Why should the hospitality industry care about pleasing Millennials? Well, they are no longer teeny boppers of the late 90’s and early 2000’s just along for the family vacation. They are now the ones in charge of choosing which hotels they want to call home while they travel. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials make up more than one-quarter of the nation’s population (over 80 million people), making this generation the largest and most researched group in history. This group is quickly surpassing their Baby Boomer/Gen X parents in purchasing power, as they grow financially independent. AdAge writes, “Travel spending by Millennials rose 20% in 2010, making them the fastest-growing segment for travel.” With that in mind, your marketing team may be wondering the best way to appeal to these Millennial travelers.
Marketing to Millennial Travelers
Now is the time for hotel brands to fix their eyes on the future of the industry and adapt to the wants and needs of their biggest customer group. Hotels can utilize these five ways to attract Millennial travelers.
1. Millennials want an experience, not just functionality.
Focus on providing an experience for guests through themed rooms and unique decor that are more than just functional. Gone are the days when a traveler’s checklist consisted of a comfortable bed, a clean bathroom and a safe location. Millennials want more. Millennials differ from their parents’ generation in spending behaviors. Older generations enjoy spending money on tangible objects while Millennials will spend more on experiences like vacations and travel. This is important for hotels to understand.
The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, introduced in 2016, is a great example of a new brand dedicated to providing extraordinary experiences to guests. Hyatt provides out-of-the-box vacations by teaming up with independent hotels in many different parts of the world that have unique character uncommon to a typical hotel stay. With the slogan “The Freedom to be Extraordinary,” Hyatt’s newest brand can be found in only 3 locations around the world, with additional locations in development. The current locations include: The Driskill in Austin, Texas, Hotel du Louvre in Paris, France, and Carmelo Resort & Spa in Uruguay. Limited locations in and of itself give Millennials the feeling of rarity and a vacation like no other.
Hotels are faced with the challenge of providing uncommon experiences that will draw the attention of Millennials, but if this point is mastered, loyalty will be built for future travel plans.
2. Millennials love open public spaces to meet new people and gather with friends.
Although it seems paradoxical, Millennial travelers are not so interested in staying in their own personal rooms, but rather congregating in open public spaces. Lobbies where guests find entertainment or lounge areas with televisions showing the big games invite guests to be social with other travelers and give them a space to form connections.
Community work tables in lobbies also allow for this social generation to “work and play” at the same time. These work tables include easy to access plug-ins for phone, tablet, and laptop charging convenience. Just as they are sure not to leave home without a toothbrush, Millennials are sure to bring their chargers wherever they go, including lobbies.
The lobby is the first thing any guest sees when walking through the front doors of a hotel. Make sure your hotel’s lobby is open and encourages entertainment and mingling.
3. Local dining and drinking options are a must.
One way to a Millennial’s heart is through their stomach! Farm-to-table ingredients, menu items catered to the hotel’s location, local craft beers, and late night lobby snack markets all feed this generation of travelers in more ways than one.
These young travelers welcome late night food options that they can grab on the way up to their room or late night room service delivered to their door. Things like 24-hour markets with sodas, snacks, and other indulgences are popular with this generation as late nights out with friends lead to a desire for food.
Hotels with restaurants and bars on property that are relevant to the surrounding culture and the vibes of their location are sure to perk Millennials’ interest. Local food provides guests with an encompassing feeling of the surrounding culture in one meal.
Hyatt hotels believe in the power of incorporating local ingredients and the surrounding culture so strongly that all chefs in their brands’ hotel restaurants are required to incorporate at least five local ingredients into their menu. “Local” is defined as within 50 miles of the hotel location. This gives restaurants the ability to advertise as a farm-to-fork diner which is a big hit for many guests, but will be especially attractive to Millennials.
4. Technology is no longer an option, but a necessity.
Technology is nothing new to Millennials. They have grown up with smartphones in their hands and have benefited from continuously innovative apps that make life’s tasks a little bit easier (or at least more enjoyable). Hotels need to stay up with the times and technology to please this generation.
Gain a competitive advantage over competing hotels by allowing this group to use their right-hand man, the smartphone, to complete tasks.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts are leading the way in technological innovation in the hospitality industry. In 2014, all Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG) were introduced to SPG Keyless, an amenity that allows SPGs to download an app to their iPhone or Android and use the app as a key for their room by holding up the open app up to their door. Keeping up with ever-evolving technology, Starwood added onto this app by extending it to the Apple Watch.
Starwood’s Aloft hotel in Cupertino, California recently introduced Botlr, a robotic butler. Botlr delivers towels directly to you poolside, little snacks or bathroom toiletries to your hotel room door.
The most recent addition to Aloft’s tech-savvy amenities is the Text it. Get it. (TiGi) Emoji Room Service. Sending a simple emoji completes your order. This service is the world’s very first emoji-only room service menu where guests can text a designated number with certain emojis for pre-made packages that will be delivered straight to your door. Talk about finding innovative ways to attract Millennial travelers!
The package names include: The Sightseer, The Refresh, The Hangover, The Munchies, Phone Charger, and Surprise Me. The packages are made up of a variety of items like Advil for last night’s hangover, a phone charger for forgotten necessities, a $10 Metro Card, or some snacks. This new and exciting amenity is currently available at Aloft Manhattan Downtown Financial District and will be introduced to more Aloft Hotels in Europe and Asia.
These types of innovative technological amenities speak to Millennials in their own language.
5. Millennials want more bang for their buck.
This group of travelers wants all of these amenities for a reasonable price. As a price-sensitive group, Millennials are looking for better value for an acceptable price.
Millennials are looking for a traveling experience that is unique and affordable. Gaining brand loyalty with this budding group early on will be beneficial to your hotel brand for years to come.
In addition to these five ways to attract Millennial travelers another tip is to frequently update hotel websites with pictures, lists of technological amenities, and video experiences. Show Millennial travelers on your website how your hotel meets their wants and needs. And last tip, make sure your hotel website is mobile friendly. Smartphones are a way of life for Millennials!
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Payton Frappier – Content Creator
Created in partnership with Furman University.