If you’re a millennial, you are a part of the generation of consumers that is changing not just how companies reach us through advertising, but we are reshaping the travel industry as well.
In case you’re curious about whether you fit into the millennial age bracket, no need to GOOGLE it — if you were between 1984 and 2000 you are a millennial. With the millennial travel market valued at $350 billion dollars companies from the budget-friendly to the affluent are working overtime to get the young travelers into their hotels, on their airlines, and into their cities to add to the local economy.
As the young people in this demographic settle into their careers and travel more, since the millennials value personal experiences over things, many will become seasoned, luxury-seeking travelers. The industry has split this group of travelers into three types of explorers: the ultra high net traveler, the high-net-worth traveler, and the aspirational upscale traveler. The ultra ultra-high-net-worth globetrotter spares no expense to get an elevated experience, the high-net-worth adventurer enjoys a luxe experience but doesn’t need every piece of their trip to fit into that box, and then there are the aspirational upscale travelers who will splurge on special occasions.
Luxury and affluent travelers might seem the same on the surface, but MMGY’s 2018 – 2019 Portrait of American Travelers says differently. Affluent travelers represent travelers that make on average about $125,000 while luxury travelers have an average annual income of $224,000. The two consumers also value different things: Seventy-six percent of luxury travelers prefer to making memories while affluent travelers enjoy things.
But luxury travel isn’t out of reach for those that don’t fall into those income brackets since establishing status through loyalty programs can act as a currency. These perks benefit business and frequent travelers. US News and World Report have named Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, The Delta SkyMiles program, and The JetBlue TrueBlue program among the top three milage programs of 2018-2019.
Many airlines like Delta and American Airlines have made accomplishing status difficult for the average flier imposing revenue stipulations that require passengers to spend a certain amount of money ranging from $3,000-$15,000 on airfare in a calendar year in order to obtain the status. Thanks to the internet, there is travel hack for everything, including getting a status change with an airline.
If you’re in an elite member with a competing airline, you reach out to their competitor and ask for an equivalent or lower status with them. Now they won’t just take your word for it, you will have to share your current elite status credentials and recent travel history, and you’ll be required to the new airline’s requirements to maintain your flight status with your new airline.
Since we’re talking about airline status, let’s talk about hotel status. Starwood Preferred Guest, Hilton Honors, and Marriott Rewards are among the most popular rewards programs to join since their hotels are worldwide. But, how do you build status and maintain it? Programs like Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) give regular members 2 Starpoints per dollar spent which means you (or your company) would need to spend $1500 on your hotels stays for you to earn a free night at a category one hotel while World of Hyatt offers 5 points per dollar spent making it easier to earn Elite Status which includes perks like: suite upgrades, guaranteed late checkout, and free wifi.
Another way to upgrade your experience is to invest in TSA Pre-Check and Globally Entry especially if you’re a frequent flyer domestically and internationally. TSA Pre-Check is $85 for five years and provides expedited security screening benefits for flights departing from U.S. Airports. Global Entry, on the other hand, gives you the benefits of Pre-Check along with expedited US customs screening for international air travelers when entering the United States.
This last tip might seem a little old school, but many travelers are still leaning on the expertise of travel agents, with travelers saving an average of $452 per trip plus four hours of travel planning. Not only will you save time, but you’ll get an exclusive experience within your budget since travel agents have relationships with specific destinations that can put you at an advantage price wise and with travel accommodations and experiences.