Millennials: The Target Market Essential to the Travel Industry's Future
By Bruce Seigel General Manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe | June 05, 2016
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.
Ultimately, the career day experience changed the way I think about how hotels market to not just Millennials, but also Generation X and Baby Boomer travelers too. But before I reveal what I learned, I want to assure my peers that I'm not suggesting we abandon our prototypical sales and marketing plans. However, we must allow our plans the flexibility to explore new ways of engaging with a variety of travelers.
Like a college campus, our hotel campuses thrive when we meet the needs of our guests. But that's a tall order for us because unlike college campuses, we are not trying to appeal to just one target market.
Competition from new travel experiences like Airbnb or Couchsurfing are placing pressure on traditional hotels to adapt and create benefits that entice, cherish, and reward guests. But is this effort in vain? Many in the industry believe a commitment to the statutory services and qualities that define our business is enough for all generations.
As I observed student behavior inside the career fair, it was impossible to ignore their compulsion to assemble their own mini-theatrical productions (I'm in more selfies than I wish to admit). Creating a 10-second panoramic smart phone documentary on Snapchat is a talent they wield well. And despite the fundamental mundanity of a career fair, these attendees were changing the atmosphere by creating personal experiences inside their social media galaxy.
I quickly began to feel like I was in the cantina scene in Star Wars. Wanting to look like I was on the same star ship, I opened my phone and glared at a dashboard of icons before me.
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