Engaging the Millennial Consumer Through a Multi-Sensory Approach

By Scott Acton CEO & Founder, Forte Specialty Contractors | June 26, 2016

Millennials have become the fastest growing consumer segment in the hospitality industry. Therefore, changes in quality and experiences provided in hotels across the nation are essential in ensuring greater competitiveness and overall success.

Millennials, who are heavily reliant on technology and seek non-traditional features in services provided, are looking for a different approach to hospitality; with immersive lifestyle experiences their main priority, resulting in a rising demand for special visual imagery and more comprehensive sensual engagement. Accordingly, it is necessary for the hospitality industry to adjust to this new trend in consumer preferences, demanding that hotels put substantial effort into creating a new environment, appealing to consumersí five senses.

While the younger part of the millennial demographic group is still heavily reliant financially on their parents, on the older end, the generation has already become efficient consumers. According to estimates by HVS Global Hospitality Services, millennialsí average spending power will start climaxing in 2017, and by year 2030, this generation will outnumber all other age groups combined, becoming the main force behind US consumer demand, driving over two-thirds of the nationís economy.

Therefore, a broad scope of the US services sector are bound to adapt to the new patterns in personal consumption set by millennialsí shift of attitudes toward lifestyles and living standards. The hospitality industry is no exception.

The Importance of a Theme Park-Inspired Multi-Sensory Approach

A key concept in the new approach to customer service is the introduction of multi-sensory design similar to that found in theme parks during the past several decades. Traditionally, theme parks tend to create an immersive environment by engaging all five senses. For instance, Disneylandís approach to designing its various locations within the park includes authentic visual imagery such as architecture, sonic experiences including music and other sounds, smells and tastes of the cuisine, all corresponding to the customerís stereotypical perception of a given era being recreated Ė be that the Old West or futuristic scenery of the Star Wars saga.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.