How Millennials Are Changing Travel

Re-posted from the Atlantic

In the summer of 2012, at age 24, I left home to travel the world. In just over a year, I backpacked through South America, South Asia, Western Europe, and the western United States. I hiked the Inca Trail, skied the Alps, hitchhiked through Patagonia, and trekked through the Himalayas. I worked at hostels, stayed at a Buddhist monastery, and gardened at an English women’s retreat center in exchange for meals and a place to sleep. And while I learned many things on the trip, what was most surprising was how many people my age were traveling just like me.

In the United States, the Boston Consulting Group reports, the millennial generation, defined as those between the ages of 16 and 34, is more interested than older generations in traveling abroad as much as possible—by a 23-percentage-point margin. The United Nations estimates that 20 percent of all international tourists, or nearly 200 million travelers, are young people, and that this demographic generates more than $180 billion in annual tourism revenue, an increase of nearly 30 percent since 2007. The UN attributes that growth both to rising incomes in emerging markets and a commitment by youth in advanced economies to “continue traveling despite economic uncertainty.” We are now thefastest-growing age segment in terms of the money we spend on travel, according to American Express Business Insights.

Not only that, but we’re redefining the very meaning of international travel, foregoing standard vacations in favor of extended, meaningful experiences. The World Youth Student and Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation, which recently surveyed more than 34,000 people from 137 countries, found that young travelers are not as interested in “the traditional sun, sea and sand holidays” as previous generations are. They are spending less time in “major gateway cities” and instead exploring more remote destinations, staying in hostels instead of hotels, and choosing long-term backpacking trips instead of two-week jaunts. The study showed an increase from 2007 in young travelers taking trips (like mine) for longer than two months, with the average trip lasting 58 days.

This kind of travel did not come naturally to me. I grew up middle class in Florida in a family where “traveling” generally meant driving two hours to the nicest nearby beach. I got a passport when I was 16 so I could visit my extended family in Ecuador, and by the time I entered college, that family reunion was still the only time I had ever been overseas. Until I discovered the backpacking scene, I always considered travel to be something reserved for the wealthy, or at least for people with far more experience abroad than I had. 

But with easy access to social media and budget-travel tools like Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Skyscanner, and Lonely Planet message boards, I soon realized that long-term travel wasn’t nearly as expensive or difficult as I had imagined. I funded my 15-month trip on a little more than $16,000 (that’s luxurious: many backpackers I met spent half as much in the same amount of time). I saved more than half the money from a part-time job in high school, and the rest came from two years of work after college. And while there’s little data on the economic backgrounds of backpackers, the people I met during my trip—waiters, teachers, seasonal workers, flight attendants, carpenters—gave me the sense that people of diverse means had done the same.

In the case of American millennials, many of us also feel like there’s little reason to wait until our golden years to see the world. Our generation has arguably been hit hardest by the recession, and grown skeptical of the best-laid retirement plans. According to the Center for Retirement Research, less than a third of private-sector workers in the U.S. had defined-benefit coverage for retirement in 2010, down from 44 percent in 1995 and 88 percent in 1983. Since 1985, the number of companies offering pensions has fallen from 112,000 to 23,000. The Pew Research Center has reported that only 6 percent of millennials expect to receive the kinds of Social Security benefits that today’s retirees enjoy. Half don’t believe there will be money remaining in the Social Security system by the time they retire, and an additional 39 percent think these benefits will be significantly reduced. Under these circumstances, it makes sense that we’d travel now, instead of saving travel for a future that is in no way guaranteed. 

Faced with a lack of reliable, long-term employment options, a number of millennials are also using travel to take a break from job-searching and reevaluate what to do next. In 2013, at every education level, millennials aged 25 to 32 confronted a higher unemployment rate than those facing older generations, and an overall unemployment rate of more than 8 percent. Both of my traveling partners, Kevin Parine and Chelin Lauer, considered going abroad after finding limited job opportunities in their area of study. Parine graduated with a degree in geology but decided to travel after struggling to find work in his field. Lauer graduated with a degree in biology and ended up moving to South Korea to work as a science and English teacher, and then travel whenever she had the chance.

“Teaching English in Korea was the highest-paying job I could find after graduating,” Lauer, 26, says. “But the flipside to a bad job market is that it gave me a chance to explore something I probably would have never done otherwise.”

