Last year, South Africa hosted close on four million millennial tourists (those born between 1981 and 1999), representing around 38% of total travellers to South Africa, says Acting CEO of South African Tourism, Sthembiso Dlamini.
“The millennial market is increasingly important for South Africa, with research showing that millennials travel the most during the year (over a year), compared with other market segments – up to 35 days,” she says.
“Millennials are the largest audience we engage with on our digital channels.” They are also generally big spenders when on holiday, she adds.
They are raising the stakes for tourism stakeholders, seeking a personalised experience with built-in perks like free WiFi, priority boarding and more accommodation options.
This brand of tourist – who loves recording every second of their travel journey via a blog, vlog or social media posts – won’t accept a ‘one-size-fits-all’ travel experience, which is why the historic Karoo town of Matjiesfontein has recently highlighted the best and most quirky Instagrammable spots as part of its millennial marketing strategy, says Kirsty Pienaar, Marketing Manager.
The categories of millennials would depend on their stage of life, which determines their needs and priorities, says Marketing Manager of Makumu Private Game Lodge, Saskia Brown.
“Are they travelling as friends looking for an adventure or a couple looking for a romantic break or a young family looking to capture their special moments to share with friends and family on social media?” Operators should keep the concept of ‘capturing the moment’ in mind when designing an itinerary, she says.
Millennials are also more focused on experiences rather than fine luxuries, says Gemma Heyns, PR Specialist of African Bush Camps. “African Bush Camps ‘Expedition’ properties are tailored to this trend, showcasing the location in its most natural element.”
The Research and Markets report, ‘Trends in Global Millennial Travel: An insight into the key trends, behaviours and issues of millennial travellers’ highlights a few key points about this sector:
- Millennial travellers prefer to explore international locations over domestic destinations.
- Millennials are digital nomads, and technology profoundly influences them. This offers an opportunity for tourism boards and travel intermediaries to pitch their product offerings online to attract millennial travellers.
- Authentic and experiential travel experiences have become a significant travel trend for millennial travellers, which allows them to experience activity-based travel such as cultural/educational, culinary, voluntourism, and adventure tourism, and also to get connected with people around them.