June 08 2019

How to Meet the Demand of a Generation That Travels More

Hotels and resorts know they need to win over millennials’ hearts and minds. But where to begin? That is the question. In this blog, we will help you better understand the unique needs, expectations, and attitudes that millennials hold. We will provide actionable insights and strategies that will enable you to effectively target, attract, and convert millennials into loyal and profitable guests.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 83.1 million millennials living in the U.S. today. With $200 billion in annual buying power, hotel operators can’t afford to ignore this large and diverse generation. However, millennials are a unique breed, a different specimen then we’ve seen before. They seek a different type of travel experience than their parents and grandparents enjoyed. So, who are the millennials and what makes them tick?

When we talk about millennial travelers, those born between 1981 and 1997, we’re talking about people who today are in their 20s or 30s.

They take on average 35 days of vacation every year. And unlike other generations that are curtailing their travel expenditures, millennials are increasing the amount they spend on travel. (So is the even younger Generation Z, which is on the rise.)

In fact, in a recent survey of millennials, 33 percent said they would be willing to spend over $5,000 on travel.

The millennial generation is very discriminating and particular in terms of what businesses and brands they support. They know what they like, and what they don’t like.

Here are a few examples:

Technology

Millennials are, first and foremost, members of the Smartphone generation.

They were raised on the internet and social media. Their perception of your hotel or resort will initially be defined by their digital experience. Millennials value convenience, speed, and efficiency. They are the instant gratification generation.

Consider these data points:

  • 73 percent saying they check the company’s social media feed before booking
  • 75 percent of millennials have booked travel via a mobile phone
  • 87 percent of millennials use between two and three tech devices on a daily basis
  • 46 percent use their smartphone or tablet to make travel reservations
  • 97 percent post their experiences on social media

Authentic Experiences

Millennial travelers crave unique and authentic experiences that they can share, in real time, with their friends and followers via their favorite social media sites.

Whether they are visiting the local sights or enjoying a local craft beer by the hotel pool, millennial travelers are all about the experience. Those hotels that consistently provide a personalized and value-added experience will earn the trust and loyalty of this important customer segment.

Price

Given that millennials tend to hold off getting married and starting a family, they possess more discretionary income compared with other customer segments. And even better, millennials like to use that extra income on travel.

But because they began their professional careers in the aftermath of a financial crisis, millennials also tend to be budget-conscious travelers; while authenticity is important, price is also a factor.

In a survey by Expedia Group, more than 90 percent of millennials indicated that, when it comes to hotel bookings, they won’t make a purchase until they have done extensive research and secured the very best price.

Millennials are not opposed to spending a good amount of money while traveling. It’s just that they would prefer to spend their discretionary income on experiences that they value instead of accumulating ordinary souvenirs from their travels.

Causes

Millennials take pride in being environmentally conscious travelers. Sustainability is one of their core values.

Millennials tend to seek out hotels that incorporate green practices and policies.

According to the Booking.com travel report, a solid majority of international travelers (55 percent) reported that they seek out travel options that promote sustainability and 73 percent indicated their intention to patronize an eco-friendly hotel in 2019.

Targeting Millennials

Research by Elite Daily and Millennial Branding indicates that marketing to millennials through conventional advertising may be a waste of time and budget. In their study, only 1 percent of millennials reported being persuaded by a corporate advertisement and less than 3 percent said TV news, magazines and books were a factor in their purchase decisions. Meanwhile, 84 percent said they simply don’t trust traditional advertising at all.

On the other hand, 62 percent of millennials say they are more likely to give their business to a brand that is visible on social media. Hotels, then, can convert millennials into loyal customers by engaging them on social media with personalized information and offers.

If you’re not currently participating on social media, it’s time to make the commitment. Consider this: The younger Generation Z, as you might expect, is even more accustomed to the social media universe than are millennials.

Living in the Now

Because they are younger and less tied down, millennials have a luxury that the rest of us don’t have — spontaneity. According to one survey, 49 percent of millennials said they partake in last-minute vacations. A study by Google and Phocuswright concluded that 60 percent of U.S. travelers were open to a spur-of-the-moment trip if they found the right deal.

The takeaway: Hotels that tempt millennials with enticing last-minute deals will be rewarded.

Is your property positioned to meet the needs of the millennials? If it’s not, consider these strategies:

Strategies & Solutions

1.Cater to the mobile traveler

If you haven’t already, commit to going digital and investing in a mobile-centric environment.

2. Create enhanced guest experiences

For example, create authentic gathering places for guests to congregate, connect with each other, decompress, and plan their next move.

Cookie cutter experiences turn off millennials. They want local, authentic, and personalized  experiences. This could translate to using locally grown ingredients in your restaurant, featuring locally brewed craft beer at your bar, or adorning your hotel environs with art created by local artists.

3. Engage on social media

This is how brands build trust with millennials. It’s not enough to have a presence on social media — you need to engage with travelers by being responsive, helpful, and fun.

Millennials don’t want to receive a sales pitch on social media. Use it to build relationships and to personalize and humanize your brand.

4. Leverage technology

The millennials are coming, the millennials are coming!

If you are concerned about your ability to meet the increased demand from the (sometimes) demanding millennials, just remember that technology is your friend.

Did you know that among U.S. travelers surveyed, 44 percent told hotel.com that they would be willing to check themselves in at a hotel kiosk?

Then why not deploy self-service software to save money and simplify time-consuming processes like check-in? What’s more, consider adding check-in kiosks in the lobby and eliminating the front desk altogether. Streamlining the check-in process will endear you to millennials, who think manual check-in is unnecessary and cumbersome in the digital age, and a waste of their precious time.

Also, invest in the latest technologies. Keyless entry, mobile payments, smart TVs (with Netflix of course!), and smartphone charging ports will put you in good stead with the millennials. Without these bells and whistles, they feel lost.

5. Data is your friend

Hotels and resorts can’t offer guests personalized service if they don’t know each customer’s particular wants and needs. Here enters the importance of data.

With an insight-driven PMS system like StayNTouch, hoteliers have at their fingertips everything they need to add value and fulfill each customer’s expectations, including a guest profile, booking history and social media accounts. If given the right technology, any member of your staff will be empowered to proactively craft a data-driven, unique experience for every guest.

6. Offer cool perks

Add value and convenience by surprising your guests with Uber credits at check-in. That way, they can get a start seeing the sights without delay. Millennials are notoriously impatient and this small gesture will create more goodwill for your property than you know.

Powerful WiFi, these days, is a non-negotiable. And free breakfast — Hello Instagram — doesn’t hurt.

Consider the market size of the millennial generation, its enormous purchasing power, and its penchant for planned and spontaneous travel. Hotels and resorts that aren’t properly positioned to serve this customer segment are depriving themselves of a big revenue stream.

The most effective way to target millennials is to build an authentic brand in the social space. Show them that you share their values. Earn their trust.

By providing an authentic experience that is digital, convenient, seamless, and always customized, your hotel or resort can earn the loyalty of this important customer segment.