Alternative hotel concepts, such as citizenM, Zoku, Z Hotels, Casa Camper have been gaining in popularity in recent years. “The advent of the sharing economy has been game-changing for the hospitality industry with legions of global travellers abandoning what they consider the bland consistency of hotels for the bright “welcome home” of Airbnb,” says Padraic Gilligan, of Soolnua.
It is the Millennials who are the driving force behind the changing shaping of the hospitality industry and travel market. They are one of the largest generations in history who have “come of age” and have moved into their prime spending years. They are the earners and the spenders and by 2020, it’s projected that half of the money spent in the travel sector will come out of their pockets.
Having grown up in a time of rapid change, Millennials have priorities and expectations; they are a generation of travellers’ with particular tastes that are having a growing influence on how people stay and what they want from their stay. They want loyalty programs that provide instant gratification, interesting food and beverage options and flexibility over their stay whether it’s one night or two weeks. As the generation who are 3 times more likely to be an early adopter of technology than any other, they want the latest in technology and common areas that double as work and leisure areas with lobbies like living rooms. “Millennials aren’t so interested in staying in their room, but congregating in compelling spaces,” says Jason Pomeranc, CEO of SIXTY Hotels, “The lines between activities like dining, having a meeting, having cocktails or listening to a presentation have changed,” adds Donna Quadri-Felitti, Ph.D., and academic chair at the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism.
With the emergence of millennial attitudes and their influence on other generations, hotels are being forced to examine how they do business. There is a growing emphasis on launching and acquiring Millennial-inspired hotels that embrace mobility and digital technologies to offer an experience focused towards a more tech-driven guest.
In order to cater for the millennial customer who wants to be able to discuss, organize, book and customize their experiences through their mobile device at their own convenience, hotel operations need to be more fluid. The PMS must support a self-service model where guests control check-in, check-out and amenity ordering through their phone. Short-term, long-term and shared space must be handled without a hiccup. And the staff needs to be able to service guests on-the-spot in the new and popular communal spaces that are now replacing the traditional lobby.
In summary, hotels are now catering to digital natives who have a very flexible notion of what hotel lodging means. Free WiFi alone is not going to appease them. Hotel operations need to be flexible. This is not the time for your father’s PMS.
By Jos Schaap, StayNTouch