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Musts, Myths and Motivations of Millennial Travelers

Kerry Cannon

Our Vice Chairman, Peter Yesawich, and I recently attended the Florida Gaming Conference at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando. The conference, held on January 7th, and hosted by Spectrum Gaming Group, is the premier forum for professionals involved in expanding the gaming industry in Florida. Peter was the keynote speaker and kicked off the conference with his presentation: “Understanding Millennials: Musts, Myths and Motivations”.

This was a compelling and provocative look at the Millennial generation’s interest in gaming and gambling casinos as primary motivations for travel. The findings he presented were from MMGY Global’s 2015 Portrait of American Travelers® (POAT). Now in its 25th consecutive year, POAT is the most insightful, actionable survey of the emerging vacation habits, preferences and intentions of Americans.

The Millennial traveler is of particular interest to those in the casino gaming industry, as they represent the next wave of potential guests, as folks in the Mature and Boomer cohorts age out. But the Millennial traveler is unlike any of its predecessors in habits, motivations, media consumption or where they seek out information. And while 38% of them consider casino gambling desirable on vacation, it still doesn’t crack the top 10 when it comes most desirable vacation attributes, such outdoor adventure, learning new skills, and spa/wellness. So where does that leave travel suppliers that feature gaming as a primary feature of their destination or property?

The challenge Peter posed in his talk was that if only 9% of Millennials took a vacation in the past year where gambling was the primary purpose of the trip, where is growth going to come from? Compared to 13% for Boomers and 11% for Matures, gaming establishments have some work to do to convince Millennials that a gambling vacation is right for them. However, there are a number of unique characteristics exhibited by Millennials when planning and taking vacations that create real opportunities.

Some key takeaways from the keynote…

  • By a significant margin, Millennials are planning to take more trips next year, compared with Gen X, Boomers and Matures, all of which indicate they are planning to travel the same or less.
  • 69% of Millennials took at least one or more weekend trips in the past year, which was significantly higher (13%) than other cohorts.
  • 49% of Millennials took at least one “last minute” vacation in the past year, which was 23% higher than other groups.
  • These folks like to travel in groups, with 44% indicating that they took at least one trip last year with a group of friends.
  • 47% of them believe that the destinations they visit say a lot about who they are as individuals.
  • They are super savvy when it comes to technology with 38% of them using their smart phone, tablet and laptop to regularly access the Internet. We refer to them as the “digital elite.”
  • They spend over four hours per day accessing the Internet for personal use.
  • And 69% of them tell us that the first thing they do in the morning is check their mobile devices.

The opportunity is clear: Millennials represent the largest generational cohort among all active travelers today, and that influence will grow exponentially over the coming decades. However, the challenges are clear:

  • Gaming is viewed by Millennials as an amenity, not a primary driver of demand.
  • Their interest in gaming is secondary to other recreational activities.
  • Traditional appeal of gaming destinations doesn’t resonate with them.
  • Their media habits are radically different and fragmented.
  • Brand loyalty is elusive.

Learn more about millennials and travel in this infographic.

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