Of all the key overseas source markets for the U.S. tour and travel industry, none has been glued to the past in the way its travelers research and book travel as much as Germany. While declining in their numbers ever so slowly over the past decade, German long-haul travelers—in particular, those who account for the two million or so visits to the United States from the country—have maintained a fealty to the traditional distribution system, usually making the point of purchase at a travel agency or over the phone with a travel agent.
No longer. A new survey of the German market by Yougov—”Millennials as Digital Travelers”—informs us that Millennials (those born from 1981 to 1996 and who are now 22 to 37 years old), the first generation to be grow up digitally, are driving up the percentage of Germans who are booking holidays and other trips online and as separate products rather than as packages from tour operators.
Some of the findings from the Yougov survey, as reported by the German travel trade publication FVW, include the following:
—The percentage of millennials (also known as Generation Y) to book accommodation through Booking.com (headquartered in Amsterdam, it is the world’s largest OTA) has increased from 25 percent to 28 percent over the last two years, and at Airbnb has increased from 15 percent to 19 percent.
—Traditional tour operators such as TUI are declining in popularity among millennials—the percentage of their numbers using them has declined from 22 percent two years ago to 19 percent.
—Millennials use the internet extensively to research travel information, with two out of five (39 percent) paying attention to online hotel evaluations, compared to only 29 percent of respondents over age 35.
—These young adults are parsimonious in their travel spending. More than a quarter (27 percent) selected their most recent holiday destination taking low costs into account, while 18 percent of “over-35’s” did so.
—Just 20 percent of millennials selected their destination because they had already been there and enjoyed their stay.
Discussing the results of the survey, Yougov consultant Sven Runge warned that traditional travel companies should take note of the trends: “Traditional providers should continually monitor the travel behavior and needs of Generation Y, in order not to completely lose them as customers to suppliers of individual products.”