Millennial Mysteries

Millennials are brand loyal.

Millennials have no loyalty.

Millennials want recognition

Millennials don’t care about recognition.

Millennials want to hang out in the lobby and play on their devices.

Millennials want to leave the hotel and head to the nearest coffee shop to hang out and play on their devices.

As the Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman famously said, “Nobody knows nothing.” He was talking about nobody knowing how well a movie will do once it’s released. But the same may go for any kind of hard data on Millennials – despite their being the most-studied group since, well, Baby Boomers.



At last week’s New York University Hospitality Industry Investment Conference , Simon Turner, president of global development for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, said “There’s a risk of over-thinking [all of the analysis going into the Millennial traveler]. People take on different personas when they travel, for different reasons. It’s psychographics more than demographics.”

There’s no question that some broad statements can be made about many(!) Millennials – that they consider Wi-Fi a basic human need, will tend to use social media more than their elders (although, of course, older folks are the fastest growing users of Facebook), and will be the largest spenders for the next few years.

But beyond that…

A personal note. Although an early Boomer, I have been studying and performing improv comedy for a dozen years and more often than not my cohorts are Millennials. Here’s what I’ve learned (admittedly, this is not a scientific sample since they all chose to do improv):

  • They read books.
  • They don’t mind doing what their parents did.
  • They cannot be categorized or stereotyped.

Anyway, is it already time to look for the next massive group after the Millennials? In what was one of the most quoted statements of the NYU conference, Frits van Paasschen, CEO of Starwood, said the first guest to check in to a new penthouse at the St. Regis New York was an 18 year old from Qatar. What do we know about him?

At least once on every panel at every hospitality conference someone will say, “Let’s not forget that this business is about hospitality – not big data and technology.”

Correct. So while it’s important to know your guests, the truth is that to some extent “nobody knows anything” so it’s best to try to please each guest before, during and after they come through the door.

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