Digital technology has changed the everyday life for people all over the world, from London to Paris and further beyond.
Knowing how much constantly improving technology is making people’s lives easier or enhancing them in some way, it’s little wonder that this is having an effect on the hospitality industry.
Due to people relying so much now on smartphones, tablets, laptops and other more advanced forms of technology, their habits have become digitally enhanced. As a result, the way they choose to do things or the habits they have are becoming more and more shaped by the gadgets and tools that they have access to.
For example, if someone wants to go on a holiday, it’s extremely rare that people will go into a physical travel agent. Instead, they whip out their phone and type to find the best holiday for the best rate on the internet. Similarly, when it comes to picking accommodation or finding out the best places to go in the area, people turn again to apps on their phones or have a search in Google for the best information.
This doesn’t just happen for people who are looking to travel on a budget, as digital consumer habits have become a large part of the luxury market too.
Driving these digital trends are millennial travellers, who have an appetite for unique adventures and experiences. It’s largely social media that has been at the forefront of this movement, particularly the likes of Instagram and Facebook. People are curating their own shareable content and inspiring their peers to do the same.
The difference between generations
As we said, millennials are the main force behind digital travel trends that are influencing the industry. Those from the baby-boomer generation and even before aren’t necessarily looking for the same experiences as those who are younger.
For example, millennials are less interested in going on holiday once a year to a timeshare and they are even less likely to want to go to the same place more than once.
This generation of travellers want to explore and head off the beaten track to have once in a lifetime experiences to really get into the fabric of where the place they’re visiting. Adventures are to be found in off the map places in America, India, Myanmar and Malawi – basically everyone is looking to almost outdo each other with their experiences and the inevitable photos showing how amazing all these places are.
Even when millennials go to big cities, like New York or London, they’re still interested in searching for the most unlikely places they can find. Bars and restaurants tucked down side streets, weird theatre and conceptual art performances and gigs in venues that people haven’t heard of – these are the things that this group of people are interested in. Why? Because this is what makes a good story and makes your holiday stand out from everyone else’s.
This is related to the point we’ve already made, as people are now looking for more personalised travel experiences – they want to be different from other people.
Using online and digital technology, it’s much easier now to book a trip that is distinctive and gives an authentic experience of being in a different city or country. The aim of most millennials now is to blend in, not to appear to be a tourist in anyway, shape or form.
In fact, one of the highest compliments a traveller can be paid now is to be asked for directions when they’re on holiday.
Due to the need to fit into the scenery and look like a native Londoner – or wherever else they are – millennial travellers are consistently looking for more inventive ways to book a trip online. It’s not often that you’ll see someone in their twenties or thirties booking a package holiday, as they like to explore, rather than stay in the one spot.
Say, for example, someone is going on a trip to America for two weeks, they might start off in Vegas, then travel to Palo Alto, then Carmel to LA, and back round to Big Sur or Yosemite. These are the kind of things that are much easier to book online, thanks to hire car websites, which allow different pick up and drop off locations for reasonable prices.
As we can see, the travel industry, including hotels, and hire places have become much more flexible with their check-in and pick-up times. The industry, as a whole, has had to bend itself to the whims and wants of the modern traveller, as these are people who are used to getting information and products and services whenever they want. Fulfilling these needs is paramount to the success of any business in this industry.
Millennials love documenting their experiences online, this doesn’t just mean that they record all the stuff they like however, they’re also more than happy to snap pictures or videos of things they hate or find disgusting.
Hotels in particular have had to become wary of this digital trend, as something unclean or below expected standards found in rooms or restaurants/bars can be on someone’s phone and uploaded to Twitter or Facebook in seconds. From one moment to another, you can have a negative review of your hotel circling the internet and it’s impossible to say whether or not it will go viral.
On the other hand, going above and beyond – even with small touches – could prompt a positive review, which is something that hotels should keep in mind. Offering guests a complimentary snack, or bottle of wine in their rooms are elements that will appease travellers and see them posting pictures and comments that give a glowing account of the accommodation. A free upgrade to a more luxurious room with a better view will also do a lot to impress millennial guests too.
You have to be aware, that everyone in the digital age has a smartphone, so this means that each person is a critic – it’s really up to you what kind of review they leave.
Make your staff a font of all knowledge, not just about the products and services that you offer, but also all the things there are to do outside the hotel.
Millennials are keen researchers and their holidays often begin long before they set off for their trip. They’re known for spending weeks deciding on where to go when they’re at their destination and looking at reviews and pictures of all the places in the surrounding areas to do activities, have meals and drinks, and other things.
However, it’s undeniable that the best reviews still come from word of mouth or from their peers. As such, people will not only read the opinions listed online for places, but they’ll also be keen to get face-to-face reviews from hotel staff.
You need to make sure that all the people working in the hotel have a good knowledge of the surrounding areas and can make recommendations to your guests. This is particularly important for the concierge and staff on reception. Encourage them to hand out or draw maps for people and to recommend places that are popular with locals.
Of course, they’ll probably still find their way to these places via Google Maps or through Tripadvisor reviews, but having staff who are well-versed in the area is a really easy way to get appreciation from a millennial traveller.