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  • Writer's pictureJim Gagen

Old School – Experience & Judgement Wins

Who’s The Expert?

Several years ago while at a travel industry conference, an “expert” travel consultant presented proprietary research showing Millennials’ travel spending exceeding that of Boomers and Generation X. While I understand changes in spending habits and marketing trends, I questioned the validity of their research as it was inconsistent with the syndicated research I had seen over the years. At the same time, a lot was being written about the importance of Millennials, so I understood their attractiveness to marketers. However, as someone with experience with the travel industry and Millennials, I wondered if this was another example of the marketing industry getting ahead of themselves. The reasons for this concern were my feelings that:

1. Millennials did not travel as much as Boomers or Gen Xers

2. Many Millennials did not have money

Millennials Traveling

While I understood the importance of marketing to Millennials and the fact that they are a viable target, I felt that they were more of a market for travel marketers IN THE FUTURE! As someone who travels a lot, I have consistently seen the exact opposite of what the “expert” presented at the travel conference, that is far more Boomers and GenXers than Millennials in airports, highways and rest stops. I even joked to some people that Millennials must travel in some parallel universe and use different airports and highways as they certainly weren’t using the same ones I traveled.

Millennials & Money

Similar to me witnessing the scarcity of Millennials traveling, I also observed the financial challenges of Millennials and heard the jokes about those “living in their parents’ basements”, thus questioned their buying power. Last week’s Adweek article vindicated me and my assertion with the headline, “Why Targeting Millennial Consumers Might Not Be Such a Hot Idea After All.” It goes on to say, “A growing body of evidence shows why Gen Y consumers aren’t ideal because many of them are broke."

Old School Lesson

While research is important, it’s also critical to use your own experiences and judgement. This is particularly true when you aren’t familiar with the source of the research and it seems to be defying logic. Sometimes good old-fashion common sense is better than research, especially when the research says something that is the complete opposite of what you are seeing with your own eyes.

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