Sales & Marketing: The Rise of the Millennials

Hotel Sales & Marketing departments have endured massive change in the past few years in terms of how they conduct their business, and there is little evidence to suggest that things will be slowing down anytime soon. Technological advances continue to determine how they research, analyze, plan, engage and ultimately sell to their customers. Though "traditional" marketing is still in the mix, there has been a major shift in focus toward online marketing. First and foremost is an understanding of who their primary audience is and how to market to them. Millennials (those born between 1981-1997) are the fastest growing customer segment in the hospitality industry, and they are expected to represent 50% of all travelers by 2025. With the rise of millennial consumers, sales and marketing efforts will need to be more transparent and tech savvy, with a strong emphasis on empathy and personal customer connection. Social media is essential for this demographic and they expect hotels to engage them accordingly. Other targeted groups include cultural buffs, foodies, LGBT, and multi-generational travelers - all of whom are seeking novel experiences tailored specifically to their interests and needs. Finally the Baby Boomers are still a force to be reckoned with. They are currently the wealthiest generation and are becoming increasingly tech savvy, with 33% of internet users now falling into this demographic. It is imperative that hotels include this generation when it comes to their 2016 digital marketing strategies. The June Hotel Business Review will examine some of these markets and report on what some sales and marketing professionals are doing to address them.

Library Archives

Erich Zuri

In under a decade 50% of all travelers will be between the ages of 44 and 28. Travel for meetings, conferences, and knowledge sharing will undoubtedly play a role. Millennials will also be front and center in planning and hosting business gatherings, and Gen X and Boomers will also continue to be strongly in the mix. This generational mash-up, and the intersecting meteoric rise in technology, poses new and interesting challenges and opportunities for marketing hotels globally. Hotels need to create forward looking, fresh ways to engage with planners -- especially online -- tipping tradition on its head and straddling generations more creatively. READ MORE

Dorothy Dowling

Today’s millennial traveler is dominating the way that hospitality marketing professionals showcase their products to the consumer. Many of the changes and innovations being seen in the hospitality industry today feature a distinct focus on the millennial. And it’s no wonder – millennials comprise a vast segment of the traveling public and it’s expected that they will continue to use their discretionary income on travel experiences in the coming years. Best Western Hotels & Resorts is not unlike others in this regard, and we have implemented several strategies to ensure we are evaluating the evolving needs of millennials. READ MORE

Kevin   Fliess

Hotels have spent the last decade trying to come to terms with a changing technology landscape that upended not only their sales and marketing strategies, but their operational processes, too. Now they face an even greater shift - one that will change their sales and marketing culture for years to come - the rise of the Millennial generation, and with that, the emergence of Millennial meeting and event planners. In parallel with a rapid increase in Millennial leisure travelers, this new generation of young adults increasingly comprises the largest age group attending meetings & events, which are very often planned by a Millennial. READ MORE

Laurence Bernstein

Fundamentally, the difference between a “Good Brand” and a “Great Brand” is the ability of the organization, through its products, people and communications to engage on an emotional level. “Good Brands”, and most successful brands are good brands, deliver promised services consistently and achieve high satisfaction ratings. “Great Brands” do exactly the same thing, but achieve off-the-charts satisfaction ratings because they have connected at a deeper level. On a more prosaic level, a visit to the marketing and revenue management teams “Good Brand Inc.” is an immersion into complaints about OTAs and commodity pricing pressures (discounts); a visit to the same group at “Great Brand Inc.” is an eye opening exposure to sustained margins, direct bookings, and eye-watering occupancy figures! READ MORE

Megan Paquin

Millennial travelers crave connections to local culture. Large convention hotels and boutique resorts alike are challenged to offer the authentic, memorable experiences travelers in this influential demographic demand. But, rather than compete with local artisans and tastemakers, hoteliers can boost their bottom line with collaborative initiatives. Along with local influencers, curating native experiences within the hotel can increase incremental revenue and drive repeat business. Locally sourced food and beverage options have become a standard in most hotels. Some hotel restaurants even boast ingredients sourced from their own on-site farms, gardens or breweries. Yet, millennial travelers trend toward dining experiences outside of the hotel for a true taste of the destination. READ MORE

Maja Derviskadic

Millennial’s may look to OTAs and Airbnb when they just want to book a room, but they’re flocking to social media to build robust itineraries that will be the envy of all their friends. Savvy marketers know that winning over this generation is about immersive experiences that sell the property and destination vs. a package or special room rate. Now is the time to pay attention to emerging platforms on the rise like Snapchat, Periscope and Facebook Live Stream, which can take audiences on a visual journey from the lobby to the bar and behind-the-scenes in 60 seconds or less. READ MORE

