Staying Alert to Society's Generations

By Richard Takach, Jr. President & CEO, Vesta Hospitality | September 06, 2015

The goal is not to pigeonhole any one group or individual but rather to gain some insights that may help us better understand what satisfies our staff and our guests. By doing this we can understand how to build a harmonious, productive team and a great guest experience.

Ages Add Up

Let's start with the "older folks", the 15 percent of the US population that is aged 65 and over (48 million people, give or take a few). Among this group are many active, highly educated, financially secure, resourceful men and women who are anything but retired. They take on new careers, form businesses or travel the globe, landing upon the doorsteps and in the lobbies of many of our properties. Many of these individuals, either due to necessity or merely an interest in staying active and earning a few extra bucks, are extending their work life, at least part-time.

With their accumulated knowledge and experience of the hospitality industry, these industry veterans can be invaluable adjuncts to our full-time staff. These seniors also include some Baby Boomers, which the U.S. Census Bureau classifies as those born between the years 1946 and 1964. They make up about a quarter of the U.S. population. The group has substantial financial resources in aggregate and still strongly influences consumer spending. With the oldest baby comers now nearing 70 years of age, some individuals in this group qualify as seniors, some of whom are retired, while other Baby Boomers are in the latter stages of their work lives or family responsibilities.

Peeling off the years we find Gen X, those born after the post-World War II baby boom, with birth dates ranging from the early 1960s to early 1980s. Succeeding this group are the Millennials (also called Generation Y). Their birth dates range from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.

Millennials, having grown up as the most computer, Internet and social media savvy of the generations mentioned certainly garner a great deal of attention. They are among our youngest staff members; many just starting out in the hospitality industry. Rounding out the alphabet, the generation currently in their childhood years is being called Generation Z.

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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.