Is the Tourism Industry ready for serving the largest market in travel?

Is a question that came to mind, whilst I was discussing summer travel plans with my niece, arguably my best insight into the world of Millennials. With holidays around the corner, I asked her how she planned to travel whilst away from University. She stared at me strangely, as if I was not up to date, with the latest trends and set about explaining how technology made planning an entire trip possible, over a Tall Soy Latte (what happened to regular coffee?). She would find a flight online, within her budget, in minutes. Room bookings through Airbnb and figure out what to do, by reading what others are saying on TripAdvisor.com.

To put things in perspective, thinking about how I (many moons ago) was a teenager and how the industry catered to us. Student deals at Flight Centres, YMCAs and the famed Lonely Planet travel guides (print versions) came to mind. Flight booking centres on the high street (remember those?) would urge those on shoe-string budgets with neon posters, with cheap flights to dream destinations. Ticket in hand, the next stop would be to buy a print version of a trusted travel guide, from the nearest bookstore. Evenings would be spent planning, highlighting and underlining. For hotels, we would either enquire with the travel agent, or chance it by trying to score a deal at an airport arrival hotel counter. Which often meant, wandering door to door at city hotels looking for a good deal.

The future, as is no surprise, is digital. The need for human interaction from booking flights, to seeking help at a bookstore or negotiating in person at a hotel counter, is slowing diminishing. The travel industry needs to ensure they can reach the world’s largest market digitally. I am convinced that stopping a Millennial on a high street and asking about their travel plans, may distract them from their connected world. After all, it’s best to send out that Tweet, before going underground. The industry needs to ensure their offerings are easily found on the High Street. The Digital High Street, which is growing exponentially.