Humor me for a minute. If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound? I’d argue that this same logic can be applied to modern day travel. No matter how sacrosanct your personal week in paradise is, no travel experience is complete without a feed full of photographic evidence. Planning a trip to Tahiti? Show me a picture of your stilted bungalow or it never actually happened.

The Rise of the Digital Traveler

The modern traveler is sharing and consuming more content on more channels and devices than ever. The desire to document every moment of #vacation — and to post images, videos and other information publicly — has significant implications for the travel sector. As a matter of fact, the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker reports that some 70% of U.S. consumers plan on taking a leisure trip in 2016, an increase from the 66% who reported they’d traveled last year. Additionally, a record number of Americans traveled abroad in 2015, according to National Travel and Tourism Office.

Where are people going? In their annual travel report, Skift cites a list from TripAdvisor of the top emerging destinations. Globally, the five most sought after destinations are Tulum, Mexico; Cartagena, Colombia; Porto, Portugal; Moscow, Russia; and Brighton, U.K. In the U.S., tourism in Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Orange Beach, Alabama; Destin, Florida; South Lake Tahoe, California; and Jackson, Wyoming is on the rise.

(One last fun fact? Airbnb’s top trending destination is Chuo-ku in Osaka, Japan; it’s seen a 7,000% growth in inbound guests between 2014 and 2015.)

Millennials: Dreamers and Sharers

For brands, greater consumer access to channels and content are creating unique opportunities to reach, engage and drive bookings among a new generation of millennial travelers. Compared to those who came before, millennials have avidly adopted social communities, digital channels and mobile technologies. Gen Y is also the largest living generation in the U.S., and by 2017, they’ll carry the majority of the spending power.

When considering the priorities of the travel marketer, millennials are top of mind. How can you reach and engage this influential demographic?

The following infographic explores how a generation of dreamers and sharers are reshaping the travel sector.

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Key Takeaways:

1. Millennial travelers are seeking authentic, personalized experiences

What drives millennials through the booking journey? Here’s a hint: it’s not your lobby. Many hospitality brands are still struggling to embrace lifestyle videos and images, but traditional hotel photography simply doesn’t have the same digital impact as editorial-style content. To inspire consumers, your visual footprint needs to transport consumers to a desirable moment. So, nix the crisp white sheets for a messy bed that conjures dreams of lazy mornings. Your customers—and your manager—will thank you.

2. Marketers need to think mobile for this demographic

Not only are millennials using mobile devices to plan and book travel, they are also using them to share experiences while traveling. Create mobile optimized content, integrate Snapchat and Instagram Stories, and consider how you can create unique experiences that relate to the modern traveler. A few thoughts? A digital photo wall; display photogenic props for poolside selfies; a thoughtful ‘thank you’ basket left bedside in their room (don’t forget to include your hashtag on that handwritten card).

3. Educate them

A significant portion of millennial travelers are venturing solo, and they’re taking a destination’s local culture into account before they leave. Provide content for them that teaches how they can travel alone, like the highlights of specific destinations.

Digital marketing has transformed the travel industry and smart brands are relying on lifestyle content and fan photos to show off their amazing hotels and locales. Check out our free guide: Creativity on the Fly: The Rise of Lifestyle Content for Travel Brands to learn:

  • The importance of visual content throughout every stage of the travel journey.
  • How to engage travel consumers across nine key digital touchpoints.
  • Actionable tips and tricks to help you monetize your content across channels.