Although there are a couple of different brackets of ages and people who are considered to be millennials, when it comes to travelling it’s generally accepted that this is anyone who was born between 1980 and 1995.
Why is this? Quite simply it’s because these are the people for whom travel has always been possible and now it’s becoming more and more accessible.
Millennials were the first people to be born into a digital world, from the first mobile telephones in the 90s – which were essentially portable cordless phones – to today’s smartphones.
This means that millennials aren’t just visitors to places anymore, now they’re savvy travellers who are interested in looking for unique places to go to and special experiences to have at affordable prices.
Hotels are a big part of this interest and millennials are now looking for more from the places that they stay.
As a result of millennials being the largest group of people who travel the world and stay in different and intriguing accommodation, the hospitality industry is being driven by millennials and the things that they look for when they’re on holiday.
Millennials are your present and future guests
When people say that millennials are the future, they should really be saying that they’re going to be an extension of the present because they’re already here and already influencing the choices and trends of industries all over the world.
They are the main thrust of most markets because they’re the ones who spend money on things that they enjoy. This is not just for their own benefit and to make their lives enriched, but it’s also because they strive to be as interesting as their peers, if not more so.
Millennials are also interested in travelling more than any other group of people and they’re likely to forsake things like having a mortgage for the benefit of journeying far away to have exciting life experiences.
As such, they’re beginning to travel further away than any other group before them – and particularly more than the Baby Boomer generation.
According to research from Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, around half of all travellers to the US will be millennials by 2025. This is not to say that they’re not visiting America in their droves right now, because they are.
In fact, Accom News has reported that millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly three million people to record a total of 79 million people worldwide.
Of course, it’s expected for this gap to continue to increase because Baby Boomers are constantly aging, whereas new millennials are being born every day.
This is not to say that every generation will be a millennial from now on, that’s not likely, but this group of people looks set to stay for the time being.
Having the knowledge that the millennial market is going to continue to grow, it makes sense for hotels to make sure that they are reaching out to this audience now, so that it can continue to grow and develop with the trends that they are responsible for.
It might seem like a big ask to invest a lot of money in technology for the benefit of 20 to 30-somethings, but the reality is that it’ll probably pay for itself. The return on investment is going to be extensive, if you put in the effort early enough.
What they actually want
Millennials look for highly personal experiences and unique touches in everything that they do – which is largely thanks to social media.
Although this might sound strange, the truth is that social media pages allow each person to build their own profile to their specific tastes. They can share anything that they like and show people their interests as and when they want and it is now a fully fledged part of the rest of their lives.
Take for example websites like Not On The High Street, the point of this is to show people things that they won’t be able to get anywhere else. It creates the idea that they’re going to be getting something special and – usually – handmade.
Not only this, but these websites often include extra touches like adding an inscription or something similar. So, although several people might have the same wine glasses or handbag, it’s never going to be exactly identical to one that someone else buys.
It’s the same even with supermarkets now, as you can save your preferences when you go grocery shopping online, and when you sign in, it’ll make suggestions based on your choices.
Everything is done to try to give each person an individual experience and it’s the same with hotels and holidays.
Millennials aren’t as interested in package deal holidays, or all-inclusive getaways like previous generations. They’re much more fond of going off the beaten track and getting a bit lost – potentially because they know that Google Maps will sort them out.
But mostly, it’s about having an authentic experience when they’re in a new place. They don’t want to go home and tell their friends and family that they went into all the same shops that they could find everywhere, they want to discover a unique boutique, or bookshop, or a beautiful little taverna that sells locally made wine.
As a hotelier, the emphasis is on you to fulfill this demand, by employing people who know about the local area and are passionate about it. Chefs and wait staff should know everything about local food and it’s recommended you serve something that your guests won’t have heard of.
The same goes for the staff at the reception desk, encourage them to tell your guests about places that tourists can’t normally find on their own. A hand-drawn map never does any harm either.
Technology is important
Gone are the days of charging guests for your Wi-Fi – while people from the Baby Boomer generation won’t mind so much, a millennial won’t be pleased with this at all.
Wi-Fi is an expected part of life and it won’t do for you to try to pretend that it isn’t, so make sure that the internet connection is free and easily accessible.
You might want to look into printing the password on the back of the key card, making it easy for people to find, and so they don’t have to ask you for it more than once.
Speaking of key cards, many hotels are now looking into the logistics of key apps for use on smartphones. There are some hotels around the world that are already doing this and it’s proving hugely popular with millennials.
You could do the same thing with the lights in the room too – anything that allows them to use something wirelessly instead of something physical will be a big plus.
Launching technology doesn’t just need to be for the benefit of the guest, as you can introduce things like check-in via smartphone apps. These are great for the guest because they’re using something digital and modern, but really, it’s great for the staff too, as it saves a lot of queues and stress when it’s very busy.