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Millennial Travelers

Millennials Seek the Often-Elusive Unique Guest Experience

According to speakers at the recent Seattle Hospitality on the Horizon event, Millennial travelers will soon “be in the driver seat” when it comes to hoteliers meeting their needs. Rather than focusing on the acquisition of things, this demographic has a different need: they want truly authentic experiences from hotel brands.

This shift into today’s “experience economy” comes with both challenges and opportunities for hoteliers. For example, in terms of challenges, most Millennials seek travel recommendations from their peers. In addition, the idea of “a unique experience” changes very rapidly based on fast-moving trends that are often cultivated through social media.

When it comes to opportunities, Millennials seek information from a mobile environment. This is pushing many hoteliers to enhance their brands in this arena. For example, Hilton Hotels & Resorts recently launched a mobile campaign featuring an interactive 360° video that takes the viewer on a virtual vacation.

Though the core challenge will be determining where the next unique experience will be. At one time Austin, Texas, was a prime destination for all things hip and cool. However, due to the increasing popularity of South by Southwest, this once popular destination for hipsters across the planet has become generic to some. The same could be said about Nashville and other U.S. cities that have thriving music scenes.

Hotel brands need to be on the forefront of the next cool destination. Being ahead of the curve when it comes to Millennial traveler trends is not an easy task. It also comes with the risk of investing in properties in cities that may not end up being cultural destinations for young people.

Providing the “experience of place” is the new thing in the hotel arena. Hopefully, today’s brands can develop the right strategies to entice Millennials with lasting, unique experiences. This will take the combination of the right guest-pleasing technologies with the core tenet of real estate success: location, location, location.

Future Considerations for Appealing to the Millennial Traveler

Over the last several weeks, we have been highlighting a series of posts that focus on catering to the next generation of traveler: the Millennial. From pre-stay considerations and beyond, many hotel brands are developing new strategies for capturing the brand loyalty of this connected and hyper-social travel.

Now, let’s focus on what the future should look like for the Millennial traveler. Moving forward, travel planning will incorporate several key features important to this segment of travelers. This will include digital check-in and checkout, and intelligent voice-based searches that understand the rules of the today’s web searching capabilities.

We call it a “Travel Discovery Engine” or TDE. Using a TDE, guests will begin their vacation discovery and planning process by asking questions that sound more like interactions with a human travel agent. They might make a statement like “I’m looking to travel from Washington, D.C. to Seattle, Washington on business and plan to leave on the 12th and return on the 19th and need to keep the cost under $5,000.” The TDE would respond by asking some clarifying questions such as the type of transpiration and hotel, and if the traveler would like the prospective hotels arranged by community-sourced ratings.

Millennials’ expectations are formed inside and outside of the hospitality industry, and technologies like this are already in the mainstream. For example, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Voice Search create expectations based on voice searches being easier, especially on smart phones and tablets.

By considering the future of travel search today and incorporating this thinking into its planning, a hotelier can be better prepared for the switch to voice-driven travel planning and vacation discovery in the near future.

Millennials will continue to aggressively adopt new and disruptive innovations long before the traditional traveler. Hotel brands will always be challenged to procure and implement the most cutting-edge innovations. Though by staying ahead of the curve, it will be possible to win long-term brand loyalty from this unique traveler.


Pre-Stay Considerations for the Millennial Hotel Guest

As we previously highlighted, today’s Millennial Guest is digitally focused, highly connected and has very high expectations when it comes to innovation.

Catering to this type of traveler takes a unique approach. That’s why we will be highlighting new strategies from booking to check-out that will help hoteliers maximize opportunities with this discerning demographic.

In this post we discuss the importance of pre-stay consideration.

The typical hotel loyalty program does little to tailor offers that increase bookings with Millennials, or for the traditional traveler for that matter. By capturing data from pre-stay interactions and combining it with past travel, a hotelier can develop a Unified Guest View that leads to increases of close to 50 percent in bookings form direct digital marketing campaigns.

In addition, these types of highly personalized campaigns resonate very well with Millennials, who seek customized interactions with brands. More than 45 percent of all travel plans begin on a mobile device and end on a desktop. As such, Millennials will respond more favorably – and be influenced to book – when they have a digital experience that feels like dealing with a virtual travel agent, as opposed to a business-centric application.

Once a Millennial books his or her travel, a digitally aware hotel brand then has an opportunity to increase revenue along with the guest satisfaction.

By utilizing data in the Unified Guest View, a brand can offer ground transportation, suggest places to eat, play and shop, and allow the guest to order room service. Providing a comprehensive menu of customized opportunities allows hotels to increase add-on revenue and ensure that guests aren’t using an app outside of the brand.

Much like how e-commerce sites are pressured to minimize shopping cart abandonment issues, hotels are faced with the same challenge when Millennials are booking their travel. The key is to leverage the right data, create customized offerings and be fully engaged with the Millennial demographic of traveler at all times.


Inside the Mind of the Millennial Hotel Guest

Today’s Millennial Guest is young, digitally focused and highly connected. As such, their expectations for travel are already set as they move through a world full of rapid interactions on mobile devices used to streamline the smallest of tasks in their lives.

The Millennial Guest is also very advanced in using the most cutting-edge social mobility apps and continues to seek new mobile experiences, while quickly retreating from more mature social networks like Facebook. Simply put, they are the early adopters and shape the future development of innovation.

As such, they have high expectations from large hotel brands when it comes to mobility. Millennial Guests demand frictionless access to anything, anywhere, at any time, and quickly abandon experiences where their expectations are not met. In the offline world, these expectations are equally high of all service providers.

Millennial Guests look for and expect digital interactions that share their unique approaches to discovery, planning and acting on intent.

Meanwhile, hoteliers continue to make significant investments to provide Millennial Guests an experience that both delights and creates loyalty. However, in general, the time-to-market for apps is not meeting the expectation of Millennial Guests who are accustomed to seeing new features added in rapid succession rather than receiving a completed app on the first release.

By adjusting expectations and working on initiatives in parallel, apps can be released to Millennial Guests in shorter timeframes, while preserving the overall goal of providing an app that addresses the entire stay-cycle. And, by using behavioral analytics, apps can be modified employing user interaction to augment feature priorities that produce higher utilization with each successive release.

Staying one-step-ahead of the Millennial Guest is no easy task. A hotel brand needs to provide a superior digital experience coupled with high touch service. This will help a hotel win in the battle to capture this audience and in the process, they will learn how to better target Millennial Guests with offers on which they will take action, and generate additional incremental revenue in the process, across the entire stay-cycle.