Notebook: The Millenial Traveller

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As Millenials come into financial success, the business world is acknowledging the advent of the Instant Retail Customer: customers who make impulse buys in bed, at breakfast, even on the potty, particularly when it comes to making travel plans.

If you were born in the 1980s, you qualify as a Millenial, the demographic cohort between Generation X and Generation Y (i.e. aged between 20 and 36). At the heels of the Millenial comes the descriptor digitally savvy, which connotes a people who basically live off the Internet and their mobile devices.

An interesting conference held last month, called Millenial 20/20, the first of its kind in Singapore, looked, according to its website, into the future of ‘nextgen commerce from the perspective of a digitally savvy consumer with a micro-focus on key pillars that include Retail, Marketing, Mobile, Payments, Video, Social, E-Commerce, CRM, Advertising and Big Data.” In short, whatever was new, innovative, and potentially disruptive (currently the darling word of any startup).

What else is the Millenial? The Millenial is all about being mobile, the smartphone an extension of the physical body, and in the commercial world, have been given a new tag: the Instant Retail Customer. As keynote speaker Mark Liversidge, Hilton Worldwide’s Asia Pacific chief marketer, said of the Millenial, “The smartphone is the 79th organ of the human body.”

Mobiles makes travellers impulsive, he said. In his presentation, he pointed out that 27% of travellers make their bookings/reservations in bed, 23% at work, 20% on public transport. In other words, they decide on the go. And more and more, travellers are booking their rooms, flights, activities, later and later, most less than one week before they travel.

The buzzword is integration. Most people know what it means, but in the commercial world, the one who understands how people make decisions and uses it to their advantage wins. Take the Chinese online travel agency, modestly called ctrip.com. Here, the mainland Chinese traveller, and those residing in Taiwan, HongKong and Macau, can book and pay for flights, trains, hotels and package tours within and outside China all on one site, simply by clicking through its five pages titled Flights, Hotels, Trains, Vacation Packages, Things to Do. According it its website’s business strategy, ctrip has plans to expand outside of China into the global market.

Of course, anyone born before the 1980s benefits from all this disruptive technology, although it is the Millenials who tend to be early adopters. Non-Chinese frequent travellers can hardly wait for travel sites to be fully integrated so we can literally get on a plane, book a place, decide where to go, what to experience, within a space of 24 hours.

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