Alumni Associations Can Engage Millennial Travelers

Michelle Ammirati by on May 16, 2016


The travel market, according to a recent Business Insider article, is about to change in an unexpected way. After polling 1,000 Millennial consumers each in eight different countries, Expedia in partnership with Future Foundation found that Millennials do not like to travel alone, with 43% of respondents agreeing that “the thought of going on holiday alone intimidates me.” Respondents specified that social media contacts influence the choice of their holiday destinations in addition to indicating that they will give away personal information (e.g., register with a travel agency) for travel advice. Armed with this kind of data, alumni associations have a unique opportunity to engage young alumni with existing alumni-based travel programs.

A number of institutions of higher education offer alumni-based travel programs. Harvard’s Alumni Association, for instance, offers study-leader-led trips around the globe, including a trip to Classic Greece for Students & Alumni. On this trip alumni visit the Acropolis of Mycenae, see an active archaeological dig site, explore Olympia and participate in a number of other activities over 10 days. The association offers links to register along with a thoroughly planned itinerary and price points. For Millennials looking to travel, this out-of-the-box trip with a set price tag could be the answer to not traveling alone if friends’ schedules do not align.

harvard_example_trip.pngHarvard Example Trip

Boston University’s alumni-association-sponsored trip to Holland and Belgium is another example of preplanned trips with a fixed price point. On this trip alumni visit Amsterdam, bike through Waterland, learn about Delft porcelain, and participate in a number of other activities over eight days. The association links to a separate trip website where alumni can make reservations. The institution offers travel advice through an online brochure promoting this trip. The brochure includes a message from the vice president of Alumni Relations mentioning “the security, ease and value of group travel with opportunities for independent exploration.”

boston_university_brochure_cover.pngBoston University Brochure Cover

Princeton University dedicates a section of its website to its version of alumni trips—Princeton Journeys. The website currently offers a newsletter for the programs and highlights the association’s Princeton Journeys Facebook page. An upcoming Castles and Campaigns: Honfleur to Hamburg trip is another example of an alumni association trip. On this trip alumni cruise the English Channel, visit historic battle sites, see art collections and participate in a number of other activities over eight days.

dedicated_princeton_journeys_section.pngDedicated Princeton Journeys Section

Offering alumni trips alone, though, is not enough to grow and maintain engagement with millennials. Alumni associations should encourage alumni to document their progress over social media while they’re participating in these programs, which in addition to creating greater in-trip engagement will have the added benefit of peer-to-peer influence, indicated as crucial in destination choice in Expedia’s survey, as young alums’ friends see Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts from abroad. Alumni associations can further engage alumni through a number of channels, including LinkedIn Group announcements, features on official Facebook pages and reposts of traveling alums’ social media posts.

Many alumni associations are already offering travel advice alongside these study trips. There is a further opportunity to leverage this information by making it available only to those with a registered alumni association account. As Expedia found, Millennials are more likely to give away personal information to access this type of detailed information. If alumni associations can find engaging ways to interact with their young alumni and advertise their travel programs, then they might be able to create a lasting connection with their Millennial populations.

For more information on Alumni Monitor and our research on alumni outreach and engagement, please contact Dana Peterson at or visit us at

About The Author

Michelle Ammirati

Michelle is an Analyst for Healthcare Monitor at Corporate Insight. Read more