Millennials are taking over as brands are beginning to adapt their strategies and hotels are no exception, as this new group of consumers prefer to stay in places that are individual and break out from the mould.
The desire for high quality products or services that are unique and different from so many other standardised options is similar to the role that hipsters have played on local economy over the past few years.
In 2014, The Washington Post wrote an article entitled ‘In Defence of Hipsters’, which did exactly as it said, although it did make a few customary punching remarks about the way hipsters dress. However, the main focus of the article stipulated that although there is a snobby attitude associated with hipsters and their need for artisan food and beverages, in reality they are to be thanked for championing local producers and independent businesses.
Millennials do this in much the same way with their choices of hotels, they choose to pick somewhere in an interesting location, perhaps with a quirky history and interior design that is begging to be posted on Instagram.
The reality is that experiences such as staying in hotels are there to be broadcasted on social media and through digital technology, at least as far as millennials are concerned.
So, with this in mind, what are the some of the best ways that hotels can design their hotels to make sure that they are a hashtagging delight for a millennial audience?
First stop, technology
Millennials love technology, they love the idea that a smartphone or a tablet can do something for them, for example dim the lights in a bedroom. This gives millennials a sense of control and it makes for an excellent tweet or two as well.
However, hotels need to be aware that those who are offering check-ins via an iPad, free Wi-Fi or having an iPhone/iPad dock in the room are not thinking far enough into the future. While all of these things will impress the generation before millennials (if we take the millennial age group to be between 18-29 years old), millennials themselves see these objects as prerequisites.
To a millennial, these are tools that are synonymous with everyday life and one of the reasons for choosing a quirky and modern hotel is to be offered something that you wouldn’t have in your normal living situation.
What millennials expect is for the whole room to connect, so a phone should connect to the TV and the TV should connect to the lights and the shoulder bone should connect to the neck bone…
As using a smartphone to open a hotel bedroom instead of a key is already a reality, hotels are going to have to constantly up their game and stay abreast of technology trends to impress the new digital generation.
In various hotel chains, guests can download an app to their smartphone, register and enjoy a mobile keyless entry, so it’s something to think about.
As we alluded to previously, the new digital generation are not only interested in technology itself, they are also barmy about the things they can do with it. So following they are keen to share, retweet, Vine, like and comment about practically everything they are doing.
If a millennial checks into a hotel that has mobile keyless entry, you can be certain that someone will be taking a picture of it and posting about how #amazing it is.
In general, the digital generation will be keen to document most of their trip, if not the trip in its entirety. This isn’t just a great way for people to show their friends how much fun they’re having, it also gives them a voice to provide a hotel and its experiences with an on-location, realtime review.
Hotels need to understand that when they’re thinking about the design of their rooms, menus and the accessories they buy, when it comes to millennials if something hasn’t been documented, oftentimes they’ll feel that it might as well not have happened.
A true example of appealing to the millennial audience is the Soi Wave House Hotel in Mallorca in Spain, which in 2013, became the world’s first Twitter hotel. The hotel has rooms and decor that are Twitter-themed and they actively encourage their guests to hashtag their way through their stay.
Go green and local
As may have become apparent by all the social media chat, appearances are important to the digital generation. Often, there might not be any substance behind the choice, but the truth is that behind these products there are often high quality and hard working people who have produced them.
When we say go green, we don’t necessarily mean that millennials are looking for a premium recycling policy in hotels – although some might be looking for exactly that. Instead, those of the digital generation tend to be more interested in cutting down the length of supply chain from where their product came from to how long it took to get in front of them. This is most commonly occurring in restaurants and bars, where someone might ask for a recommendation on a local ale, gin or if the meat to make the burger is locally produced
However, upcycling is also incredibly important to the millennial generation and the good news is that it is easy and can be fairly cheap for a hotel to upcycle its furniture. A millennial will look with approval at a shabby old armchair or an antiqued, duck-egg blue table and ponder on its history. Was it donated? Perhaps it was liberated from an abandoned farmhouse and made fit for purpose once again.
Whatever the case, upcycled furniture with a story is an instant way to build intrigue and interest in a hotel. And yes, it is extremely likely that there will be pictures on Facebook of how amazing the Belfast sinks in the bathroom are due to their rustic aesthetic.
These touches give a hotel green credentials as they support the local community and are in sharp contrast to mass-produced furniture, which is diametrically opposed to the millennial’s preferences.
The rise of Boutique
If there’s one thing that millennials love, then it’s something that describes itself as boutique – and this isn’t just reserved for hotels. Boutique festivals are on the rise too, but what is it that makes these so popular?
Using a word like boutique makes something sound like it has been lovingly built and crafted for display (hence justifying the extra expense). Boutique can also introduce a touch of exclusivity to proceedings, for although the millennial enjoys sharing their experiences, they also enjoy creating an air of mystery around themselves.
The digital generation enjoy experiences that make them feel special, which is another reason why its members search for unique qualities in products and services, which in this instance is a boutique hotel.
Giving her opinion on what a boutique hotel really is CEO of Commune Hotels, Niki Leondakis has said: “A true boutique has very specific local relevance and layer upon layer of emotional relevance; not just to the hotel but the people who work there.”
So there you have it, millennials are looking for a hotel that has relevance to its local community and a passion that filters from its design all the way down to its staff. And honestly, who can blame them? When it comes to hotels, high standards of excellence are what the entire industry is about, whether you call it boutique or otherwise.