry and reluctant to spend money on items such as cars and luxury goods that their parents might have viewed as essential – instead accessing things as they need them through what’s being called a ‘sharing economy’. They’re happy to use and share rather than own. Think car-shares and AirBnB.
Their affinity for technology is reshaping the retail space. As far back as 2012, AIMIA reported that 57% of Millennials access a wealth of product reviews, information and price comparison online when viewing a product in-store. What’s more, Gen Zers are ‘digital natives,’ meaning they’ve grown up with smart technology and are capable of adapting quickly to advanced technological developments. As a result, the digital landscape is their playground.
Fortunately, this experience-led culture is a gift for travel marketers. The younger generation has a seemingly insatiable appetite for global experience. A decrease in social pressures to start families and a job market featuring companies that offer enticing holiday packages have increased young adults’ ability to travel without sacrificing work or personal goals. These travellers are looking for cultural, culinary, natural and artistic thrills, and if that means forgoing the traditional tourist destinations, so be it. They’re also incredibly conscious of sustainability and expect travel brands to align their marketing communications to their personal interests.
New research shows that Gen Z and Millennial travellers plan to take longer holidays in the year ahead and live in multiple cities. Younger generations are taking more trips, booking longer stays, spending more per night on accommodation, and favouring additional features, such as wellness facilities and coworking spaces. The COVID-19 pandemic, consequent lockdowns and an increase in remote working have influenced these generations to make up for the lost time by travelling more and taking advantage of the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world.
Millennials and Gen Z are motivated to tick off bucket list destinations they’ve seen on social media. Here are some key statistics to consider:
97% of Millennials share their travel experiences on social media
87% of Millennials use Facebook to inspire their booking
49% of Gen Zers and 50% of Millennials follow at least one travel influencer on social media
60% of Gen Zers use social media for travel purposes
On TikTok, the hashtag ‘travel’ boasts 74.4 billion views, and 34% of people said the platform influenced their travel plans in 2022
Millennials and Gen Z are much more agile and spontaneous travellers than older generations – ready for an adventure at any time. With easy access to technology, these generations are ‘always on’ and desire immediacy. They expect to be able to research, book, check in, purchase, review and manage multiple aspects of their journeys seamlessly across multiple devices, favouring an omnichannel ecommerce experience.
While the financial crisis of 2008 may not have affected the younger generations, they will have noted its effect on their parents’ finances. This has made them more careful with money, aware of price changes and focused on getting value for money. Having said all this, Millennials and Gen Z are more willing to splurge for social ammunition, i.e., showing off their experiential travel purchases on social media.
Interestingly, though perhaps not surprisingly, Gen Z is more concerned with sustainability than previous generations regarding travelling. 56% said they preferred eco-friendly accommodation, and 60% looked for more environmentally-friendly forms of transport when they arrived at their destination. Moreover, 56% of Gen Zers say they would pay more to book with a travel service provider that demonstrates environmental responsibility, compared to 48% of Millennials.
To sucessfully market travel to Millennials and Gen Z, it’s crucial to look at their wants, key traits, travel habits and influences, to understand what makes them tick. There’s no denying their love for travel, but with so many options to choose from, how can you persuade them to book with your airport?
Millennials and Gen Zers don’t want to book travel with a faceless company. They know their values, and what matters to them, and they expect the travel brands they book with to follow suit.
83% of Millennials stress the importance of value alignment, so investing in establishing your brand identity and reflecting the values most important to your customers is crucial. Additionally, 45% of Gen Zers say that a brand appearing trustworthy and transparent is a significant motivating factor for engagement, so share as much of your airport’s story as you can!
While paid ads certainly have a role in your airport marketing campaign, they might not be as effective as targeting younger generations. Millennials and Gen Zers tend to be less receptive to ads they see online, with many choosing to install ad blockers and skip them wherever possible.
When marketing your airport’s travel services, reservations and ecommerce products to Millennials and Gen Z, ensure you’re prioritising useful, engaging and educational content over bog standard advertising.
Content is about storytelling, developing your brand and creating an experience. Write travel blogs that inform travellers of the best places to visit, enhanced with beautiful imagery. Create short ‘tips’ videos on social media to relay important travel information fast. Share consumer-generated content from your customers in your email marketing campaigns and partner with the travel influencers they trust on social media.
