How Hospitality Brands Can Successfully Market to Millennials

By Brett Tabano Senior Vice President of Marketing, MediaAlpha | August 12, 2018

Today, millennials are on the verge of surpassing Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation in the United States, making them prime targets for marketing campaigns within every industry, including the hospitality space. But, many of these brands are starting to realize that their traditional marketing strategies aren't resonating as well with this generation like the ones before it, as millennials have altered what has been considered the norm. Through their new purchasing patterns, social behaviors and influences, millennials have forced brands to entirely rethink their marketing strategies.

One of millennials' defining traits is that they place a higher value on experiences like traveling, dining and enjoying live music, over tangible items. In fact, research shows that millennials already comprise over one-third of the world's hotel guests, and are anticipated to account for over 50 percent within the next two years. Therefore, hotels and hospitality brands must ensure their marketing campaigns are creating a sense of experience for millennials in order to engage them, as traditional marketing is not as enticing to this group.

While millennials are tricky to market to, that does not mean it's impossible. Brands just need to understand them, not get frustrated and forget about them.

The best way for marketers to generate the greatest number of sales this year is by developing and executing a comprehensive strategy designed to reach and engage millennial customers at multiple touchpoints. It won't be a "one and done" campaign, but the more brands are able to test the waters with this audience and see how they respond to different marketing tactics, the better off they will be at crafting a brand image that aligns with millennials.

This article will explore three ways hotel brands can begin to jumpstart their millennial marketing today.

1. Focus on Appealing and Engaging Content Marketing

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.