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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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.