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Staying Ahead of Millennial Guest Expectations

With impressive buying power, evolving consumer behaviors and penchant for experiences, millennials have and will continue to have a major impact on the hospitality industry. After all, as of 2015 there were already eighty million millennials in America alone, armed with $200 billion in annual buying power. This generation is large, diverse (both in age and in preference) and quite simply, a segment that hoteliers cannot afford to ignore. 

In 2017, studies were released claiming that millennial families were likely to spend more and travel more than all other generational segments. Despite the predicted drop in travel spending across U.S. households, the 9.5 million millennial families were expected to spend 19% more on vacation and intend to travel 35% more than the previous year. As with any consumer segment, effectively marketing to millennials requires brands to understand what they value most in the products/services they invest in and find a way to appeal to those needs. This consideration becomes especially interesting when we look to the millennial consumer, as their buying habits and motivations differ from other generations, not to mention their wide range of ages. The oldest Millennials are now 38, while the youngest are just 18. 

Millennials are also less susceptible to traditional marketing and advertising than past generations. Only about 1% of millennials claim that a compelling ad influences them and 84% of millennials dont trust traditional advertising. Rather than taking the traditional route, millennial consumers show preferences for brands that are notably authentic, share the same values (social or otherwise) and who leverage digital to personalize their offering. According to studies, 62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. They expect brands to not only be on social networks, but to engage them. They want to know the personality behind a brand and feel as though that company is making a conscious effort to understand and connect with them as a consumer. 

An interview of over 1,300 millennials showcased that millennials are highly educated, career-driven, politically progressive and despite popular belief do indeed develop strong brand loyalty when presented with quality products and actively engaged by brands. But just what does this mean for hoteliers hoping to stay ahead of millennial expectations? 

For hoteliers, catering to the millennial traveler requires ongoing investment in enhanced guest experiences. Those hotels which create an offering that is somehow unique/boutique, personalized and guest value-driven are the hotels which are likely to establish long-term loyalty within this generational group. We explore three key ways that hoteliers should look to embrace the mobile traveler below. 

Go Digital

Hotels must begin their journey with a strong digital presence and continue that branding throughout a guests experience. If your hotels digital presence isnt up to par, particularly on a mobile device and via social media, youre likely missing out on Millennial travelers.

Lets take a moment to consider some statistics:

- 87% of millennials use between two and three tech devices at least once on a daily basis and look to social media for travel inspiration for their next adventure
- 46% book travel through a smartphone or tablet, meaning a strong mobile presence is also important
- 60% will upgrade their experience by purchasing extras like in-flight wi-fi
- 97% will post their experiences on social media
- 68% will remain loyal to a program that offers them the most rewards (cash/freebies, upgrades, discounts)

  • 49% take last minute vacations, meaning that offering last minute deals could be helpful in gaining business from millennial travelers

Millennials are, for lack of a better term, the Smartphone generation. Their experience with brands and service providers is largely defined by digital efficacy and convenience, as they look to mobile phones and smart devices to stay connected 24/7. Not only does most of their browsing happen on a mobile device, but that is often the medium in which they prefer to connect with brands. With this in mind, its more important than ever before for hotels to invest in creating a mobile-centric environment that presents millennial travelers with the opportunity to navigate mobile platforms and self-service technology.

Further to that, mobile technology provides hotels with the opportunity to access a wealth of guest data. Its well documented that millennial travelers are happy to exchange personal information in favor of personalized offers meaning hoteliers can finally tap into new data sources to truly curate a more relevant, guest-centric experience. This also prevents hoteliers from falling into the trap of data silos (data-based decisions developed from an isolated data source) as guest information is curated from a variety of sources.

Armed with the right, insight-driven PMS system, hoteliers can access comprehensive guest profiles that provide a breakdown of who each guest is, their stay information and booking history, social presence, and more. Using this, hotel staff can easily strengthen relationships with millennial guests and add value to their experience by anticipating their needs and expectations (before they even arrive on property).

Tapping into Social Stock

According to studies, nearly half (44%) of millennials are willing to promote products or services through social media in exchange for rewards. Why is this so relevant? Because 89% of millennials trust recommendations from friends and family more than claims by the brand and are 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites.

Social influence matters as becomes more apparent through the influx of social influencer campaigns across industries and hospitality is no exception. Utilizing guest profiles to identify prospective travelers with a strong social influence, allows hoteliers to search for and group together those guests who deserve special attention. Assigning a guest score, as Concilio offers with its Insight Engine, represents a guests potential value to your hotel.

Data Requires Context

Millennials, more than any other generation, have a high standard for authenticity and personalization. Marketing that feels off brand or inaccurate may not only be ineffective, it could go so far as to damage a reputation or create a lack of trust between the brand and potential consumer. Data is the key to guest personalization, but it cant unlock anything without context. In order to create a more personalized experience for millennial travelers, hoteliers require access to insight-driven, actionable data that empowers their staff to effectively connect on an individual basis with guests. After all, its one thing to understand your guests and quite another to be able to act on that data. With comprehensive profiles and suggested actions for personalized upsell/upgrade opportunities, any member of your staff has the tools they need to create a more relevant experience for each guest. And with interactive, on-demand views of all guest profile data and reservations, hotel management can quickly find key performance indicators for their property, effectively manage communications and respond to guest needs.

Millennials are an informed, value-driven group of travelers that, with the help of the right hotel business insights technology and guest service approach, can represent long-standing value to your hotel. By offering an experience that is digital, seamless, convenient and continuously personalized, your hotel will stand to establish millennial loyalty that translates into an exciting revenue opportunity, both now and in the future.

About the Author:

The capability to understand today’s hotel guest is a priority for Concilio Labs. Terri Miller and her team developed a way to leverage hotel and public data to help hoteliers provide exceptional relevant experiences to its guests. As CEO of Concilio Labs, Terri is responsible for driving the strategic and tactical growth of the company, while ensuring innovation is at the forefront when delivering solutions hoteliers truly need. Her wealth of experience in business, management, and technology guides all facets of the company’s success. Prior to Concilio Labs, Terri was the Vice President of MICROS eCommerce leading the creative, delivery, and technical departments. With a passion for delivering results, Terri continues to grow Concilio Labs with a focus on becoming the leader in developing and delivering smart hotel products and services.