Baby boomers were once the most coveted demographic group for the hospitality industry, but in recent years millennials have become the largest age group in the US with one of the strongest purchasing power. There are now over 83 million Americans in the millennial age range and they represent an enticing, yet challenging, effort for hotel marketers.
The average hotel booking experience is vastly different for millennials than for their older counterparts. This leads hospitality organizations to find new ways to market to this new generation as outdated techniques have fallen on deaf ears. Millennials are remarkably adept at using mobile technology, which allows them instant access to almost any information that exists. They have grown up in a culture where the expectation for on-demand services is constant. Savvy hotel marketers can use these traits to their advantage in order to present a compelling message to millennials.
Spontaneity over planning
On average, it has been reported that the booking window for a millennial traveler is 75 days, or significantly shorter than the 93-day period that was the standard for older generations. They are much more likely to book something on the fly when presented with a promotion. In all, approximately 20% of millennials browse the web exclusively on their mobile device, meaning hotel companies must have a user-friendly and streamlined mobile site in order to stay competitive.
Industry giants such as Starwood and Hilton have recently made a big push to enhance their mobile app experience, but companies don't have to break the bank on fancy app development to woo digitally savvy customers. What’s paramount is the experience and accessibility of the browsing and booking experiences through mobile websites; seamless, simple, and secure are the key attributes. Creating an easy to use, value-added mobile experience for the consumer is a way to stand out from the crowd and motivate customers to purchase.
Engaging, authentic experiences
Long gone are the days when a clean room and a competitive rate were all you needed to survive. Most millennials are looking for more when deciding where to book, and they typically don’t mind paying a premium for it. They are most interested in authentic experiences that make their stay unique. In order to influence booking decisions, these experiences and other unique amenities can be advertised in a more prominent manner than relying on low rates to draw in the consumer.
Business travel that isn’t only about work
According to a report from Expedia in 2013, travelers under 30 take 4.7 business trips per year and 4.2 leisure trips per year, which is more than those in either of the older age groups. During these trips, business travelers aren’t content with staying confined to their hotel room during down time. These customers are increasingly looking for hotels to provide opportunities to socialize and network. Hotels should engage with these customers by suggesting unique shared spaced or activities where they can relax and network.
The primacy of peer review
Due to the over-saturation of advertisements during their youth, millennials have become hardened and hard to reach, which leads them to trust peer reviews as a trusted voice. Younger consumers check an average of 10.2 sites before making their decision to book, leaving them with numerous opportunities to be influenced by both positive and negative information. This digital word-of-mouth is often the defining factor in a millennial making the decision to book a room, so hotel marketers must carefully monitor their social media presence and actively respond to both rave reviews and disappointing experiences.
Additionally, having your customers leave feedback on popular social review sites can be beneficial for your brand. In fact, these reviews can boost your SEO performance. Also, placing a badge from a trusted entity like TripAdvisor or Yelp on your website will make your brand more trustworthy to visitors who haven't had exposure to your brand.
While it is vital to have positive reviews about the quality of your guests' experiences, it’s important to remember that millennial habits are fluid. Having a multi-platform experience is necessary to reach such a lucrative consumer. The industry is quickly moving towards an integrated model and if hotels don’t evolve with the times then they will find themselves missing out on a huge profitable market.