Photos, Food & Formulas: Destination Marketing to Millennials

In 2017, Break the Ice Media attended the Empire State Tourism Conference in Lake Placid. This information-packed conference was the perfect place to pick up new trends and learnings- and nothing was a hotter topic than marketing to millennials.

The Wild Center held a session all about this topic, called “Marketing the Adirondacks to Millennials: The Adirondacks & The Next Generation” and was presented by The Wild Center, Trampoline Design, and High Falls Gorge. It focused on their collaborative study of millennials and the Adirondack Region, which was summed up in a book that was handed out to attendees (and also available for download).

Consider this your TL;DR version of my favorite highlights of the guide, and general trends to keep in mind when marketing to millennials.

Get social

We’re there. We’re looking to engage with brands and destinations. If you’re not on social media, you’re missing out on these interactions. You know this. We know that you know this. It doesn’t have to be rocket science- check out this great 1-minute video from the Wild Center on their Sugar Shack. They’ve created a 25-video series based around 1-minute snippets!

Photos over everything

86% of millennials value experiences over possessions. And this is good news, since as a destination, your biggest asset is the experience. And the only thing better than experiencing experiences is documenting them (And wifi isn’t required to take a fantastic insta pic).

You can’t fake organic chatter

We can smell authenticity- whether it’s a business that doesn’t belong on a social channel, or a fake review on TripAdvisor or Yelp. We know our social channels, and can usually spot an imposter. Don’t fake it ‘til you make it- that will hurt your credibility. Stick to your strengths because every destination has a draw.

We. Love. Food. 

Not like. Not like-like. We love it. We love it so much that 49% of millennials know where they’re eating during their trip before they even arrive at the destination. And 64% of us want to experience local food, beer, and wine when we travel. So go ahead- show off your culinary side.

Website design matters

It’s easy to think that in such a social media heavy world, a website can carry less weight- but 82% of millennials check the official destination website when deciding where to vacation. (That’s a lot.) So keep your website up-to-date, full of good photos that show off your destination, and easy to navigate (so we can find that perfect brunch spot).

We have a travel formula

It’s an unconscious one, but there’s a consensus nonetheless. A travel distance of one to two hours is a day trip, and requires enough activities to fill a day. Three to four hours requires an overnight stay, and enough activities to fill two full days. We’re not going to do everything- but we want the options. Which brings us to…

Options are a must

Don’t worry about overwhelming us. We’ve been navigating an information-saturated world for most of our lives- we want options and want to find them easily. We’re looking for options on what to do, what to see, where to stay, and eat, and even options for where we can find all of this information.

Make it easy for us. Claim your TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google Business, have the appropriate and maintained social media channels, and keep your website current and user-friendly. Don’t forget to keep ADA-compliance in mind!

And finally, tell a story

Words matter. Choose the right ones for your destination. Consider this example from The Wild Center:

The journey rewards those who choose the unbeaten path

I may have written down this quote specifically for my next inspirational Instagram post, but that’s beside the point- it perfectly highlights the power of a well-written tag-line.

Marketing to millennials doesn’t have to be challenging or confusing. The guidebook from The Wild Center helps break down the study into small, actionable items (and bonus- it’s aesthetically pleasing!)

Curious to learn more about the conference? Check out Colleen’s blog.

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