But even those lucky enough to find jobs may be tempted to travel by their dissatisfaction with the way the United States approaches work. While corporate profits have increased by 20 percent in the past two decades and productivity has surged, income has stagnated, suggesting people are working more and getting paid less. Forty percent of professional men and 15 percent of professional women work more than 50 hours per week, and the United States is one of only nine countries around the world that doesn’t require employers to offer paid annual leave. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that only 30 percent of American employees feel engaged at work, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. A Harris survey found that 73 percent of older workers said they never landed in the job they dreamed of when they were younger.  

“We’re looking at the corporate world as it is now, and this yester-year of people spending all their life working at a job they often hated, retiring, and that’s it, and we’re disillusioned with that,” says Jessie Goldstein, 26, who recently completed a five-month road trip across the United States. After finishing a master’s degree in sustainable development and getting admitted into Ph.D. programs, she decided to take the trip to figure out whether more graduate school was the right choice for her. “If I’m going to continue putting that much of my life into something, and that much effort, it better be something I’m really passionate about,” she explains.

Studies indicate that millennials advocate strongly for work-life balance, and have few qualms about leaving jobs that don’t meet their expectations. A 2012 Net Impact survey found that young workers are more concerned with finding happiness and fulfillment at the office than workers of past generations. The study found that 88 percent saw a “positive culture” as essential to their dream job, and that 86 percent felt the same way about work they found “interesting.” Fifty-eight percent said they would stomach a 15-percent pay cut to work for an organization “with values like my own.”

Travel creates time to reflect on these priorities and decide how our career choices can accommodate them. We understand that bumming around in our twenties for too long is irresponsible, but we also find it irrational to work unfulfilling jobs only to feel legitimate. And if we have the financial resources to pause, travel, and reassess, then why not take advantage of that privilege?

But while long-term travel and gap years have been popular for years in countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, the idea is still relatively new in the United States—and not yet widely accepted.

“If you were to ask older people. ‘Is this a good idea, should I go do this?’ the answer perceived is ‘no,’” says Randall Bourquin, 25, who spent six months last year backpacking through South and Central America. “People think that there’s too much opportunity cost, or that it’s going to cause a speed bump in your career.”

Yet according to the WYSE Travel Confederation’s report, many young travelers use their extended trips not only for leisure, but also as a form of job training: 22 percent of respondents wanted to learn a language during their travels, 15 percent wanted to gain more work experience, and 15 percent wanted to study—all increases since 2007.

These skills can translate into a competitive advantage in the workplace. Elizabeth Harper, 25, discovered her career interests while backpacking in Southeast Asia. Traveling gave her time to read for pleasure, and she ended up leafing through books passed around in hostels about atrocities that had occurred in the countries she was visiting. She eventually graduated with a master’s degree in international human-rights law and has since worked on human-rights issues for the United Nations and the International Commission of Jurists. Bourquin leveraged his trip into a sports-marketing job at Univision. My travels helped me obtain a summer job with Global Glimpse, an organization that takes disadvantaged students on educational trips through Nicaragua.

As a daughter of immigrants, the American Dream has played an ever-present role in my career decisions. After seeing how few options my mother had as a woman who spent a large part of her childhood in poverty, I wanted to do everything she never had the opportunity to accomplish. Growing up, that meant graduating from a prestigious university and getting a respectable job. But gradually I realized my standard definition of the American Dream was incomplete: It was not only about obtaining education and a good job, but also about focusing on how my career choices contributed to my overall well-being. It was about gaining experiences outside my career, like travel, that would have otherwise been unavailable to me.

For me and many others millennials, this was the opportunity we worked hard to achieve: the opportunity to have options —to have time to reflect, and to experience the world in a way many generations before us never could.

To read the original article, please follow the link below:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/06/how-millennials-are-changing-international-travel/373007/2/

 

Is Anyone Actually Reading Your Tweets? Now You Can Find Out.

Re-posted from Slate

You worked so hard on that clever tweet. Did anyone actually read it?

Until now you could only guess based on the number of favorites or retweets it received. That changed on Wednesday, when Twitter announced that it’s opening a feature to all users that allows you to see exactly how many people viewed and engaged with each of your tweets, along with a demographic breakdown of your followers and several other analytic tools.

You can find your own analytics dashboard by clicking here.

The default tab lists your tweets in reverse-chronological order and shows you the number of impressions and engagements. In case you’re not familiar with the lingo, “impressions” means the total number of people who saw your tweet in their feeds. “Engagements,” in this case, refers to the total number of times people clicked on your tweet. That includes clicks on your username, clicks to expand the tweet, and clicks on any attached links, in addition to retweets, favorites, and follows. You can also track your impressions and engagements over time.

