Millennials are a departure from the traditional traveler. They desire the new and novel, and crave the unexpected. They want meaningful travel experiences and demand the distinct and different. Research has shown that Millennials travel often, taking an average of five business trips each year and extending them into leisure vacations. And this audience is 23% more likely to travel abroad than their older counterparts. With Millennials in the U.S. on track to spend $1.4 trillion each year by 2020, this travel-loving market is likely to put a portion of that on travel. That’s why travel brands can’t afford to overlook this lucrative market. As a result, this is making many hotel brands revisit their hospitality marketing strategies, which have been geared toward traditional travelers. But marketing to Millennials demands a unique approach. Discover how to engage this market and get them to stay with a hotel brand.
Exploring a New Age in Travel and Travelers
According to Fast Company, global hotel chains are well aware that the times and the trends in travel are changing. Many brands built their reputations on providing the same, expected experience at every location around the world. This may have met the conventional needs of older travel markets, but it is completely at odds with freethinking, novelty-seeking Millennials.
“The trademark of the Boomer was that they wanted familiarity, safety, and comfort,” said Wolfgang Lindlbauer, chief discipline leader, global operations at Marriott International. “Marriott has leveraged its scale as a competitive advantage for many years, but what we’re finding is that the next-generation consumer wants the exact opposite of what we’re delivering.”
Now, hotel brands are seeing they need to evolve their cookie-cutter concepts. They must redefine their experience to appeal to the Millennial market in order to earn their business and loyalty.
Discovering the Travel Tastes of Millennials
So what do Millennials want in a hotel brand and a travel experience? The vacation values of Millennials were explored in depth in the recent e-book, “How Millennials Killed Travel Marketing As We Know It” by MDG Advertising. It described their approach to travel and trip planning, which are different than other markets. Their many distinctions include:
- Millennials want to experience local culture and are open to exploration.
- Their favorite souvenirs are the stories they can share about their vacations.
- They want hotels to provide a unique, personalized experience.
- With more Millennials joining the workforce, many are extending their business trips into personal leisure travel.
- Millennials are very cost conscious and persuaded by the best deals and promotions.
- Their travel decisions are often based on the recommendations of friends and family via social media.
- These travel decisions are often made spontaneously or at the last minute.
- Most forgo traditional travel agents in favor of planning trips on their mobile devices.
- Millennials’ dependence on digital devices affects every part of their lives, including how they plan, record, and share their travel experiences.
Reaching the Next Generation of Guests
With Millennials making up more and more of the travel market, hospitality marketing experts need to appeal to their preferences to bring in their business.TravelAgeWest.com reported that practically all of the major hospitality brands are responding to Millennials’ needs.
Many hotel brands are adding new features and services that appeal to Millennial tastes. Since Marriott expects that Millennials could comprise up to 50% of its guests by 2020, the conservative hotel brand is trying to transform its traditional image into a hot, hip, sexy brand to attract younger travelers. The brand did enormous market research and discovered that Millennials like it when travel brands have strong local connections, provide experiences unique to locations, and offer a sense of community.
That’s why Marriott has encouraged each of its properties to come up with creative concepts that give guests a taste of the local culture and community. This led their location in Phoenix, Arizona to create a cheese-and-charcuterie restaurant that focuses on artisan food producers, local craft beer makers, and small wine companies. In addition to providing a unique experience, the restaurant’s mission and menu promote sustainability and community, which appeal to Millennial interests.
Some major hospitality brands are taking a different approach. Rather than restructuring a brand’s offerings, they are creating new hotel brands with an experiential focus, along with the digital and social comforts craved by Millennials. For example, Radisson plans to bring its Radisson Red hotel chain to the U.S. in the next few years. This boutique offshoot of the global chain will offer guests extreme personalization through a single mobile app. This app will power a guest’s experience, from hotel check-in, to amenity arrangements, to stocking the in-room mini bar. This will meet young travelers’ needs for mobile convenience and digital access.
Engaging and Exciting Millennials Through Marketing
Whether a hotel brand chooses to adapt its features or develop a new branded concept, it’s essential that their hospitality marketing strategies reflect this new position to promote it to Millennials. Along with crafting the right strategy, the message needs to be marketed on the right social media and digital channels to reach the target audience.
In addition, travel brands need to maintain a strong online presence and constantly monitor their social media. Then, it will be possible to engage the many Millennials who rely on these social channels for most of their communication.
By showing younger travelers that a hotel brand responds to their needs, this audience will respond to the hotel’s efforts and develop a lasting loyalty.