Opinion July 15, 2016 | 10:01 am

Millennials turning away from cruises and casinos

Although the definition is quite loose, the expressionmillennial is usually used to mean those who were born between 1980 and themid-2000s.

In many parts of the western hemisphere this group nowproportionately make up the largest generation, accounting for instance in theUS for around one third of the country’s spending power, far exceeding theother much sought after visitor category, the now aging baby boomers.

For the Caribbean, millennials are a crucial must-reachtourist segment if the industry is to have a sustainable economic future. As aconsequence, many tourist board and properties have been adapting theirmarketing to reflect more closely the life style and aspirations of thisvaluable group.

Typically, millennials are proportionately better educatedthan previous generations, have grown up with the internet, are value for moneyconscious, and when it comes to vacations, are higher spending and mostimportantly, are seeking the authentic and genuine.

While destinations, hotels and attractions are beginning toadapt to provide what this market segment is seeking, it is a development thatis giving sleepless nights to two separate but sometimes linked parts of theindustry, which up to now have been taken as a given: cruising andcasinos.

According to the gambling and casino industry trade press,millennials do not gamble much, do not visit casinos, despite what the glossyindustry adverts purport to show, and more generally are looking for adifferent kind of experience.

What such publications make clear is that hotels in theCaribbean and elsewhere that make casinos a central part of the tourismproduct, or regard them as a key revenue source, will have to review what theyare offering and try to determine how they might in future better relate to thechanged enthusiasms of the higher spending millennial part of the touristspectrum.

Industry studies suggest is that what millennials arelooking for is a fuller experience than a casino can offer and immersion of thekind available in video games, according to an article in the onlinepublication the Motley Fool, by Jeff Hwang, an investor in gaming, and gamesinventor, who described in detail why millennials don’t gamble.

Mr Hwang made a number of interesting points. Millennials,he wrote, find the current slot machine product uninteresting; they want to beengaged and empowered; they require a degree of control over outcomes; theyprefer night clubs to casino gambling; and are more interested in onlinegaming, poker and daily fantasy sports. He also says that millennials areseeking skill-based games, want experiences, need to be social, and demandfairness.

In response, the gaming industry has been trying to luremillennials to gamble through online gambling and games. However, they have failedto match this when it comes to the ways casinos present themselves or thefinancial return those using them receive there. Statistics from the US gamingindustry confirm this and note that there has been a consistent decline ingambling by millennials. One indication is Las Vegas where in the 1990s 58%resort revenues came from gambling, but by 2015 this figure had fallen toaround 37%, with visitors now regarding the city as being as much anopportunity for nightlife, shopping and entertainment.

For millennials, surveys show that the issue of notvisiting casinos is social. They describe in surveys the facilities as beingunattractive, empty, and devoid of genuine social interaction.

All of which will come as no surprise to anyone who hasever stayed in a Caribbean resort with a large casino in which, even at five inthe morning, individuals are giving their money away in a darkened neon litfacility, unrelated to the sun rise or the natural beauty or sociability of thereal Caribbean existing just hundreds of metres away.

The cruise industry has also recognised that it faces asimilar problem when it comes to millennials.

Despite the appearance of having a much older demographic,the average age of travellers vacationing on cruise ships in 2014 in fact was49, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. Despite this allof the cruise lines recognise they are facing a generational challenge. Likethe gaming industry they worry how to change their image and the product sothat in their case seaborne vacations have a broader appeal, particularly tothe higher spending younger visitors that many Caribbean destinations have beensuccessful in attracting?

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