Millennials are stepping into the hotel spotlight. That’s making this group an increasingly critical part of the hotel room buying mix. And pretty soon they’re going to be calling the shots and this group has the potential to shake up everything we know about operating a hotel.
Essentially there are a whole lot of these kids entering the workforce and they’re already traveling in droves for pleasure and are starting to be more prevalent business travelers too. In fact, at some point during the next decade will Millennials will supplant the importance of Gen X travelers and Baby Boomers to the hotel industry’s bottom line. Already driving billions of dollars in spending decisions, many of those dollars going to hotels and travel related activities. And they have yet to reach peak spending!
More challenging is their travel buying and staying behaviors are way different than their older travel brethren. Remember, this is the first generation that has never known a world before the internet and the way they have integrated technologies into their lives is wholly different than older generations.
That’s going to make it tricky for hoteliers to capture Millennial’s loyalty for the long term, but they are trying. Worse yet, the problem seems to be seeping into the Generation X mindset as well which is making online bookers inherently less loyal as they are increasingly driven by factors such as price more than loyalty.
“To understand the Millennials you have to realize they do not want stuff, they want experiences. For them it is 50-60% consistency and 30-40% surprise,” said Andrew Fay, President & COO of Gettys during a panel discussion focusing on capturing the consumer at this morning’s BITAC Owners.
BITAC is the industry leading one-on-one meetings and relationship building event. This week marks the 45th BITAC meeting which attracted the ultimate group of insiders and decision makers representing leading and forward thinking companies. And they’re all here to come together at BITAC Owners here at The Breakers hotel in Palm Beach to problem solve, network, sign deals and exchange ideas to move forward the quality of experiences for hotel guests, while adding profits to the bottom line. There’s even time to cut loose, be social and network in a luxurious and relaxed environment.
Fay said to really grab hold of the Millennial consumer there must be a mix between localization & globalization. That is, creating a heightened sense of place but utilizing technology to empower guests to take that experience through the internet to connect with people globally.
Murat Ozsu, Founder and CEO of InnRoad said it’s the internet and the advancement of mobile technology that has the most potential to force change.
“Millennials are connected all the time. They bring their own devices and use them. They are sending out pictures of the hotel and their experiences. Guests are giving out all that content for the hotel so hotel operators have to think about how they infuse what they have gotten from the guest’s experience,” said Ozsu.
Frank Pitsikalis, Founder & CEO and ResortSuite said that this trend should manifest itself by giving guests more control over their stay by embracing ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) technology.
“Mobile has really changed hospitality but it has been a subtle shift. Today the guest is in charge and you need to help them feel empowered or in charge with the technology they are bringing. They should be able to use their devices to do things such as make a spa appointment while sitting by the pool,” Pitsikalis.
“You must combine knowing who your customer is and marry their needs and their preferences to technology,” said William Gilchrist, Regional Director of Sales with TravelClick. “I kind of feel sorry for the operators. How do you keep up with all the changes?”