Jon Conching

While the millennial traveler is a relatively new demographic, these Gen Y travelers are becoming increasingly important for resort marketers to target in order to gain enduring brand loyalty and consumer trust. They make up a quickly-growing demographic seeking thoughtfully-curated leisure and business experiences and use various mediums to research and finalize travel-related purchases. According to Pew Research, millennials represent the largest generation of consumers today, totaling 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers. Within this group of consumers, is the millennial family traveler – individuals or couples with children who are looking for travel experiences that fit their wants and needs as a family unit. READ MORE

John  Kraft

A 2012 survey by SilkRoad Technology revealed that some 75 percent of employees use social media on the job, and that 60 percent do so multiple times a day. Of those surveyed, 49 percent said they use social media to connect with coworkers and 44 percent said they use social media to connect with customers. Yet, only 23 percent of employees had received a social media policy from their employers, and only 7 percent had received social media training. Clearly, employers are not communicating with their employees their preferences about using social media. But not addressing social media issues can be as bad as encouraging them. READ MORE

Keith Chouinard

Connected. Conscientious. Curious. Simple, but accurate, these three words sum up the common core of traits Millennials bring to a travel experience. The named generation, defined as those born between 1980 and 1997, range from young adults about to graduate from college to 30-somethings juggling career and family in pursuit of that elusive sweet spot known as life-work balance. While they may be at different stages in their life journeys, research shows Millennials have a keen interest in travel experiences that connect them to their destination. A recent article in G Brief, a digital magazine published by Urbaneer Creative [], a creative consultancy for businesses READ MORE

Jos Schaap

Technology is having a huge impact on how guest preferences are formed, expressed, and received by hotels. The impact of mobility is profound, along with the centrality of guest choice. While technology has evolved, innovation at the front desk has not kept pace. This study examines the forces leading the industry to this point – and proposes some solutions. Should your hotel’s guest check in be more like the guest experience at an Apple Store? What would this look like, and would it be a good thing – for you, your ability to manage your property, and above all, for your guests? The concept is not as farfetched as it seems. READ MORE

Ginny Morrison

As the labeled ‘millennial generation’ continues its ascent up the corporate ladder and young employees take the helm in management positions, Spire Hospitality - one of the nation’s leading and most respected hotel management companies – shares how its leadership is hearing the needs and desires of this particular peer group to identify and provide tools to function in the manner in which these young professionals expect. With this age sector of sales employees continuing to expand as vice president of sales and marketing, I have been chosen to lead the team to discover cutting edge research, create new programs and rollout concepts in 2016. READ MORE

Dave Spector

Every generation and demographic has seen its share of gimmicky marketing and cringe-worthy advertising. Millennials are no different. With all the attention millennials have received as the current ‘it’ demographic, hotel brands are being challenged to come up with brilliant campaigns that they can relate to. In this push for creativity, some brands go overboard by jumping on the latest slang, trend, social media platform, or celebrity du jour, with the brand coming off as desperate as a result. While we can all admire a brand that will bend over backwards to sell to the world’s largest consumer group, they can end up doing the one thing that Gen Y hates the most: Trying too hard. READ MORE

Junvi Ola

It’s no secret that millennial travelers, such as myself, are leery of traditional marketing and find it inauthentic. Conventional advertising and hotel marketing, as we used to know it, are one of the many victims being demolished by Gen Y’s aversion to old-school ways of doing things. It’s now up to hotel brands to throw away some of their worn-down marketing practices and instead act as visionaries in their own industry, creating genuine and remarkable marketing avenues and experiences that excite, intrigue and engage millennial travelers. So, farewell to in-your-face hotel ads. Adios, one-way marketing messages. READ MORE

Bruce  Seigel

As is often our responsibility to inspire the next generation of hoteliers, I recently participated in a career fair at a local college. It is without saying that, as hotel executives, our schedules are rarely flexible; but I felt the opportunity was worthy. So rather than excuse myself with a polite apology and blame my regrets on a busy schedule, I accepted the honor because I knew the day would take me on a trip into a galaxy filled with new life forms: Millennials, a target market many say is essential to the travel industry’s future. READ MORE

Walter Isenberg

It’s not just the baby boomers and it’s not just the millennials, it’s everybody. Over the past few years the travel experience has changed across the board. Heads in beds is the cherry on the top but it’s no longer the goal, and that’s because our guest wants more, and we want more for them. This is the “new traveler” they are the young business professional by day, silent-disco seeker by night and they are the older tourist with a camera who still needs full strength wifi for all of their devices. The lines are starting to blur but there is one constant. READ MORE

Kevin Richards

By the year 2020, millenials will comprise over 50 percent of the U.S. population and they are poised to overtake previous generations in their zest for business travel. According to research conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) millenials are nearly twice as likely to want to travel for business then baby boomers (45 percent to 26 percent, respectively). In addition, a strong majority of millennials, 57 percent, say technology can never replace face-to-face business meetings. So ready or not, here come the millennials, the next generation of road warriors, packing their smart devices and looking for b-leisure, READ MORE

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.