The dashboard also includes a second tab called “followers” that shows you the trajectory of your follower count, as well as the gender, interests, and geographic breakdown of your followers.

So what can you learn from your personal analytics tools? I learned, rather unsurprisingly, that mine tend to be men living in coastal U.S. cities who are interested in politics, business, and technology, and who also follow The New Yorker, Wired, and the Economist. I learned that “sports” is nowhere among my followers’ top interests, which might help explain why a bunch of people unfollow me every time I tweet about them. And I learned, as Alex Howard has also pointed out, that tweets with photos attached tend to do better than text-only tweets. This one, for instance, got about 100 times more impressions than my average tweet:

This is the sort of data that Twitter and other social networks have historically made available only to their advertising clients. Twitter is among the first to extend its analytics tools to the general public. This feature has been a while in coming: I first reported that Twitter was experimenting with it back in June 2013.

For most people, this probably isn’t particularly actionable information. Still, it’s a nice gesture at a time when Facebook continues to take a PR beating for theunfathomable opacity of its news feed algorithms. And it might help to reassure you that there actually are a few people out there reading, even when it feels like you’re tweeting into the void. It could also give you a better idea of what types of tweets resonate with your followers and which ones fall flat. Then you can stop boring the hell out of everyone with stray thoughts that are probably amusingonly to you.

Or keep doing them! After all, Twitter isn’t a contest, and just because you now have the same tools that are available to advertisers doesn’t mean you have to act like one.

To read the original article, follow the link below:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/08/27/twitter_analytics_dashboard_how_to_find_out_if_people_are_reading_your_tweets.html

Majority Of Digital Media Consumption Now Takes Place In Mobile Apps

Re-posted from TechCrunch

U.S. users are now spending the majority of their time consuming digital media within mobile applications, according to a new study released by comScore this morning. That means mobile apps, including the number 1 most popular app Facebook, eat up more of our time than desktop usage or mobile web surfing, accounting for 52% of the time spent using digital media. Combined with mobile web, mobile usage as a whole accounts for 60% of time spent, while desktop-based digital media consumption makes up the remaining 40%.

Apps today are driving the majority of media consumption activity, the report claims, now accounting for 7 our of every 8 minutes of media consumption on mobile devices. On smartphones, app activity is even higher, at 88% usage versus 82% on tablets.

App Users

The report also details several interesting figures related to how U.S. app users are interacting with these mobile applications, noting that over one-third today download at least one application per month. The average smartphone user downloads 3 apps per month.

However, something which may not have been well understood before is that much of that download activity is concentrated within a small segment of the smartphone population: the top 7% of smartphone owners accounting for nearly half of all the download activity in a given month. Those are some serious power users, apparently.

But no matter how often consumers are actively downloading apps, they certainly are addicted to them. More than half (57%) use apps every single day, while 26% of tablet owners do. And 79% of smartphone owners use apps nearly every day, saying they use them at least 26 days per month, versus 52% for tablet users.

Facebook Still #1

Here’s another notable tidbit: 42% of all app time on smartphones takes place in that individual’s single most used app. 3 out of 4 minutes is spent in the individual’s top 4 apps. The top brands, which account for 9 out of the top 10 most used apps, include Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay.

Facebook is the most used app, in both audience size and share of time spent among each demographic segment.

Social Networking, Games and Radio contribute to nearly half the total time spent on apps, indicating mobile usage is heavily centered around entertainment and communication.

On iPhone, users prefer spending time consuming media, with news apps, radio, photos, social networking, and weather as the highest-ranking categories, while Android users spent more time in search (Google) and email (Gmail).

Android Vs. iPhone

ComScore’s report also heats up the ol’ Android versus iPhone war, pointing out again that iPhone users have 40% higher median incomes, and engage with more applications. (9 more hours per month).

More details are in the full report here.

To read the original story, follow the link below:

http://techcrunch.com/2014/08/21/majority-of-digital-media-consumption-now-takes-place-in-mobile-apps/

Ever Wonder Why Consumers Don’t Click on Mobile Ads?

