When it comes to growing your vacation rental business, generational marketing (marketing by age group or generation) could be a useful tool to help you appeal directly to your customers’ interests. “Age is a straightforward way to gain insight into your audience, and it’s a cornerstone of segmenting, or categorizing customers into different groups,” noted Thomas Jefferson University in their online blog. However, they also note to be wary of generalizations: “The proper context is essential to implementing generational marketing in a thoughtful, genuine way.”
In this post, we’ll take a look at the different generations and which short-term rental amenities and perks draw them. Mindful vacation rental owners can boost their bookings by paying attention to the wants of all age groups.
Millennials are the generation born between 1980 and 1999. According to the Corporate Financial Institute, millennials are the most connected generation. They communicate via email and social media and are very in tune with technology.
What Millennials Look for in Vacation Rentals
When millennials are booking vacation rentals, they are drawn to:
- Neighborhood perks: Millennials like getting the neighborhood feel when they stay in short-term rentals.
- A strong social media presence: It’s no surprise that having a presence on social media to help millennials discover or find more information is a plus.
- Positive reviews: Millennials also value seeing what others’ experiences with a product or service have been and often take reviews and ratings into account.
- Easy bookings, particularly on their smartphones: Similar to social media presence, this makes the whole process more convenient and accessible for potential renters.
- Work-friendly travel amenities like a desk and a hair dryer: Millennials often book short-term rentals for work travel.
- WiFi: For the same reasons as work-friendly amenities, WiFi allows millennials to stay connected to work and keep in touch with others.
- Lots of bed space: Millennials are more likely to travel and book short-term rentals with friends than other generations.
Millennial Travel Behaviors
According to a HomeAway study, millennials:
- Look for unique options and connectivity
- Often extend business trips to take advantage of travel opportunities
- Prefer vacation rentals over hotels
- Take advantage of travel deals whenever they can
What Good Customer Service Looks like to Millennials
HomeAway also found that millennials appreciate:
- Solid social media presences
- Prompt responses from team members
- High-quality photos and virtual tours of properties
- An FAQ page
Gen Xers were born between 1965 and 1984. Business Insider said this “middle child” or “forgotten generation” earns more money yet has more debt than any other generation. They have an average net worth of $168,600 and an average household income of $105,173, making them the largest consumers of all the generations.
What Gen Xers Look for in a Vacation Rental
Gen Xers are drawn to:
- Nature and beautiful spaces: Let Gen Xers know about the parks, nature trails, and scenery by your vacation rental.
- Good food: Highlight nearby restaurants and cuisine to this group!
- Forgiving cancellation policies and travel insurance: This group likes to have peace of mind when they book travel.
- Family-friendly options: Gen Xers are always looking for cross-generational activities and accommodations.
- Ongoing relationships with their travel accommodations: Gen Xers are more likely to stick with experiences they like than to try new brands or vacation spots.
Gen Xer Travel Behaviors
A HomeAway study on generations found that Gen Xers:
- Follow their children’s school calendar and like to travel around special holidays and occasions
- They enjoy traveling in groups and will likely plan girls’ or guys’ trips
What Good Customer Service Looks like to Gen Xers
HomeAway also found that Gen Xers look for:
- Real-time answers
- Easy-to-read deposit policies
- Travel insurance and forgiving cancellation policies
- High-quality ongoing relationships with who they rent from
Seniors & Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers and seniors were born in 1964 or earlier. An AARP Report on Boomer Travel trends found that this group will spend over $6,000 annually on travel. This group sticks with what they know and opts for hotels/motels as accommodations (or even a cruise ship) before considering a short-term rental. Don’t give up on this group, however. Learn about their interests and market to and accommodate them.
What Baby Boomers Look for in a Vacation Rental
Baby boomers prioritize:
- Accessibility: A 4-story walk up or an all-stairs entry are not ideal vacation rentals for baby boomers.
- Personal connections: This group cares more about their experience on the phone with you, whereas millennials care more about their online and smartphone experiences.
- Luxury and convenience: Baby boomers are not interested in “roughing it” or glamping.
- Local activities: These could include wine tastings, historical sites, museums, art shows, and more.
Baby Boomer Travel Behaviors
AARP says that baby boomers:
- Travel annually and will take up to five trips per year
- Like warmer destinations and often pay for multi-generational trips
- Show little interest in mixing business with pleasure (unlike millennials) and plan vacations completely separate from their jobs
- Take advantage of airline and hotel loyalty programs more than any other generation
What Good Customer Service Looks like to Baby Boomers
HomeAway found that baby boomers care about:
- A simple experience with technology
- Instructions for how to use the TV
- Phone calls
- Ease, patience, and convenience
Tailor Your Approach for Your Renters
Understanding what interests the different generations can help vacation rental owners broaden their customer base. The exact same property can have features that draw all ages, and you can be strategic about your advertising and placement. Or perhaps your property clearly is more fitting for one age group that you can hone in on. For example, a small cabin in the woods with bunk beds and limited accessibility is probably not a good fit for baby boomers. Appealing to your target audience can be a competitive edge to improve not only your portfolio, but your renters’ vacations as well.