Hotel Trends: Marketing to Millennials

June 16, 2017    Category : Hotel Trends   Posted By : Alina Kostek

Enticing the Millennial Generation to Book your Hotel

 

Millennials have been in the spotlight for years now when it comes to business- from their habits in the workplace to targeting them with digital marketing messages. Multiple studies have said the Millennial’s desire to travel is greater than any other generation, so hospitality leaders have taken notice and have jumped into action. New hotel brands are emerging with Millennial-focused themes and all brands, large chains and boutique hotels alike, have altered their approaches to design and marketing to target this audience.

These changes in design, themes, brand and marketing don’t come cheap, however. Brands and hotels must reallocate resources to new channels and in many cases, invest now to reap the benefits to come.  Strategic, long-term planning involving all departments is the key to winning with this new generation.

 

Brand Development

Millennials don’t think of travelling as a luxury, rather it’s a necessity. The yearn to explore and learn about unfamiliar places is a common quality, and one that hotels must pay attention to. As mentioned in a recent blog from MDG, millennials are on track to spend $1.4 trillion on travel each year by 2020. With this generation budgeting their money to travel more than any generation in the past, it would be foolish not to cater the travelling experiences to this segment of potential customers.

It comes as no surprise that some of the largest hotel chains were quick to step up to the plate and start changing their focus to target Millennials. New brands have emerged and new portfolios have been developed to create Millennial-worthy lodging all across the globe.

Marriott is a prime example of harnessing the culture that Millennials have identified as important and created a hotel brand to match. Moxy by Marriott was developed in 2014 boasting small, stylish rooms and a mission to emphasize a sense of community and social consciousness, two traits that are valued by this generation.

 

Technology and Design

Designers have changed their focus from amenities to mobile and from individual rooms to common rooms.

All about the fast & free Wi-Fi, Millennials demand high speed Internet over anything else. As the group mocked for being glued to their phones, it only makes sense that fast and reliable Wi-Fi would be the highest priority for these travelers. This is causing a shift in how hotels approach Wi-Fi, such as including it “free” with direct bookings, and investing in the tech infrastructure to ensure bandwidth and speed.

Communal social spaces are also a prevailing theme for emerging brands. The idea to eat, drink, play and mingle with other travelers in cool & chic common spaces are the focal point for design. By downsizing guestrooms, the common spaces have become larger and more frequent throughout hotels. With bars serving all night, snacks readily available and plenty of nooks & crannies to hide away in to do work, hoteliers are drawing guests out of their rooms and into various common spaces to enforce a sense of community and enhance their experience.

The focus on rooms is not the size anymore, but rather the attention to detail. With an emphasis on social gathering spaces, rooms have become smaller because guests are urged to spend little time in their rooms and more time exploring the hotel’s amenities and the area’s culture. However, although rooms may be getting smaller, the emphasis on the little things is getting bigger.

Room & common space designs aren’t just decided on for their color and quality, they are purposefully put together to reflect and fit in with the surrounding area. Because Millennials are this “go-getter generation” who love to travel (and travel often) to gain exposure to new places, the idea is to capture and emulate a city’s culture in all the elements of design.

To achieve these new effects with design, brands and hoteliers must weigh out the pros and cons of renovating vs. new construction. In order to develop the best strategy, they also need to take into account:

  • the price of real estate and construction

  • new supply in the market

  • market forecast as a result of economic, political, environmental and behavioral factors

 

Marketing

The rooms and common spaces aren’t the only things that have changed to attract this generation of travelers, the marketing approach has changed too.

Following up on the necessity for fast Wi-Fi, marketing tactics to reach these Internet-loving customers follow a similar pattern. Long gone are the days of flyers, post cards and your traditional email marketing campaigns. Around 49% of Millennials plan, as well as book, trips on their smartphones according to Expedia’s Future of Travel Study. Marketing must be targeted to reach this audience where they are. Millennials are always on the go and up to date on social media, so the best way to reach them is just that!

Hoteliers are shifting their focus away from traditional mediums and approaching Millennials in the online spaces they frequent most: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Social media influencers are on the rise and hotels are no strangers to engage with these professionals. By partnering with travel celebs on social media, brands are more likely to catch the attention of this generation because Millennials have revealed that they are planning their vacations to places that they saw their friends or others post about on social.

Starwood’s Tribute Portfolio is a perfect example of this. The brand is using paid influencers to promote clickable pics to reserve rooms. They also have their own hashtag to encourage travelers to post their own pictures of their properties (#independentmoments). And believe it or not, they even use Snapchat.

Next step, AR (augmented reality)… it doesn’t get much more Millennial than that!

 

The Takeaways

Millennials are at the center of the hospitality industry’s viewpoint right now. These emerging trends are no longer just emerging, they are becoming the norm. Marriott anticipates that Millennials could comprise up to 50% of its guests by 2020, and the trend will continue to evolve as the generation continues to spend on travel experiences.

Hotels and brands can capture this audience and the dollars that follow by implementing a strategic plan that addresses the main themes above: Brand Development, Technology, Design and Marketing.

This will require an all hands-on deck approach! The hotels that win this audience will not only be innovative thinkers but will have done their homework as it relates to forecasting, market conditions and trends. It is a mistake to jump all in to try to get ahead without testing the waters first. Optimizing each and every dollar put into capturing this generation is a must as expenses can run high. Seeking the advice of experts in all fields mentioned above is well worth the investment in the long run to make the best choices for the next millennium!

 

Neirbi Analytics provides data-driven marketing and sales solutions for hotels and is one of the only forecasting tools that looks beyond comp set to help predict demand. Neirbi’s core capability lies in the aggregation, editing and actionable delivery of key points of impact for your hotel including events, weather, economic factors, schools, sharing economy, business trends and more. Neirbi edits through all the noise and goes beyond just delivering data to providing actionable opportunities for sales, marketing and customer-experience.  To learn more about Neirbi Hotel Solutions visit Neirbi.com