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Gen Y, Hotels & Shifting Trends

Gen Y, Hotels & Shifting Trends

By Triggerfish

If patience is a virtue then I’m going to hell. A hell-scape that will probably take the form of endless delayed deliveries and slow internet connection because, as a 27 year old living in London, I’m practically fronting a generation of eternally impatient millennials that demand instant results all of the time.

02.05.2019

Gen Y, Hotels & Shifting Trends

If you think about it, thanks to technology we can have almost anything we want at the click of a button. It doesn’t matter where you are, or what time it is, companies worldwide are capitalising on our need for instant gratification. If you need to get home, Uber has your back. If you don’t fancy cooking, Deliveroo is on stand by and if you’re looking for love, well, there’s an endless list of match-making apps ready to quell your loneliness at the swipe of a finger.

Not only can we get anything we want but we can get it almost instantaneously. Just the other day I saw a book on Instagram, purchased it on Amazon and it arrived a mere five hours later. What a time to be alive!

Travel agent Thomas Cook has seemingly been inspired by us hip, young things and recently announced the launch of its millennial holiday package ‘Cook’s Club’, think all inclusive, VR headsets, silent discos, vegan menus and house music. Which is fine if you’re the literal embodiment of the word hipster but if not, it sort of misses the point.

It’s brilliant that Thomas Cook are evolving their holiday offering (who won’t be glad to see the back of 18-30 packages?) but the cold hard truth of it is, any millennial worth their rosemary salted chips, just wouldn’t book a package holiday.

Millennials do not necessarily see luxury the same way other groups have seen it in the past, which was more revolved around showing off a higher status.

Millennials are willing to spend more on luxury, but not to show off. They want to be able to book hotels at the click of a button, document their trip on social media and feel like they’re getting or giving something of value, whether that’s through sustainability initiatives or knowledge sharing – all inclusive is out and authentic experiences are in.

So how do operators meet demands spawned by the culture of immediacy? With millennial travellers making up over one third of the world’s hotel guests and predictions that this will reach over 50 per cent by 2020, what can luxury hotels do to appeal to millennials and ensure a successful operation?

An authentic experience

Millennials are no longer satisfied with just sipping cocktails next to the pool in a resort, they want to experience the history and traditions of a country and feel a connection to each place they visit. The rise of self-care and wellness feeds into this need for authenticity as travellers seek to come away from a holiday feeling fulfilled. Hotels need a much more holistic approach to guest experience, advising on local hot spots, offering activities, sharing the history of the area and even using local produce and products, such as stocking a craft IPA from a local microbrewery, will all help to provide genuine and original experiences.

This generation not only highly values experiences, but they are increasingly spending time and money on them in order to live a meaningful, happy life.

In 2015, Intercontinental Hotel Groups launched its Secrets of The City campaign in order to showcase its commitment to offering authentic, exclusive customer experience at a local level and it proved to be one of the most successful brand campaigns of the last decade.

The power of social media

Newer generations are looking for experiences that they can document on social media platforms. It is now necessary for hotels to create an ambience that is not only inspiring but is something the guest considers worthy of sharing with their wider digital network. Incorporating great art and design into a hotel will not only create a lasting impression but it’ll increase the chance of customers photographing and sharing it on social media, ultimately increasing your searchability.

Like me, most people will almost certainly check out potential hotels and holiday destinations on Instagram because, as we all know, a picture says a thousand words. So make sure your social media account is representative of your hotel’s brand identity and remains consistent. Being active online will give guests confidence in your brand, especially if you’re seen to interact and respond to posts and messages, good or bad.

Lean luxury

The term luxury definitely has a different meaning these days. For millennials, technology plays a big role. Forty per cent of global travellers worry about not being able to connect to Wi-Fi when travelling, according to research commissioned by Booking.com, so a good internet connection is non-negotiable.

Global hotel chain CitizenM are pioneers of the lean luxury model blending ‘instantly-iconic’ interiors and practical furnishings with technology to create a unique guest experience for the ‘city-break, millennial’ types. The brand has really invested in appealing to this particular demographic and standout features include self-service check-in pods, universal power sockets and iPads in each room from which the television, music, mood lighting and curtains can be controlled.

Everything from the lighting design and communal spaces to music selection and unique décor is now being considered when renovating to appeal to this generation. Another great example of this is The Hoxton in London. It’s lobby and bar doubles as a co-working or meeting space for locals and guests alike; its service is top-notch but not that of an overly fussy or formal hotel concierge; and its design-led sensibility means it looks as good on Instagram as it does IRL.

Social consciousness

Not all millennials are created equal but most, if not all millennials are concerned with issues of equality and social consciousness. Millennials want to feel like there’s something of value and, these days, clear sustainability credentials are a must for any brand.

More than ever, consumers are buying from brands based on their social and environmental impact. The emergence of this consciousness has had an unprecedented impact on the luxury industry, influencing the way hotels market and PR themselves to gain consumer approval. From the type of take-away items they provide, to replacing plastic water bottles with reusable ones and filling stations, there are plenty of ways hotels can improve their environmental impact.

The Green House Hotel in Bournemouth blends luxury and sustainability and is recognised as one of the world’s top eco-hotels. The hotel prides itself on offering ethical dining, locally made furniture using sustainable materials and providing an electric vehicle charging point.

Food for thought

People may think that millennials live on a diet of flat white and avocados but they are leading a food revolution. They crave heightened culinary experiences such as intense flavours, colours and textures and swoon over the unusual – think turmeric lattes, cloud eggs and freak shakes (all extremely Instagrammable if I might add).

Today’s food-centric culture means young consumers seek unforgettable dining adventures.

Whether that’s a chefs tasting menu, an immersive dining experience or an exploration of different cultures, millennials are the generation that won't settle for ordinary food!

Bespoke menus, using locally sourced seasonal ingredients or adding an interactive element are all great ways to give flair to a food offering. Hotel Zephyr in San Francisco, for example, teamed up with K-OZ Restaurant & Brewery to bring a food truck dubbed The Camper to the property. The Camper serves sustainable, locally sourced cuisine including seasonal fresh fruit salad in a coconut bowl and Caribbean shrimp with mango salsa, paired with craft beers and Californian wines.

Catering for all generations

Hotels should acknowledge the reality that although millennials are driving the cool new brands and re-engineering of existing brands, they cannot yet forget the necessity of appealing to everyone else: Baby Boomers, Generation X and Z. An appreciation for cool, authentic experience is certainly not restricted to one generation and there is room for everyone to enjoy the evolution of luxury hotels.

Of course, there is still a market for traditional luxury, proven by the success of chains such as the Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons, but millennials are definitely driving a change in the industry and in my eyes, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; focus on minimalist design, impressive artwork, thoughtful food and drink options, and a commitment to highlighting local culture can appeal to everyone.

So as you can see, us millennials really aren’t hard to please at all. All we want is affordable, luxurious and sustainable hotels that serve craft beers and are hot on social media…

In all seriousness though, we may be labelled snowflakes by the older generation but the changes being implemented across the luxury hotel and holiday industry are extremely positive and if millennials can have a hand in encouraging the use of recyclable materials and ethical ingredients, highlight local cultures and create an online community of travellers through avid social media use then I don’t think there’s much wrong with that, do you?

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