Re-posted from eMarketer

Mobile users see a decent amount of ads: March 2014 polling by Nielsen for xAd and Telmetrics found that 70% of US adults who used smartphones, tablets or both had encountered mobile ads in the past month. Of course, getting an ad in front of a target doesn’t guarantee interaction, and the majority of mobile device users hadn’t clicked on an advertisement in the month leading up to polling. Smartphone owners were slightly more likely to click on a mobile ad, with 43% saying they had, compared with 37% of those with tablets. 

March 2014 research by Survey Sampling International (SSI) for Adobe found that the platform used to serve mobile ads also made a difference in interaction. While apps claim far more time spent with mobile, mobile device users in North America were more likely to click on mobile website ads. More than one-third had done so in the past three months, compared with 26% who had interacted with an in-app mobile ad. Mobile devices used by respondents in this study included ereaders, mobile phones, smartphones, tablets and wearable devices. 

But what about ads that don’t get clicked on? How can advertisers tweak them to drive more interaction? According to xAd and Telmetrics, the most popular reason smartphone and tablet users hadn’t clicked on mobile ads in the past month was because they just weren’t interested in the offering, cited by 47% and 43%, respectively—and suggesting advertisers may need to amp up targeting efforts. Irrelevant advertisements and users simply ignoring them ranked second and third.

To read the original post, follow the link below:

http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Ever-Wonder-Why-Consumers-Dont-Click-on-Mobile-Ads/1011110/1

The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag

Re-posted from Mashable

If you’re a social media novice, hashtags — those short links preceded by the pound sign (#) — may seem confusing and unnecessary. But they are integral to the way we communicate online, and it’s important to know how to use them (even though some people, like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, are not the biggest fans). Plus, they can be a lot of fun.

On Twitter, the pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords. So, if you wanted to post about the Breaking Bad finale, you would include#BreakingBad in your tweet to join the conversation. Click on a hashtag to see all the posts that mention the subject in real time.

The hashtag’s widespread use began with Twitter but has extended to other social media platforms. In 2007, developer Chris Messina proposed, in a tweet, that Twitter begin grouping topics using the hash symbol. Twitter initially rejected the idea. But in October 2007, citizen journalists began using the hashtag #SanDiegoFire, at Messina’s suggestion, to tweet updates on a series of forest fires in San Diego. The practice of hashtagging took off; now users and brands employ hashtags to cover serious political events (#Cairo) and entertainment topics (#MileyCyrus) alike.

With our beginner’s guide, you’ll be hashtagging like a pro in no time.

To read the original post, follow the link below:

http://mashable.com/2013/10/08/what-is-hashtag/

Avoid the Trash Can: When to Send Emails

Re-posted from eMarketer

Saturdays boast highest open rates, average order sizes 

Email open rates improved again this year, thanks to consumers’ ever-growing use of mobile devices to manage their inboxes. Yet key benchmarks such as click rate and transaction rate continue to decline. As it gets harder to cut through the inbox clutter, email marketers increasingly seek new ways to upgrade the relevancy of their communications, according to a new eMarketer report, “Email Benchmarks 2014: Richer Data, Mobile Optimization Crucial for Greater Relevancy.” –

The majority of marketers opt to send emails during the week, but marketers switching their send day to Saturday could see higher open rates and average order sizes. Thursdays saw the highest volume of US email sends in January 2014, according to marketing analytics and competitive intelligence firm TrackMaven. Tuesdays and Wednesdays were equally busy, while both Saturday and Sunday saw the lightest volume.

But Q4 2013 data from Experian Marketing Services suggests that perhaps when faced with fewer emails, consumers may be more likely to engage and shop. The marketing services firm found Saturday had the highest open rates and average order sizes compared with all other days. Sunday had the highest click rate and revenue per email averages, but the lowest order amount.

Time of day definitely plays a role in affecting key email marketing measures, but there is no one silver-bullet time for improving benchmarks across the board. In fact, findings suggest that oftentimes, key measures such as unique open rate and average order size are at odds.

Analysis of emails sent during Q4 2013 by Experian Marketing Services showed emails sent during the nighttime hours of 8pm to 12am saw the highest unique open rates, click rates, transaction rates and revenue per email. However, buyers interacting with email sent during this window were less likely to spend: The average order size was $162, vs. $180-plus for emails sent between the hours of 8am and 8pm. Interestingly, emails sent during that 12-hour block saw lower unique open rates, unique click rates and transaction rates, suggesting marketers might have to consider a tradeoff between these measures and average order size. 

To read the original post follow the link below:

http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Avoid-Trash-Can-Send-Emails/1011081/1