Nevada tourism board hones in on Millennial market

All things considered, you won’t see as many Millennial travelers taking vacations in the Midwest.

It’s too boring.

A report received by the Nevada Commission on Tourism on Wednesday said Millennials and young Generation X travelers crave activity-based destinations for skiing, mountain climbing and hiking.

“When they started telling their stories, I was stunned,” said David Bratton, founder of Destination Analysts Inc., a San Francisco-based travel research company.

Baby boomers have been viewed as the most lucrative demographic for destination marketers to pursue because they have high levels of disposable income.

But the Destination Analysts report found Nevada to be the seventh most popular state for leisure travel in the next two years for Millennials, which the report portrayed as an opportunity. The reason: Rural Nevada is filled with activity-based experiences. The problem is that many of the Millennials are unaware of what’s outside Las Vegas and Reno.

Nevada trailed California, Florida, New York, Hawaii, Colorado and Texas as the most desirable place in the United States to visit.

Using a 57-question survey administered in November to 3,024 people between the ages of 18 and 40 and small-group online video conferencing with 55 participants in groups of two to four, Bratton found that the younger crowd sees travel as a critical part of their lives.

Millennials get most of their travel inspiration from social media and friends. Because unusual travel experiences are high on the typical Millennial’s radar, Bratton said the state should take advantage of promoting the state’s unique attributes on Facebook and create phone applications to build interest.

The report said 43.6 percent of the people surveyed for the report relied on Facebook posts for information about the places they travel.

“If Generation X was wired, Millennials are untethered,” Bratton said. “When asked about things they can’t live without, they listed WiFi and mobile phones.”

The state’s Tourism Commission already has committed to pursuing the Millennial traveler and plans to develop a Nevada tourism app.

The advantage to producing an app is that it can be downloaded into a smartphone and information can be stored and provided to the user without a cell signal in remote, rural locations.

The report said the average Millennial traveler took 5.7 leisure trips of 50 miles or more one way from their home last year. The typical American leisure traveler reported taking 4.8 similar leisure trips and Baby Boomers took 4.6.

But the Destination Analysts report had some sobering information for the commission.

Most Millennials see destination marketing organizations — like the Commission on Tourism and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority — as traditional and not modern, cutting edge or hip.

They believe most of those organizations have clunky online interfaces that won’t sort the type of information they’re seeking. They do, however, like events calendars and will cross-check them to make sure they don’t miss something.

When asked which Nevada attractions they were most interested in visiting, the survey listed Lake Tahoe and Reno as the top two, followed by Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, the state’s numerous ghost towns and Great Basin National Park.

The survey also said Millennials and young Gen X travelers prefer traditional hotel properties to vacation rentals, prefer well-known attractions to less-known ones, and have a strong interest in both active and laid-back travel experiences. They’re also more likely to pursue budget travel options over luxury accommodations and lean toward carefully planned trips instead of spontaneous ones.

They’re also very social in their travel activities, preferring to travel with companions instead of alone.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow him on Twitter @RickVelotta.