A recent article by the Motley Fool analyzes why “the ‘big three’ cruise lines,” Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, saw increases of over 25% in their stock prices in the first half of 2017. The article suggests current trends in the hospitality and travel industry, such as “lower fuel prices, higher consumer spending in developed countries, and burgeoning travel demand among Asian tourists" as possible factors. However, the article also explores another trend in consumer purchasing patterns: “a penchant among millennials to spend their earnings on experiences instead of material products.”
Forbes explains how “more than three in four millennials (78%) would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something desirable." According to millennial research from Forbes author Blake Morgan, “sixty-nine percent of respondents said they believe attending live experiences helps them connect better with their friends, their community and people around the world.” Airbnb’s 2016 highlights reflect this trend in consumerism by sharing that “roughly 60 percent of all guests who have ever booked on Airbnb” have been millennials, also noting that “the number of Millennials who have booked on Airbnb has grown more than 120 percent in the past year.” In addition, “eighty-three percent of Airbnb users in China who have made at least one booking are Millennials, the highest proportion of any country.” The company targets college students and recent graduates by offering house sharing listings as a more affordable and convenient alternative to staying in hotels or resorts.
Others may hold the perspective that the millennial generation’s propensity to spend money on experiences is simply a new form of materialism that can be boasted on social media. Because of this, detractors think of the experience trend as a fiscally irresponsible practice instead of a more valuable form of consumerism. Another Forbes article argues that people traveling in their early twenties is “a distraction from the more pressing, albeit less fun, necessities of living a well-rounded life such as learning a trade, gaining key life skills, and developing an acceptance of delayed gratification.” The feature claims that “as a result, millennials are building less equity in not only financial investment but also social capital.”
However, an excellent way to learn life skills while exploring the world is participating in a university study abroad program or internship abroad that is geared towards career studies and goals. The New York Times explains how a study abroad should be an “integrated part of the curriculum, incorporating proper cross-cultural preparation and supportive reintegration to help students understand and internalize what they learn.” As workplaces become more diverse, and more careers become globalized, it is crucial for young people to develop the “international experience, language capabilities and cross-cultural communication skills necessary to succeed in the global economy.”
According to Eventbrite, another company that is built on the business model of selling experiences, millennials “currently command an estimated $1.3 trillion in annual consumer spending.” Because of this, it is likely that the trend of experience consumption will continue to grow in the future, as "more than 72% [of millennials] say they’d like to increase their spending on experiences rather than physical things in the next year.”