The Hottest Hotel Design Elements for Baby Boomers, Millennials and Gen Z

By David Ashen Principal and Founder, dash design | December 23, 2018

As a hotelier, which generation do you cater to? Boomers, who favor luxurious rooms, along with prime amenities and service? Millennials, who live through mobile technology and ultra-connectivity? Or Gen Z, the high-tech group concerned with global diversity and social justice?

Or maybe you've managed to meet the needs and preferences of all three generations?

Keeping Current with Millennials and Gen Z

Most of the attention by today's hoteliers has been on making the millennial and younger generations comfortable, including a heightened emphasis on spaces with digital connectivity and opportunities for social interaction, like bar areas that do double-duty at check-in points. Also popular are gathering areas located at high altitudes, like rooftop bars and exclusive penthouse lounges, with some seeing lines forming at their entries at 5 p.m. Adding to the scenes are rock-star-status mixologists and cocktail menus.

By creating spaces that make it easy for the younger guest to stay connected through digital and personal interactions-absolutes craved by millennials and the up-and-coming generation, Gen Z-hoteliers are satisfying the groups' lifestyle preferences, giving them good reason to book a room or two at their properties during the travelers' business and pleasure trips.

Many hotel brands are paying attention to the younger set's vibe, giving patrons plenty of option for gathering and socializing, like the Freehand New York that features a cool retro 80's era game room, and five food and beverage outlets-yes, there are five. When most hoteliers cringe at operating one full-service restaurant, the Freehand has taken on multiple outlets to make this a multi-level bar and restaurant destination that happens to have hotel rooms. From the ground floor to the roof, there are quiet getaways, like the George Washington Bar on the second floor, where the guest can cozy up with friends in an intimate atmosphere infused with history, to the boisterous rooftop Broken Shaker which mixes a tropical tiki bar with the New York City skyline. There is nothing but choice in this hotel, which, while aimed at younger generations, also-surprisingly-attracts GenXers and Boomers.

The Secret Garden - tucked into the lounge space, an reclusive outdoor space where one can enjoy a cocktail and small bite.
Bar Lounge - An accommodating space for work or play
Lobby Lounge - Welcoming arrival that is cheerful, bright, & airy
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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.