‘Millennials’ is a term we have all heard and know. Although I have never considered myself to be one, having been born in 1980 (I know I am old), I, apparently, am one of them. Many of us in the industry, when we think about Millennials, often think of young people that don’t have any cares in the world, that are impatient and needy and want everything served to them on a plate. Right? So why should we cater for this ‘lazy’ generation?
Well I am here to tell you to start thinking differently. Millennials account for 35% of hotel guests in 2018 with that number set to rise to 50% by 2020. Now put that into perspective in terms of your hotels revenue. Imagine losing 50% of your revenue just because you didn’t want to consider the needs of a generation you felt were not worth bothering about or considering.
With 2020 only being two years away, if you haven’t already started to adapt your hotel and what you offer your guests, then you need to do it now, or you will find yourself, and your hotel, slowly fading into the background.
This is a big one for millenials. With the rise of boutique hotels, aparthotels and the demands of the millennial generation who want more and more for less and less, price sensitivity is a big selling point. Millennials want more, but they still want to pay less. There are many ways around this, like Virgin Hotels, which offers its guests extras such as happy hour at the bar, or affordable mini bars, as well as features of convenience like early check-in, late check-out as well as free late cancellations for example.
The other option is to look at companies like bidroom.com, who not only offer your hotel commission free bookings but more importantly they offer their community of travelers cheaper prices on hotels, cheaper than other booking platforms. By being available to book to communities such as this one, you are supporting your own industry, increasing your own revenue and more importantly, making a statement to the new generation that you are the place to stay if they want more for less.
Get tech savvy and let them give back
Inspired by the likes of Airbnb and its ability and drive to be one of the biggest booking communities without ever owning a hotel, today’s’ traveller wants to add something to the community when they stay with you. They want to be able to feel like they are adding to the local economy as well as the industry as a whole, while at the same time being able to have access to features which include community, value, trust and connections.
There are many ways that you can achieve part of this, but as ever, with the Millennial generation, they want it to be interactive, efficient and at their fingertips. Companies like Appytect allow you to easily design and build an interactive app specifically for your hotel and you don’t need to be a tech whiz-kid to do it.
Using an app can allow you to automate certain things, like check-in and out, order a wake up call, or even breakfast. But more importantly, if you follow the lead of Marriott Hotels, for instance, who have designed an app called ‘Six Degrees’ that allows the system to explore the LinkedIn profiles of guests and suggest activities they might be interested in or express interest in jogging in the park or craft beer tasting, or simply eating out together you will be giving your guests something extra that they cannot find anywhere else (for now at least).
Leveraging tech like this can allow you to give your guests a very interactive experience and keep them coming back for more time and time again.
An experience, not just a holiday
We are all familiar with the ‘traditional’ holiday maker. They want to arrive and go to their room to unpack before heading downtown, or to the beach to get some food or go for a swim. They want breakfast between seven and nine and fresh towels every day or every other day. Then, at the end of their two weeks they will be satisfied, content and fulfilled.
It is the same for Millennials right? Wrong. Millennials want something more. They want to have an experience when they are on holiday. Not just a holiday. They want to be able to experience the local culture, they want to explore places that people don’t generally go. They want live music, good food, good bars to drink in and slacklining adventure days for example. You can capitalise on this by integrating ‘places to see’ and ‘places to eat’ into your hotels app. You can also call the companies you advertise and ask for some special deals or discount for your guests with a personalised promo code.
I left this one for last as this is potentially the most expensive option. Of course you can re-decorate with a fresh lick of paint and some nice home accessories, and can do it relatively cheaply. But the new generation want more than that. The single most important spending you can do, is a decent broadband connection with a router that can handle multiple and excessive demand on your bandwidth.
If you look at what they have done at with the Zoku Hotel in Amsterdam it will give you a pretty good idea of what millennials are looking for. This hotel was planned and designed around a lot of research into what is wanted from a new hotel.
There are many ways you can improve the design of your hotel, and large variations in the cost of doing so, but remember that the important things that people want these days are comfort, style, uniqueness, comfortable working space and above all else, a very good internet connection for multiple devices.
To sum up, the world of hotel and tourism is changing rapidly. Needs and wants have changed, and you need to change with it. If you don’t, you will get left behind and in this business, if you do that, you won’t have a business left for much longer.
By Steve Sydenhamm, who started working in the hospitality industry over 20 years ago. He spent many years working as a rescue manager for the biggest hospitality group in the UK where he grew to understand marketing, sales, and PR and how to make that business grow and flourish and maximise profits. Now he has taken to travel and hospitality writing in order to pass on his knowledge and experience.