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Home>UPDATE: Millennials are trying to redefine what it means to be an American tourist abroad

UPDATE: Millennials are trying to redefine what it means to be an American tourist abroad

UPDATE: Millennials are trying to redefine what it means to be an American tourist abroad

10/05/2017

By Kari Paul, MarketWatch

The 18-34 age group is spending less money, but endeavoring to do more with it

River Tatry, a 23-year-old freelancer based in New York City who travels abroad each year, likes to volunteer with nonprofits, take classes, or stay with locals using apps like Couchsurfing and Airbnb when on the road. For Tatry, packing into a tour bus in Europe or laying on a beach at a resort isn't an appealing vacation.

"I don't travel to relax, I travel to have new and interesting experiences," Tatry said. "For me, it is much more worthwhile to integrate myself into a place, learn something new, make local friends to visit again, and build community."

Members of Generation X and baby boomers like to deride millennials for just about everything. But recent research suggests older folks could learn a lot from these young adults when it comes to traveling. "Millennials have been bored in the past by traditional tours and resort stays with their parents," Andrew Sheivachman, analyst at travel industry site Skift said. "Now that they plan their own vacations, they want to spend on enriching experiences instead of accommodations and airfare."

Millennials are increasingly seeking out authentic travel, a new study from travel insurance company Allianz Global Assistance found, using sharing economy services to stay and learn (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-ways-to-make-the-world-a-better-place-while-you-travel-2017-06-09) while abroad. Just 58% of people 35 and older trust the sharing economy compared with 83% of those between 18 and 34, the Allianz study found, and 77% of millennials had actually used sharing economy services (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/after-the-fyre-festival-millennials-still-want-to-live-like-millionaires-on-the-cheap-2017-05-05) compared with just 39% of those 35 and older.

A number of tour companies have emerged catering to the demand for "hyper-local travel," including Visit.org, which says it invests back into the local community. Online travel agency Responsible Travel focuses on eco-friendly travel (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-ways-to-make-the-world-a-better-place-while-you-travel-2017-06-09) in small groups that partner with local communities.

Christian Wolters, North American managing director at tour-booking website TourRadar (http://www.tourradar.com), said interest in guided tours isn't dying off, just evolving. The top three travel styles for millennials are Discovery, Adventure and In-Depth Cultural trips, he said. "They're looking for more meaning when it comes to traveling and a local experience that will offer them a chance to learn firsthand about that country," he said.

Millennials have less money and time to spend on vacation (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-why-millennials-cant-have-nice-things-or-save-any-money-2017-06-26), Sheivachman said. This age group spends an average of $1,373 a year on vacation compared with people 35 years and older who spend $2,308 and the average American traveler who spends $1,977, the Allianz study showed. They also have the fewest vacation days, the Allianz study found taking an average of 8.4 of their 12 paid vacation days a year. By comparison, travelers older than 35 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/these-american-workers-are-least-likely-to-take-their-paid-vacation-2016-12-19) take an average of 12 days a year of 15 days of paid vacation.

"Millennials may not be able to take long trips due to anxiety (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/75-of-americans-have-done-this-to-pay-for-a-vacation-2017-06-21) over leaving work for too long, but they are experienced online shoppers and want to make the most of the limited vacations they are able to take," Sheivachman said. Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) launched GoBe.com in March, a booking site that lists thousands of local activities through partnerships with tour guides around the world (https://skift.com/2017/03/22/royal-caribbean-creates-tour-booking-site-gobe-to-go-after-land-vacations/).

Airbnb launched its "Experiences" feature in 2016, which allows travelers to book tours and classes with local experts to facilitate a more "immersive" experience. In September, it added its 40th location (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/25/travel/airbnb-tours-hosts-new-york.html): New York City, where visitors can now dye fabrics (https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/35518?) with an artist in Brooklyn, learn street dancing (https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/111448) in the Bronx and watch a designer create hats (https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/103995) in Manhattan's trendy SoHo neighborhood.

Kelsey Blodget, senior executive editor of hotel-review site Oyster.com, said the hotel industry is also scrambling to evolve to meet the needs of this new generation of traveler. Boutique hotels are offering extras to lodgers like loaner typewriters, turntables, bicycle rentals, and free wine hours to help the property appeal to a younger, hipper demographic.

"There are still plenty of travelers who are going to want to see major attractions and want an easy, convenient experience, so I don't see the traditional tour going away anytime soon," she said. "But hotels absolutely are trying to get more creative with what they can help travelers arrange."

-Kari Paul; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

10-04-17 2208ET

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