Under-35s are independent, online-savvy holidaymakers who want lower-budget, self-catering city and beach breaks. Juliet Dennis reports on Aito research
The trade is being urged to tap into the under-35s market after new statistics revealed the sector’s growth potential if targeted in the right way.
Information on the travel habits of the younger generation is crucial to future-proofing members’ businesses, according to the Aito Travel Insights 2015 report by the Association of Independent Tour Operators.
Chief executive Kate Kenward said: “We wanted to see where our future market is coming from and how to maintain their custom.
“If you don’t know what market is coming your way, we might as well shut up shop now.
“Agents and operators need to engage with the under-35s to gain their trust and keep them for life. They cannot ignore this sector.”
The Aito Travel Insights 2015 report, based on a survey in conjunction with Spike Marketing, draws on a poll in May of 28,000 customers of 39 suppliers, six agents and two tourist offices. The association analysed results from just under 2,000 under-35s.
The results showed more than half of young holidaymakers booked their last holiday independently, arranging transport and accommodation through different companies. Nearly a fifth booked their last holiday through a travel agency and nearly a third through a tour operator.
They are loyal customers and more likely to travel with immediate or extended family.
The opportunity, said Kenward, is to make them aware of the financial savings and benefits of booking a bonded holiday through the trade.
“It’s about feeding them all the options,” she said.
Aito also found out how the under-35s like to be communicated with.
It said they prefer digital communication: only 11% of under-35s were interested in using brochures to book, compared with 22% of 55 to 74-year-olds.
The under-35s were the biggest segment to read customer reviews online, with 43% doing so, a figure which fell to 28% for the 55-74 age group and 11% for over-75s.
A majority, 73%, said they preferred to be contacted about new holidays digitally, such as via e-newsletters and emails. But only 5% wanted to be contacted directly through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
Kenward said: “They want to be contacted with offers on email, but social media is their domain and they appear to be starting to set boundaries about who they ‘let in’.”
When it comes to booking, 43% plan and research trips online.
“If a company’s website is not mobile-friendly, there is a risk customers won’t follow through with their booking,” said Kenward.
The under-35s spend less than older customers, and should be targeted accordingly, said Kenward.
Just over a third (31%) spend between £500 and £999 on holidays, compared with only 16% of the 75-plus age group.
The difference in the disposable income of these two sectors is evident: 21% of over-75s spend between £2,000 and £2,999 on their holiday, compared with ?13% of under-35s.
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