- - Monday, July 28, 2014

Millennials might graduate with high levels of student debt and account for the highest percentage of the unemployed in America, but they haven’t slowed down on travel expenses and in fact prefer private accommodations rather than hotel stays. According to a global travel market research company, “private accommodation renters are young – more than half are under 35.”

A new report by PhoCusWright suggests that the new generation renters (18- to 34-year-olds) represent 31 percent of all rental travelers.

Where does this new generation of travelers prefer to stay?

They rent private homes, apartments and condos for leisure travel, and even rooms in private homes.

New generation travelers “harbor a special passion for travel, make spontaneous travel decisions, crave inspiration and personalization, seek unique experiences, do more traveling and travel planning with friends, and happily take trips solo,” said Eugene Ko of PhoCusWright.

In fact, millennials travel more frequently and spend much more than other renters. “27 percent of NGTs are frequent travelers, taking six or more leisure trips in the last year,” added Mr. Ko.

Meanwhile, Pew Research found that two-thirds of millennials with bachelor degrees have outstanding student debt, with the average of about $27,000, and that’s up $12,000 from just 20 years ago.

The Washington Times asked Douglas Quinby, vice president of research at PhoCusWright, about the cost associated with the high traveling percentage from this age group. “The private accommodation market is quite varied, and in many cases is positioning itself as less expensive than hotels, as well as offering more distinctive and authentic experiences,” he said.

Even though millennials tend to prefer private accommodations when compared to other age groups right now, budget-friendly hotels still do quite well, Mr. Quinby said.

And, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s 2014 profile, by the end of 2013 “the lodging industry generated $41 billion dollars in pretax income,” an increase of more than 10 percent since 2012 – showing that the uptick in private accommodation rentals hasn’t put a dent in the hotel and lodging industry.

Tamika Figgs from the American Hotel & Lodging Association told The Times that according to a 2012 U.S. Travel Association report, travelers “aged 45 to 54 generated slightly more trips (21 percent) than any other age group, while travelers aged 18 to 24 accounted for only 6 percent of domestic trips.”

Bottom line: The millennial generation doesn’t let student debt or unemployment slow it down when it comes to taking trips and travel expenses, especially when booking trips is literally at their fingertips.

Both Ms. Figgs and Mr. Ko noted millennials’ use of technology as a way to book travel accommodations.
The tech-savvy generation uses mobile devices and hand-held tablets more often than other travelers to plan and book trips.

“More than two in five booked a hotel on their smartphones in the past year,” said Mr. Ko.

Furthermore, Ms. Figgs cited an Expedia and Egencia “Future of Travel” study, which noted “75 percent of travelers worldwide use smartphones and tablets for personal and business reasons while traveling, but those aged 18-30 are more likely to do so.”

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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