Millennials today have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest demographic on earth, making them one of the hospitality industry’s most important and valuable segments. That being said, there are a few distinct differences between the millennial-aged population, ranging in ages 22 to 37, compared to their slightly older predecessors.
One of the most distinct differences between Millennials and Baby Boomers is that Millennials enjoy spending money on experiences as opposed to products or things. More importantly for the hotel sector, they love to travel. However, unlike previous generations, a large portion of millennials prefer traveling alone, reportedly up to 37%. When we also take into consideration “digital nomads” – guests who work while traveling – the need to appeal to the Millennial, solo guest persona becomes even more evident.
According to a recently published report, one of the first things hoteliers need to invest in when aiming to attract more millennial guests is a strong online and social media presence. In fact, 73% of Millennials said that they check the company’s social media feed before booking their stay, and 33% of Millennials would put off booking a hotel altogether if it didn’t have a social media presence.
In addition to an active social media presence, modern technology perks also rank high as a deciding factor. According to the survey, 70% of respondents said they would be more likely to book a hotel if it featured additional tech amenities such as keyless hotel entry, mobile payments, Smart TVs and smartphone charging access. More than half (57%) would return to a hotel if it had powerful WiFi.
Once a hotel brand clearly understands the impact that Millennials have on their business, there are a few things that can be done in order to make it more attractive for this tech-centric demographic.
HOTEL TECH PERKS AND TRENDS
At the Radisson RED guests can order grab-and-go food (such as a Belgian waffle with mac and cheese, and fried chicken) from on-site restaurant OUIBar + KTCHN using the RED app, then take it back to their room.
The Hyatt Centric and Hotel EMC2 also provide examples of hotel tech being put to good use. At the Hyatt Centric guests are offered the option to stream Netflix and control the lighting and thermostat using the TV remote control, while each room at the EMC2 has an Amazon Echo unit that streams music, reads the weather report, and looks up any info on the web.
INTEGRATE MOBILE KEYLESS ACCESS
Providing guests with the ability to access their rooms using their mobile phone is another tech trend gaining traction across our industry as it maintains a holistic travel experience that most Millennials are already familiar with.
Mobile keyless access enables a hotel to offer remote mobile check-in where hotel guests can activate their mobile key and head straight to their room. Mobile key solutions can also give your guests personalized access to the gym and other hotel facilities such as spas and meeting rooms. This is exactly the type of seamless experience Millennial guests expect during their travel experience.
ASPIRE TO BE INSTAGRAM-WORTHY
As we previously discussed, launching and maintaining an active Social Media presence has become an essential part of a hotel’s online marketing initiatives. When you engage visitors and guests through Social Media, you create a direct relationship channel that can lead to more profitable direct bookings. That being said, creating and maintaining an active social media presence today means more than publishing consistent content.
User-generated Content (UGC) is quickly becoming the keystone of an integrated content marketing strategy. A simple and effective example of UGC is a branded Instagram filter for your hotel. If your hotel brand isn’t using it, then you’re missing out on key opportunities to let your customers promote your products and services for you.
Millennials indicate that information they receive through UGC is highly trustworthy and trusted 40% more than information they get from traditional media sources (TV, print & radio), including newspapers and magazines.
According to research from Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, 50 percent of all travelers to the United States will be Millennials by 2025. However, this doesn’t mean that you should wait a few years to implement new and relevant hotel technology. The time to do so is now. While it may seem like investing in technology just to cater to a specific demographic of travelers, Millennial guests also come with some serious benefits. The main benefit being their desire, and ability, to share their experiences with friends and family before, during and after their visit. Whether their guest experience is a good or bad one, Millennials will express their opinions and stories to their social networks . After all, this generation knows how brand marketing works better than any other – and smart hoteliers will respond accordingly.