The Millennial Traveler: How This Generation Will Change the Way We Market and Sell Hotels

By Jane Coloccia President & Chief Creative Officer, JC Communications, LLC | November 02, 2014

Welcome to the age of "The Millennials." If you haven't heard of them or haven't tried to get inside their heads, you're already behind the eight ball. This tech-savvy generation will not travel, stay, or book in the same manner as their parents and with the Millennial population projected to significantly outnumber non-Millennials by the year 2030 (according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social affairs), anyone involved in hospitality marketing today needs to cram real fast.

Here is a basic primer on The Millennials:

  • Also known as Generation Y, Generation Net, and Echo Boomers
  • Average birth years ranging from approximately early 1980s to early 2000s
  • Children of Baby Boomers or Gen Xers

For those looking to target the Millennial guest - and let's face reality here, we are all going to HAVE to target this audience - not only will we need to provide the product they seek, but we will have to market this product to them in ways that are completely different than prior generations. It's time to throw out the marketing plan you've marginally updated year after year and start fresh.

Remember that Millennials never existed in a world without computers. Video games and smart phones have given them digital dexterity and they essentially live their lives by way of mobile devices. Therefore, Millennials will not stand for hotels charging for Internet access. This is a generation who seamlessly blends both work and play and therefore the traditional lines of the business travel guest versus the leisure guest are going to be blurred. The business traveler will, no doubt, find ways to incorporate leisure into their stay and you can expect the leisure guest to want to be able to check e-mail and conduct business if only for an hour each day while on vacation. Conference attendees will either be extending their trip to enjoy the leisure facilities at a hotel or will bring along the family to relax while they are in meetings.

From a product and service perspective, Millennials will seek flexibility in room design with regard to the ability to reconfigure furniture according to what works best for them, as well as state-of-the-art technology like mobile check-in. Don't even think about giving them wired or slow Internet, outdated TVs, or old-style Pay-Per-View movies. And if you've recently upgraded any of these, don't be quick to boast about it either, as they'll wonder what took you so long.

As a connected generation, which never has their smart phone beyond arm's reach, Millennials place a strong emphasis on their overall service and product experiences. Everything that you deliver to them from an incredible "WOW" to a disappointing "NOT" will immediately find its way to the social space. Add to this the fact that they - and their friends - are incredibly well connected and this means they have substantial power to influence many people regarding your brand within a matter of mere seconds.

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.