According to a new study by the GfK research group on behalf of Airbnb, millennials prioritise travel over buying a car or home, or even paying off their debts. Most millennials even considered travel to be of almost equal importance as savings or retirement funds.
Airbnb’s findings show that this age group considers travel and vacationing as essential to their personal growth, and invest more in this pursuit than any other generation. This is fantastic news for the travel industry, with 80 million millennial consumers in the U.S. alone.
This global study surveyed about 1,000 students in the US, UK, and China and asked them to rank their fiscal priorities for the next five years. The majority of these students said that they would put aside more money for travel than for buying a house, buying a car, or for paying off their debts. Over 65% of those polled said that “regular travel is an important part of my life.”
In the US, millennials ranked savings and investment funds as their top priorities, followed closely by travel and purchasing a car, which ranked equally. In the UK, travel and savings were ranked as equally important. For Chinese millennials, by far the largest of the three groups, travel was considered to be the highest monetary priority by a wide margin. For millennials of all three countries, purchasing a home was the lowest priority.
The importance of travel is also steadily increasing across all millennial groups surveyed. 55% of respondents in the UK, 56% in the US, and 83% in China are spending more on travel this year than in 2015.
The style and purpose of travel is also changing, with millennials expressing that they desire to discover the local lifestyle and stay in residential neighbourhoods rather than in tourist hubs (fantastic news for Airbnb). They also voted food as their most important travel experience, ranking above nightlife, history, and tourist attractions.
One of the reasons for these changes, according to the study, is the hugely influential role of social media. The respondents said that the travel posts they see on platforms like Facebook and Instagram inspire their desire to travel and their chosen destinations more so than recommendations from coworkers, tour sites, or news sites. The overwhelming majority of those surveyed also said that they would very likely post their own travel experiences on social media.
This news is not just promising for the travel industry, however. As millennials travel, connect with other people and cultures, and share those experiences with countless others over the internet, it shows hope and promise for the future. Millennials’ interest in living a local experience–rather than staying in an all-inclusive resort or visiting only the major tourist sights, offering little-to-no authentic cultural contact–promises a more empathetic, understanding, and interconnected world.