Keep in mind that both demographics favour entertaining content – it’s why they access YouTube and spend time on micro-content apps like Instagram and TikTok. Make your airport’s marketing content fun and shareable. Pay attention to the vocabulary Gen Zers use, the memes Millennials love and any relevant content trends you can jump on to extend the reach of your marketing efforts.
Millennials live by the phrase YOLO (you only live once) and FOMO (fear of missing out), so marketing to them should reflect this experience-rich lifestyle. This means experiential marketing!
Consider fun, exciting and engaging experiences you can create at your airport to boost brand awareness. Encourage passengers to share photos and videos online, tagging your airport and inducing FOMO for other Millennials and Gen Zers, encouraging them to visit and experience it for themselves.
98% of people say they are more likely to purchase a product with an experiential marketing campaign, so it’s well worth incorporating into your airport’s marketing strategy!
Gone are the days when brands could send the same marketing email to their entire customer base and expect high levels of success. Instead, when marketing your airport to Millennials and Gen Z, you need to get personal.
60% of Millennials say they would not hesitate to share personal information to receive offers and messages to suit their interests. Furthermore, 77% of Gen Z believe it’s important for businesses to customise interactions.
Millennials and Gen Z want you to communicate with them as individuals. They want to receive tailored offers based on their needs, wants and previous purchase history. And they’re willing to part with their data to help it happen!
The more personalisation your airport can provide within its marketing communications, the greater the results from your campaigns – thus, the more alignment and loyalty Millenial and Gen Z customers will have to your brand.
Harness the power of your CRM to develop sophisticated customer profiling, and use Rezcomm’s state-of-the-art Marketing modules to deliver hyper-personalised joined-up messages to your customers at scale. And remember to extend personalisation to your loyalty and rewards programme. Millennials and Gen Zers can be tough to impress, but they’ll stick with you once you do!
Millennials are a tech-savvy generation, and Gen Z has grown up unbeknownst to what came before smart devices. With this in mind, your airport must deliver a mobile-friendly and multiplatform approach to marketing.
Millennials are likely to research, compare flights and read reviews about your airport on their mobile before booking a trip on their desktop PC or laptop. However, Gen Z is twice as likely to complete the entire booking journey via mobile. So to ensure you’re meeting the needs of both demographics (and the older generations), delivering a mobile-first, multiplatform approach to marketing is crucial.
Your airport website, ecommerce platform and marketing communications must be mobile-friendly and built with responsive design. Moreover, you must consider how to communicate with your Gen Z and Millennial customers and ensure you’re optimising all touchpoints. An airport marketing strategy that combines email marketing, social media marketing and SMS, harnesses data, and uses intelligent automation tools will ensure you deliver the right message to the right customer using the right platform at the right time.
When it comes to social media marketing, there are some key differences between Millennials and Gen Z. Facebook is still one of the most popular social media platforms (along with Instagram and Youtube) for engaging with Millenials. However, Gen Zers favour video-based platforms like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram—something to take note of when creating marketing campaigns for your airport.
Interestingly, both generations follow online creators and influencers. Moreover, they trust their recommendations. So if you want more Millennials and Gen Zers to book with your airport, it’s time to start working with the travel influencers they trust.
Creating video content for social media, particularly short-form videos like TikToks and Reels, is the latest trend brands are jumping on. And with beautiful destinations to show off, fun experiential marketing activities in your terminals, and travel advice you can share with passengers, you’ll always have engaging video content to share on these platforms. Remember, younger consumers value authenticity, so your videos don’t need to be big budget!
Use Rezcomm’s handy Social Media Scheduler to keep on top of your content plan, save time on social media and ensure you remain present on all the vital platforms.
We appreciate that for busy airports and those with shrinking budgets keeping up with the latest Millenial and Gen Z marketing trends and hitting all of your content pillars can be challenging.
So, why not simplify your airport marketing operations with our cutting-edge Marketing modules, which include an Email and SMS Sending Service, Social Media Scheduler, Website CMS, Drag-and-Drop Landing Page Builder and more? Plus, with expert support from our industry-leading airport marketers working as an extension of your team, you’ll generate even better results from your airport marketing efforts.