• Evelyne

Are You Ready for the Millennial Guest?

Updated: Oct 18, 2019

We’ve been discussing how millennials will change the workplace. This includes both in the way we boomers manage them, nurture their career growth and prepare them to take over our businesses.

But we must also be cognizant of the fact that not on only will millennials be 50% of our workforce by 2020, they will also be a significant proportion of our customers as well.

Indeed, it is estimated that, at least for the travel industry, millennials will dominate the guest demographic by 2020. If you’re not gearing up to provide the millennial guest what they want and need, you’ll miss out on this growing and valuable demographic.

As I indicated in earlier posts, this generation grew up traveling. Their world is much smaller than ours was at their age and much better connected.

I fondly remember my first trip alone to Europe in the early ‘80s. I was gone for 3 months and called home weekly, which required queuing at the post office to use the international phone booths.  I sent hundreds of postcards to friends and family from everywhere I went.  Bringing home pictures meant packing rolls of used film rolls into a lead lined bag (so they wouldn’t be ruined by the x-ray machine) and not actually seeing the images until they got developed at home. I meticulously organized them into a photo album, complete with captions so I didn’t have to go over it with everyone individually, and threw a themed party to celebrate my return with friends and share my experiences. (OK, millennials – quit laughing!!)

By contrast, this generation wouldn’t be caught dead without their smartphones.  They Skype and face-time with friends and family multiple times a day.  They share all their travel antics as they happen on social media for all to see.

As they increasingly take over the workforce and enter the economy in a meaningful way, they are taking their global comfort level, and their technology on the road. According to Jason Dorsey, Chief Strategy Officer at the Center for Generational Kinetics, by 2017 (a mere 2 years from now) millennials will outspend baby boomers on hotels.

What? How did that happen?

Up till now, we’ve been focused on boomers need for personal, face-to-face service. We’re watching them as they retire and have the time and money for discretionary travel spend. But a closer look at the marketplace trends confirms that we should also be preparing for the millennial onslaught.

A number of social factors should not be dismissed either. The rise of the sharing economy is certainly causing disruption, but also points to an important trend among this generation. They are willing to go out of the box to ensure they have experiences which includes making new and different friends from around the world.

Sites like Airbnb may give hoteliers heartburn, but to this generation, it is an opportunity to experience how locals live, to potentially meet new friends and, of course, save money.

They are incredibly transparent about themselves on social media and are not afraid of putting TMI out there. In return, they EXPECT you to use it to market to them in a personal and relevant way. Boomers think it’s creepy, to millennials it’s expected, efficient and pertinent.

At the HEDNA conference in Long Beach last week (and if you haven’t been to one lately, you’re missing one of the greatest venues for catching up with where hotels are going!) we had a lot of conversation about the increasing role of mobile. While the booking volumes are still relatively small compared with other channels, there is certainly no lack of technology available enabling use of mobile for:

  1. Pre-arrival communications

  2. Upsell opportunities

  3. Advance and on-property ancillary spending

  4. Mobile check-in

  5. In-house customer service

  6. Near field communications and marketing

The above is certainly not an exhaustive list… this conversation is really just the beginning of where we see mobile going.  The possibilities are endless.

This increasing generational change in our guest mix means changes for our industry that will affect everything from design to training to branding to services.

What are you doing to prepare? 

Are you ready?

This is the 3rd in a 3-part series about Millennials.  See also: Culture Shock – Millennials in the Workplace  and  Your Reputation ~~ Your Greatest Treasure

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