By Emma Springham, head of marketing and channels at Royal Mail MarketReach

In the UK, nearly one in four young adults aged 20-34 live at home with their parents. That is more than at any time in the last 20 years according to the Office for National Statistics. Although not immediately apparent, this audience is proving valuable for marketers in the travel industry and is helping some companies stand out in a crowded market.

According to the ONS, in its ‘Young people’s well-being and personal finance’ report released in May this year, those living with their parents are among the least likely to say their financial situation is difficult or very difficult. In fact, 72% of those living at home say they are financially comfortable.

So while many young adults who are benefiting from the ‘bank of mum and dad’ are saving for their first home, a large proportion is also taking advantage of their relative freedom to explore the world, whether that is an extended summer holiday or a delayed gap year.

As a result, young people living at home can represent a significant opportunity for travel companies. This group may be the first generation of digital natives, but research has proven that direct mail is an effective way of communicating with them.

It can be a novelty for young adults living with their parents to receive something in the post personally addressed to them which is not a bank statement, leaving them more likely to open, read and engage.

Our Lifestages of Mail research looks at this group of ‘fledglings’, which number around three million in the UK. Findings show that 23% of this group bought or ordered something as a result of receiving direct mail in the last 12 months. What’s more, they are 32% more likely to trust information in print than on the internet.

Although they might spend less time interacting with mail – as they tend to receive less – they are more likely to engage with printed marketing material that is engaging, memorable, relevant and allows them to respond using their favoured digital channels.

If travel companies offer a clear call-to-action to guide the recipient through what they need to do next and integrate with their digital channels, they can encourage the reader to share the mailing with their friends, through social media as well as physically.

Mail should complement a multi-channel campaign because it makes other forms of marketing work much harder.

Monarch Airlines is a good example of a travel company standing out in the competitive ski-holiday market and attracting new audiences by making innovative use of direct mail.

Its mail campaign was not aimed solely at fledglings, but it discovered that its routes appealed to independent, adventurous skiers who loved researching destinations. The audience was sent a mail pack which used a ‘Maltese cross’ format that unfolded to reveal a mountain range, with information on fresh ski routes and resorts served by Monarch.

Readers could hold a smartphone over the mailing to access extra content on their mobile. Augmented Reality transported them to the resorts, whetting their appetites for the coming ski season. Most importantly, readers could click through to see prices on the Monarch website.

Monarch was the first UK airline to combine mail with augmented reality, 22% of mail recipients visited its website and trialled the AR experience as a result. The campaign achieved more than 7,000 bookings and generated £2.2m in revenue.

Fledglings are appreciative of print’s inherent creative qualities. Some 38% of fledglings say they are more likely to interact with mail that is printed on high-quality materials. This can be especially relevant for travel companies to showcase their offers and destinations. But in any case, creating communications that are relevant, engaging and clear are paramount to succeeding with direct mail.

We know, because they have told us through our research programme, that young people who have grown up with digital can find the tangible, multisensory experience of engaging with a physical mailing fascinating and engaging. They experience mail in much the same way as other physical formats, like vinyl, which are enjoying a revival.

Furthermore, due to the relative rarity with which they receive mail, young people can be emotionally attached to receiving something through the letter box. The travel brands which capitalise on this opportunity will be the ones winning a unique moment of attention with these young digital natives.