How the hospitality industry is staying tuned in

Hotels are paying attention to what millennials are looking for in a stay


Sierra Thomsen


December 19, 2019

There isn’t a unanimous consensus on what qualifies a person as a “Millennial,” but most sources peg the age range roughly at 24-37 years old as of 2018. Millennials make up about 27% of the global population or about 2 billion people, giving them the title of the largest living generation in history by population.

As Millennials have reached adulthood, they’ve made a huge impact on global trends, from pushing for healthier work-life balance, caring less about salary and more about meaning in their careers, to prioritizing purchasing experiences over material things. They are also a generation who is very conscious of global warming, the environment, civil rights, and other social issues, seeking opportunities to support businesses who align with their moral initiatives.

The Millennial tidal wave does not leave the hospitality industry high and dry. A study commissioned by EventBrite found that when given a choice between spending their money on an experience or a material thing, a whopping 78% of Millennials chose the “experience” option. As a result, Millennials currently make up over a third of hotel guests and this is projected to hit 50% by 2020. With such a large population of Millennial travelers, hotels have not only updated their properties with amenities and features that Millennials prefer, but some have created entire brands catering to this generation.

"Don't be basic."

Millennial hotel brand loyalty has dropped 10% from their parents' generation. They care less about the name and more about what the hotel has to offer. And brands are responding. Moxy is Marriott’s solution to the Millennial movement, Best Western came out with Vib, Hilton created Canopy, Hyatt produced Hyatt Centric, Starwood generated their Element brand, and Radisson reacted with their Red hotels to name just a few.

What do these brands have in common? They capitalize on what Millennials value. They have a modern, sleek, boutique-style design at an affordable price, boast the latest technology, offer numerous community spaces for networking and socializing, promote local restaurants and culture, and practice sustainability, green initiatives, philanthropy and inclusion, even to guests of the four legged, furry nature.

"This hotel is on fleek."

The design and spaces created in these hotels are totally unique and “boutique-y.” There is no cookie cutting from hotel to hotel. They utilize bold, modern elements and sometimes even bring in local art to adorn the walls and spaces. The architecture includes several community space options where guests can work, mix, mingle, and network with fellow travelers.

Organizing local beer, wine, and food tastings is common practice and well attended. And gone are the days of going to the attached chain restaurant for brunch. Most of these hotels offer local, organic food options prepared by a chef savvy to regional culinary traditions and recipes. Millennials seek out opportunities to experience the local fanfare and flavors of their destination, and these hotels step up to the dinner plate.

Millennials are the first generation to have access to cell phones for much of their adolescence and are generally very tech savvy. So, it comes as little surprise that many Millennial-inspired hotels are taking advantage of the latest technical innovations; from adopting platforms that enable texting capabilities between staff and guests to giving guests the ability to check in digitally and unlock their room with their smartphone. Oh, and paying for Wifi? They can’t EVEN! Wifi is often free throughout the entire property.

"Pics or it didn't happen."

And good thing, too, because Millennials are tremendously active on social media. Hotels discovered if they want to reach Millennials, it makes sense to go to where they are. Sales and Marketing Managers have started leveraging Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms as a way to connect with and entice this adventure-seeking crowd to choose their property. Posts may feature some attractive young people enjoying the hotel’s amenities, picturesque views of the property, an artfully tantalizing meal served at the inhouse restaurant, or perhaps a deal or promotion guests should take advantage of.

"Because, duh."

While brand loyalty has dropped, loyalty to companies who contribute to social or environment efforts have risen to 87% amongst Millennials. They are purposeful about seeking out businesses, including hotels, who practice green initiatives and give back to their community or charities. Donating outdated furniture, staff time, food or money, utilizing solar panels, implementing water conservation efforts, outwardly supporting minority groups, or having pet-friendly policies are just a few ways hotels are trying to be kinder to their guests, community and environment.

While these hotels were designed with Millennials in mind, they feature amenities that people of every generation can appreciate and enjoy. So, whether you’re looking to get turnt with your squad or swerve adulting with your bae for the weekend, no need to get cray or extra, you can slay all day in a Millennial’s dream hotel. And if you don’t know what any of that means, it’s okay. Some 20-something out there does!

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