Gallery: Farrah Storr Executive Lunch

Cosmopolitan editor Farrah Storr urges sector to target millennials. Amie Keeley reports

There is a “massive opportunity” for travel businesses to target millennials, Cosmopolitan’s editor-in-chief has said.

Farrah Storr said there was a lot of negative sentiment about the “selfie and snowflake generations”, who were often considered entitled and narcissistic by older people.

But she said millennials were more complex than they were given credit for.

Speaking at a Travel Weekly Executive Lunch, she said: “They have grown up in the 1980s and 1990s, during a time of individualism, and told they could achieve whatever they wanted if they wanted it enough.

“They’ve grown up with high self-esteem, so there is a disconnect between what they were told they can be and what they can achieve in reality.”

She said social media had become a platform for millennials to express their individuality.

“They don’t have hope so they have to be self-made. They want to run their own businesses and have their own brands.

“They want value for money. There’s a massive opportunity with a whole group of people often overlooked. I don’t think money is what motivates them, it’s status.

“We need to change the dialogue around the snowflake generation – that they are meek and entitled. Give them the tools to be tougher and to survive.”

Asked how she would deal with seemingly “entitled” millennial job applicants, Storr said: “Ask them what they want and then ask them what they are going to give you. Make them work for it.

“If you can help make them this person with life skills, they will give you loyalty.”

However, she said millennials were often more concerned with being “seen to do the right thing” rather than actually doing it.

“The generation coming up will see this and say ‘I genuinely care’.

‘Pick influencers who already get your brand’s ethos’

Travel firms should choose social media influencers who love their brand over those with the largest number of followers, according to Cosmopolitan’s editor-in-chief.

Farrah Storr said it took the magazine almost a year to “wade through” influencers to create the right network.

“We had a nightmare with influencers because it took us almost a year to find out what they had done before and what they had spoken about.

“There are beauty influencers who say ‘pay me and I’ll write something bad about your competitor’ and they don’t
have guidelines, whereas journalists are kept to a strict code of ethics.

“The one thing I found that worked for us, were those who had posted about Cosmo for years. They get the brand. That was how we decided who we work with. You can’t just say: ‘They’ve got three million followers, let’s use them’.”

‘Equal opportunities is preferable to quotas, but some women do not want top roles’

Creating equal opportunities for women to reach the top or take up male-dominated roles is more important and effective than quotas.

Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Farrah Storr said programmes to encourage women into ‘male’ jobs were important, but many women did not want to work in those roles.

“I’ve always thought equality of opportunity – so you have the biggest pool to choose from – is preferable to quotas,” she said. “The reality is you might have to have a little bit of that [quotas] for people to think ‘I can do that’.

“However, very generally speaking, women are more attracted to marketing and caring industries, because we are caring and more inclined towards these roles.”

Referring to the educational focus on Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), she said: “That’s great, but some women don’t want to do that, and that’s OK.

“Some don’t want to get to the top because they look at it and think ‘that looks miserable, working all hours, sacrificing everything’. So it is an individual, case by case basis.

“Give equality of opportunity. But it will take a long time, years, to do that properly.”

GalleryFarrah Storr Executive Lunch