Millennials are shaping the hospitality industry (not to mention the world!)
It’s the millennial revolution, and it’s all about guest experience, technological conveniences, and social media.
Millennials are unlike traditional travelers. They don’t travel; they explore. They crave new, unexpected, meaningful experiences. Still, why should the hospitality industry cater to them?
- Because one-third of all travelers are millennials.
- Because to 75 percent of millennials, travel is one of THE most important things in life.
- Because they travel often, taking an average of five trips per year.
- Because 82 percent of them took a vacation in the past year versus 75 percent of all consumers.
- Because their travel spending rose 20 percent in 2010, making them the fastest growing travel segment.
- Because they’re posed to spend $1.4 trillion a year in travel by 2020.
- Because they make up more than 25 percent of the nation’s population—that’s 80.7 million people.
- Because their purchasing power is now surpassing that of baby boomers and Gen X’ers.
In a nutshell: because it’s a lucrative market that hotel brands can’t afford to ignore.
Millennial Travel Takeover
Millennials are taking over travel, and smart hotel brands are quickly adapting their marketing, customer experience, technology and design strategies to cater to this new generation of novelty-seeking, unconventional travelers.
Baby boomers wanted consistency, safety, comfort and familiarity. Global hotel brands that built their reputations on providing the same, predictable, cookie-cutter experience at each of their locations are having to fundamentally change the way they do business. Established brands such as Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt have undertaken millennial-driven transformations designed to meet the expectations of adventurous, tech savvy, selfie-loving guests.
So what do millennials want?
- Unique, authentic, meaningful, memorable experiences
- Adventure and discovery versus comfort and familiarity
- To experience the local culture
- To gather stories of their travels as souvenirs.
- Hotels with open, social spaces
- Lots of electrical outlets to charge their gizmos
- Hi-tech from booking to check out
- Affordability and personalized promotions
- Social connectivity, online presence
Some hotel chains are creating separate millennial-focused brands. Marriott’s Moxy Hotels feature living room-like areas where young travelers can hang out and plug in. Radisson created Radisson Red for app-loving millennials.
Give Them What They Want
To thrive and prosper in this market, hotels must refocus their efforts to give these whimsical explorers exactly what they want. Here are four key strategies hotels should employ to attract millennials:
1. Make It About Experience, Not Just Functionality
To appeal to millennials, hotels need to provide novel, unique and authentic experiences through design elements such as inspiring ambiance and decor, open and green spaces, as well as local flavor, smart technology and services that offer instant gratification.
2. Make It Local
Millennials want to dive into the local culture. Localization through sense of place, artwork, decor, colors, materials, music, cuisine (e.g., farm-to-table, local wines) and amenities is essential for hoteliers to provide a stay that reflects the location of their hotels.
3. Make It Friendly and Social
Millennials are more interested in hanging out in public spaces than in their own hotel rooms. These spaces provide opportunities for mingling and entertainment during their stay. Millennials like to watch TV, eat, or work in social spaces, so design elements such as comfortable seating, work tables and plenty of power plugs are a must.
4. Make It Tech
If you do nothing else, you must make it tech. Millennials would rather go a day hungry than go a day (an hour!) without their smartphones. Hotels that have apps allowing guests to access services and complete tasks have a clear advantage over those that don’t. Below is a list of technology most millennials want and/or expect when traveling.
- Online booking, ratings and reviews
- Automated check-in and check-out
- Free, hotel-wide, high-speed Wi-Fi
- Keyless rooms or smart keys
- Lots of electrical outlets
- Smart TVs, on-demand video
- Hotel services by app or text
- Internet of Things
The hospitality industry won’t be resting anytime soon. Hotels will have to evolve more rapidly than ever to keep up with the rising expectations of this new breed of traveler as well as with the emerging technologies they simply must have.
Here’s the good news: By adapting to millennials (a.k.a. Gen Y), you’re already preparing for Generation Z or digital natives—the most tech-connected generation in history. Adapting to millennials is therefore a long-term investment.
To learn how technology is transforming the hospitality industry and how to use it to reinforce your brand and improve the coveted guest experience, download our free e-book: