Is your advertising Ageist? Millennials aren't the answer.
Unless you are a trendy, highly interactive, far advanced in-front of the tech/social/networking world (i.e. Pokemon Go), Millennials can't be your only target audience.
I recently heard a "professional consultant" tell a group of tourism based businesses that they shouldn't post any pictures of people over the age of 40.
Marketing Professionals might tell you to target Millennials because:
1) Older people are brand loyal and have already made up their minds.
2) Have already traveled everywhere they are going to travel and won't go anywhere new.
3) Older people don't want to be reminded of their age, so they respond better to younger people in photos
The highest growth group in travel are over the age of 60 and it is the fastest growing age group. (Source US Travel Association) They have money, they have more vacation (ie already retired), no kids at home, and are the most educated group of retired (or nearly retired) people ever in history. They like to explore & they like to be with other people their age!! They understand, with the latest updates in medical research, that travel and changing activities keeps you healthy mentally and physically.
If the retailers have figured it out and are starting to show more variety in age, size, and ethnicity in their advertising, why hasn't the travel industry caught up?
Why are Marketing and Advertising "experts" and the newly released generation of college graduates with a marketing degree hell bent on increasing their focus on social media and the main resource for marketing and creating Millennial based content? Bob Hoffman "The Ad Contrarian" thinks that it's "mediocre marketers" target millennials as the latest trend. Professor Mark Ritson of the Melbourne Business School is highlighted in this month's edition of Marketing NW as saying "Millennials don't exist and are not a segment... Social Media is just that Social Media. It isn't sales based marketing." Just because you don't understand something and are worried about "missing out" doesn't mean you should trust that this is the best way to spend your advertising dollars. Social Media has instant gratification on such a small scale when compared to actual people through the door, buying a ticket, booking a room, or enjoying a meal. The numbers simply don't add up.
So what can you do? It all comes down to knowing your audience and apply traditional marketing skills to a true marketing plan. Actually talk to the people and find out how they found you, what tools they use to research, where they are from, etc. You don't have to pay a lot of money to find out what is working and what isn't in your advertising budget. Ask the really tough questions & WRITE DOWN THE ANSWERS, "when and where did you first hear about our business". If you have a retail space where people like the browse, play a game of matching the relative age of a shopper vs dollars spent and write it down so you have something to tally later. You might be surprised by the results. Once you have a good average, use the marketing tools in your arsenal to apply your advertising budget (this includes time as well as dollars) and apply them accordingly.
Don't forget the ABC's, Always Be Closing... All of your social media, digital, and print advertising needs to reflect your goal of selling tickets, room nights, meals, etc. Don't forget the call to action in everything you do. If you don't ask for what you want, how with anyone know to give it to you.
Sources: How Brochures Impact Visitors, Independent study by Int'l Assn of Visitor Information Providers
State of the American Traveler, Miles Partnership