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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