“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn” should be the mantra for travel marketers targeting Millennials, says Lucy Gillions of Jackanory

Using experiential to engage and involve Millennials drives travel bookings


“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn” should be the mantra for travel marketers targeting Millennials, says Lucy Gillions of Jackanory

We often reference this quote – which has been attributed to a range of people, including Benjamin Franklin and a Chinese Confucian scholar writing 2,500 years ago – when discussing the importance and value of experiential marketing with clients.

That’s because, even today, it has huge relevance – arguably, even greater relevance as a “Millennial mantra”, a quote that underscores Millennials’ desire to be involved in hand-picked authentic experiences, using social media to validate their choice.

It’s no longer a surprise that this emphasis on being unique and growing their identity through culturally-rich experiences and the exploration of the unknown has led to travel being of the utmost importance for Millennials – more important than escaping from their student loans, buying a big-ticket item or even improving their relationships with family and friends.

Savvy travel companies have been quick to catch on to the fact that Millennial travel experiences aren’t the same as those of their predecessors, but rather involve more adventure and the desire for more customisation.

Millennials don’t want to be told by travel brands where they should be visiting and what they should be doing when they get there. They want to be involved in the decision-making, empowered to seek out unique activities and experiences that can be validated on social platforms through a mixture of likes, shares and comments. In fact, 43% of Millennials said that the comments and likes they receive from social media are as important or more important than the trip itself.*

So how can travel bodies, businesses and brands continue to connect with Millennials and benefit from their favourable attitudes towards travel and travel-related spending?

Understanding the motivations of this powerful group of travellers should be the first step. All travel brands should by now be aware of the tensions that exist for Millennials in the travel space: **

  • Comfortable vs experiential – what am I expected to do vs how can I explore outside of my comfort zone?
  • Digital vs in real life – is this an experience I want to share with my social networks vs how can I live in the moment and not be distracted by daily technologies?
  • Realistic vs aspirational – what can I afford vs what do I want?
  • Planned vs spontaneous – can I fit everything I want to do in my itinerary vs how do I take advantage of in-the-moment opportunities?
  • Informed vs inspired – what brands can I rely on for accuracy and transparency vs what brands can I rely on to inspire my next adventure?

With these tensions in mind, it goes without saying that Millennials are less interested in packaged travel options and instead want to engage in immersive, interactive and hands-on opportunities. Millennials view travelling as vital to the development of their personal narrative and identity which is why the “involve me and I’ll learn” element of the quote resonates so deeply.

They are also reintroducing the trend of food tourism by planning trips with local cultural cuisine in mind. In fact, nearly three-quarters of Millennials seek unique restaurants and dining experiences when deciding where to travel.

If authentic travel experiences are vital to growing Millennials’ personal narratives, then surely one way of connecting with them is for travel bodies, businesses and brands to tap into their own narrative, share their own stories and tease them with authentic experiences on their doorstep?

The Hamburg Convention Bureau did exactly this in order to encourage Millennials to put Hamburg at the top of their city break wish list. By creating Hamburg on Tour, an interactive, socially-shareable, free experience at a venue in Shoreditch, Millennials could immerse themselves in the story of Hamburg, get a taste of the art, culture, food and music and gain some social currency to boot.

Of course, the experience needed to be bite-sized, so as not to replace the city break itself, but also had to be exciting enough to motivate the booking.

Travel Portland took a similar approach, bringing some of the city’s most inspired offerings to The Old Truman Brewery with its You Can, In Portland pop up. From April 19th to May 7th, 2018, they offered free vegan tattoos, intimate DJ sets, wine tastings, artists, fashion, comedians, craft beers, coffee and more – giving visitors a taste of what Portland has to offer.

It’s clear that travel bodies, businesses and brands could do worse than keeping “involve me and I learn” as their mantra when looking to engage with Millennials.

If you tell Millennials to do something, it’s unlikely they will. If you preach at them, they won’t listen. But if you work hard to involve them in the decision-making, and offer them unique, immersive and authentic experiences, sharing the story of the destination to motivate bookings, they’ll happily use and share these experiences to grow their personal narrative and identity.

*according to Iconoculture

**taken from FutureCast Millennial Brief on Travel and Lodging 2016

Lucy Gillions is co-founder of Jackanory, an experiential and events agency which believes in using the power of stories to create unique and memorable events and experiences.