While many people associate the millennials with Airbnb and other short-term rental services, a recent survey conducted by Resonance Consultancy showed that members of this generation actually prefer upscale and luxury hotels for their travels. A number of hotel brands have already responded to the changing expectations of millennials with niche brands and cutting-edge technologies.
Moving forward, all hotels need to think about how they can appeal to this generation with innovative customer experiences and unique amenities, especially as millennials continue to make up a larger percentage of business travelers. It’s also important to keep in mind that millennials are a generation that truly values travel and transformational experiences. Some strategies for appealing to millennials include:
1. Offering a uniquely local experience
The popularity of Airbnb has shown that millennials value unique, localized experiences over cookie-cutter rooms that could be in any hotel, in any city. Millennials want to feel as integrated into their new locale as possible and have an authentic glimpse into local life. Hotels can facilitate this in a number of different ways. Radisson Red, a brand that focuses on millennials, commissions artwork from local artists in each city where its hotels are located, so that every hotel feels slightly different and, importantly, reflective of the area’s culture. While this may sound like a small feature, it really changes the hotel’s atmosphere. Brands may also want to consider offering food from local restaurants, purchasing locally made products for guests, and even offering sightseeing tours.
2. Supporting charitable causes
Millennials have emerged as one of the most socially conscious and engaged generations. They tend to have a deep drive to support the causes they care about and will choose brands that care about the same things. Therefore, hospitality brands that want to appeal to millennials may want to attach themselves to a specific cause and help raise money and awareness. Hotels can hold drives or provide opportunities for small donations at various points during a guest’s stay. Each location can support a local organization, or the brand can get behind one or two major causes. Either way, the hotel can offer some donation for every stay booked to help customers feel like they are giving back when they travel. Of course, hotels can also demonstrate social responsibility by using eco-friendly products and taking steps to reduce water and energy use. Millennials take notice of these details.
3. Embracing mobile technologies
Because they grew up in the era of cellular phones, millennials enjoy being connected at all times. Mobile devices have become a central part of life for this generation, and hotels should ensure that they appeal to this drive for connectedness. At the most basic level, hotels should have mobile-friendly websites and a presence on a range of different social media outlets. Publishing meaningful content on Facebook or other platforms is a great way to connect with current customers and attract new ones.
Hotels that want to go a step further can integrate mobile technologies into a seamless guest experience—to the point where guests do not have to interact with people at all during their stay, unless they choose to do so. Millennials want to be able to book a room, check in, and even access their room using their mobile device. In addition, brands can use apps to allow guests to book experiences, request items, or learn about the local area.
4. Providing opportunities for “bleisure”
The term “bleisure” means mixing business with pleasure. Millennials are significantly more likely than any other generation to extend their business trips a few days for leisure. During this time, friends or significant others may join them for the trip. Hotels should therefore make the process of extending a stay or adding guests as seamless as possible, while also ensuring that they offer a blend of business amenities and opportunities for fun and exploration of the local area. When brands offer unique experiences and adventures to guests, they’ll be more likely to stay longer in order to take advantage of them. For example, hotels may offer bike tours or partner with local businesses to create behind-the-scenes or meet-and-greet events.
5. Offering digital amenities
For millennials, free and fast Wi-Fi is an absolute must when they stay at a hotel. However, providing Wi-Fi only scratches the surface of the digital amenities that a hotel can offer guests. Millennials love technology and enjoy trying out new things when they travel. Given this, hotels may want to create completely connected guest rooms where guests have control of lighting, air conditioning, and more from their own mobile devices or one that the hotel provides. These systems may also control the television and other entertainment devices, as well as automated blinds systems.
Furthermore, while some guests enjoy pay-per-view services, providing televisions with streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu will certainly attract millennials. Hotels should also recognize that the average millennial traveler brings five electronic devices, so having several easily accessible charging options is critical for a good stay.