Why Airlines Are Choosing To Focus On Millennials

As I board my ‘Air France’ flight from Paris to Berlin I look out through the glass jetway and see it is a flight operated by Joon. It’s a comical reminder that Air France attempted to create an entire airline that would appeal to millennials, and also a reminder that it had limited success and will shut down this summer. Despite this, the trend is that airlines are choosing to focus on millennials – maybe just not in such overt ways as Joon.

Joon was Air France’s attempt at an “airline for Millenials” Photo: Wikipedia

We won’t get in to why Joon wasn’t a smashing success; there’s another Simple Flying article for that. Rather, we’ll investigate why millennials are increasingly the target market for airlines. The main reason should be obvious: Profitability. But lets break this down.

It’s all about the experience

Recently, Vrbo surveyed American travelers and the results were eye-opening:

  • Millennials are the group most likely to go into debt for travel
  • They are most likely to travel for exploration
  • They’ll travel for hobbies or activities in 2019

While the survey shouldn’t be representative of everyone in the world – especially with the multitude of cultural differences, some behaviors do transcend cultures. Especially in this age of hyper-connectivity.

Corporations and businesses have spent large amounts of time and energy marketing to millennials Photo: Pexels/RawPixel.com

Looking at the survey results, you can see why airlines might want to focus on this age group. This is a generation that values experiences over possessions, and is more likely to go into debt to seek these experiences. In fact, in an article by The Economic Times Abraham Alapatt, a marketing executive at Thomas Cook stated:

“We have witnessed over the past few years fairly aggressive growth in terms of the number of people enquiring about travel loans. People are now used to the fact that across products and services, loans are being offered. As more young customers come into play, they are more aligned to the concept of taking loans, even for a vacation.”

Marketing and social media

In addition to taking on debt for travel, millennials are more likely to share their entire experience on social media with their social networks: Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.. To an airline, it sounds like a free marketing opportunity if you have a good product to offer!

Furthermore, airlines can gain valuable insight into the successes and failures of their operations through monitoring social media. In fact, it’s fairly standard now to engage airlines on social media and call them out publicly on their shortcomings.

With many social media platforms, the “conversation” is public and for everyone to see. Therefore, an airline is able to show that it cares about its customers by engaging in dialogue and publicly addressing negative posts and comments.

An example of interaction on social media. An Instagram post by Singapore Airlines

Conclusion

As a millennial myself, I don’t necessarily feel right making sweeping generalizations about an age group or demographic. At least the survey and its results can speak for itself! What do you think about the growing focus on millennials, have they gone too far? Is it a trend that will benefit everyone or should airlines be focusing on some other demographic?

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