It seems every time I fire up my inbox, there’s a blog post or discussion about attracting millennials to your vacation rental. What is it about these modern super-humans, born somewhere between 1982 and 2000, that attracts so much discussion?
In part, the fascination is because they came of age with the Internet—or, in some cases, never knew life without it. That makes a difference when it comes to how they interact with the world, say the experts.
But what about the way they travel, and what they value in their travel experience? Are they actually any different from your average modern vacation rental guest? I say no, not really. And here’s why.
The Context – Millennials as Modern Vacation Rental Guests
As you read the views on this much-discussed generation, one thing is clear: millennials are your future vacation rental guests.
As Matt Landau (a self-confessed millennial) points out in his millennial blog:
…over the next few years, people my age will emerge as the holy grail of the vacation rental business. And if you manage to successfully earn our loyalty now, you may very well have it for life.
I can’t argue with that! This group is the youngest segment in the pool of potential guests—some making their own travel decisions for the first time. Impress and connect with a millennial and you statistically have more years of repeat bookings ahead.
But here’s the thing. While it’s absolutely helpful to think about the types of guests you are targeting, I’d argue it’s more about identifying traits than age. Many dinosaurs* exhibit the same traits as millennials…just as many millennials exhibit the same traits as dinosaurs!
*I take my lead from Heather Bayer, who referred to herself as a dinosaur on her latest podcast. She’s far from it, though. She blogs, she podcasts, she tweets. That’s no dinosaur – that’s a non-millennial behaving like a millennial!
Baby Boomer? Dinosaur? Gen X? Millennial?
Are they different? Of course. Shaped by varying years of life experience and historical context, they all carry different perspectives. And this matters when you’re trying to attract them to book your vacation rental.
But consider for a minute the possibility that each of these groups exhibits some of the same traits when searching for a place to stay. Here are 5 of those traits.
Trait #1: I’m Practical
Every demographic will visit your website or listing site. Almost without fail. The days of finding a vacation rental in classified ads are pretty much dead.
And every demographic is looking for their vacation rental choice to fit a certain type, size, price, and date availability. Freewheeling as some millenials are, they still want to know what to expect from a place they rent, and they don’t want to be misled.
Which means the good old-fashioned principles of accurately and simply describing your vacation rental have to remain top of your list. Don’t believe anybody who says that creativity is more important than clarity.
Make sure your photos and copy are an accurate depiction of your place, and make sure you provide all the important info right up front. Where are you (specifically) located? How many beds and baths? Are you designed for families, couples? And importantly, how are you different from your competition?
That’s not to say that, once you’ve accurately and clearly conveyed your selling points, you can’t have fun with your marketing! Which brings us to…
Trait #2: I’m in Need of Inspiration
“Infovores” is the term Matt Landau used to describe millenials. His view is that they’re always in search of good content. Note that this isn’t about information itself. It’s about tailored information—a kind of curated stay.
Millenials, in this view, want to leave a place feeling they really know it…that, during their stay, they were more a short-term local than a tourist. Which means finding the restaurants locals love and the activities locals flock to on the weekends.
I find this concept really interesting. (And I’m not a millennial.) In fact I think this is the future of converting guests, whether they’re millennials or dinosaurs. The reason is simple – we’re all looking for something different. A hook.
The web can be an awfully generic place. You can spend hours searching for the vacation rental that says, “I’m the one,” and never find it. We’re inundated with bland information. And that can be a seriously depressing, energy-sapping experience!
Light up my search! Just like Claire O’Connor’s vacation rental website, Casita Encanta, does. What a breath of fresh air. It clearly communicates what I need to know, but on top of that, oozes charm and character.
Best of all it has deep, curated content on the “About the Area” pages. I know I’ll save hours of painful research and poor experiences by booking with Claire.
And, again, I’m not a millennial. I’m a modern vacation rental guest suffering from information overload. I’m an infovore with a pretty full belly. I don’t need carb heavy info, I need lean protein info!
Trait #3: I’m Device-Obsessed
What about the way modern vacation rental guests access your website? Can we say that millennials are more likely to use a mobile device than a baby boomer? Not in my family, at least…
My father carries an iPhone and his Macbook wherever he goes. My in-laws and my mother have iPads (in fact I think my mother-in-law carries her iPad mini in her handbag). Drop down into the 40-somethings (me) and you find us all glued to our devices.
Truth is, we’re all dancing in the age of modern gadgets and a faster way of life. It’s not a factor of age. It’s a factor of time. It’s just the way things are right now.
So the real question is “Should I ensure I have a mobile-friendly site?” The answer is yes.
(On top of the reasons above, Google now boosts the ranking of mobile-friendly pages in its mobile search results.)
Trait #4: I’m Impatient
Now this one certainly isn’t the sole domain of a millennial. If I don’t reply to texts from “the older people in my life” (no names) I get a series of follow up “why haven’t you responded??” messages.
I’m the same if I’m honest. Generally speaking, we’re all crazy, rapid-fire, vaguely entitled people. We like to be instantly acknowledged. Especially when it comes to seeking out opportunities to spend our hard-earned money.
It’s even more important in the vacation rental space because, as guests, we’ve usually fired off a few inquiries to places we’ve found. In most cases, we’ll reward the people who get back to us first.
Trait #5: I’m Open to Seduction
As a follow on to trait #4, if you respond quickly to my inquiry AND you seduce me in that response, I’m converted.
So, how to seduce me? Show me that you’re a friendly, engaging, welcoming person. That works across the board, whether you’re responding to an inquiry from a millennial or a dinosaur. (And truthfully, how do you know the difference from a simple email inquiry, anyway? Maybe I mentioned I have kids, but lots of millenials have kids!)
Here’s an Android example. Why should I buy from you and not owner #2? I bet you owner #2 will tell me:
Good news, your dates are available. The price is $2,000 plus taxes and cleaning fee. If you’d like to book let me know.
Yawn. How about:
Thanks, Andy, for your inquiry. Your dates are available!
You mentioned you’ll have kids with you. As parents ourselves, we stocked the rental with all the stuff kids love to take to the beach…sandcastle-building supplies, boogie-boards, etc. And they’ll love our private pool, too.
Don’t worry—no need to respond individually and in-depth to everyone. You can create a “kid-friendly” template that you can pull out when the occasion calls for it. It still sounds like you’re talking directly to me, and I’ll never know the difference.
Need help crafting that perfect email response? Try Guest Hook. We write templates that nail the right tone and capture guests right off the bat.
Back to the Original Question
Should you care about millennials? Yes, but no more or less than any other generational group. What you should care about is the modern vacation rental guest, who may not have come of age with the Internet, but whose life is still profoundly influenced by the shifting tides of the present day.
Focus on the above (across-the-board) traits and you’ll get a diverse, happy group of guests that will return year after year!