Reaching the Matures: The 1st Hump in Your Generational Marketing

By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | May 05, 2010

Okay, consider these three points:

  1. Whom do you think of when you hear the word Doctor? Well, if you are a
    member of the Mature generation, you probably think of Dr. Spock. Baby
    Boomers lean towards Dr. Strangelove. For, Generation X, it is Dr.
    Kevorkian, and for the Millennial generation (sometimes called Generation
    Y), Dr. Phil comes to mind, of course.

  2. Say the word gay, and Matures will start singing a line from an old
    Christmas carol, "Don't we now our gay apparel, fa la la la la la, la la
    la." Baby Boomers look to see if someone is coming out of a closet, while
    Gen X visualize a Gay-Pride parade led by a cluster of rainbow striped
    flags. And Gen Y? Why they envision The Fab Five, -- Kyan, Thom, Jai, Carson
    and Ted - stars of Bravo's celebrated TV show, Queer Eye for the Straight
    Guy.

  3. You know you are a Mature if Paris brings to mind a picture of American
    armed forces triumphantly liberating the city In World War II. You know you
    are a Boomer when Paris represented the dream destination for your
    honeymoon. You know you are a customer of Generation X when Paris was
    someplace to go for a weekend shopping trip. But you are a customer of
    Generation Y when the name Paris is automatically followed by the name
    Hilton.

Within these three examples lie the wisdom of an ancient proverb and the genesis of generational marketing for hotels: Men resemble the times more than they do their fathers. Members of a generation are forever connected by virtue of the fact that they shared life-defining experiences during their formative years - world events, natural disasters, economic conditions, politics, and technology. These common experiences created bonds that tie consumers of a generation together into cohorts with similar attitudes, values, and life skills that affect everything from how they spend, what they save, and, yes, even if they stay at your hotel. And for the first time in our history, there are four distinct generations of consumers to whom you are marketing the same product - i.e. your hotel.

The market always evolves to the different needs and values of each generation. For example, Betty Crocker introduced a line of ready to bake cake mixes in the 1950s; they flopped. This was the era of stay-at-home moms - today's Matures. To these women, who grew up during the depression and World War II, sacrifice was a virtue. Anything that was too easy was suspect. Convenience seemed like cheating. So the idea of saying they baked a cake by opening a box and just adding water went against their values. It was foreign to one of their generational markers. Finally, Betty Crocker figured this cohort value out and reformulated the mix to require adding an egg. The new mix succeeded because there was a sense of work; it was in line with their generational values.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.