People have a lot to say about Millennials—some of it flattering, some of it less so. But whatever your opinion about Generation Y (born in the ’80s and ’90s) they’re one that cannot be ignored by marketers in any industry. Now outnumbering baby boomers, and aging into financial independence, Millennials have become a powerful cohort in the consumer landscape. In fact, it is projected they will collectively spend 1.4 trillion dollars every year, by 2020. Considering Millennials have a greater desire to travel than any other generation, you can bet a significant chunk of that spending will find its way into the hospitality industry. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to start thinking about ways you can begin targeting what has been dubbed the ‘Wanderlust Generation,’ to capitalize on this powerful demographic.
What Millennials Want
So what are Millennials looking for in a vacation? When it comes to trip-planning, this generation prioritizes authentic experiences, unique spaces and a social atmosphere. Luckily for you, this places independent and boutique hotels at a distinct advantage!
Authenticity >> Studies show that more than anything else, traveling Millennials are in pursuit of an immersive cultural experience. This generation wants to eat authentic cuisine, explore colorful neighborhoods and enjoy new activities. Cater to this appetite for authenticity by highlighting your community’s character and offering suggestions for the unique local businesses that will stand out in your guests’ memories (and on their social media feeds).
Unique Spaces >> In the past, chain hotels were frequented by guests for their consistency. It was a comfort to know exactly what to expect from a property regardless of location. Now that potential guests have access to so much information online (including user reviews and virtual tours) it’s much easier to ensure quality. As a result, Millennials are able to focus on seeking out unique properties instead. Make sure to emphasize your hotel’s individuality on your website and OTA profiles in order to appeal to this generation.
Social Atmosphere >> Another significant change from previous generations is a desire for communal areas and social events. Millennials are spending less time in their rooms and looking for shared spaces to work, relax and socialize. Hotels are forgoing traditional lobbies for an aesthetic more closely resembling a living room or your favorite coffee shop. Consider creating spaces at your property where guests can work on their laptops, read books and play board games.
Marketing to Millennials
As an independent hotel, you have a lot to offer to the Millennial generation. But that doesn’t mean much if you’re not marketing to them effectively. Generation Y interacts with brands and businesses in a very different way than previous generations. To maximize Millennial clientele, make sure your marketing is mobile-friendly, social media heavy, and emphasizes engagement over selling.
Mobile >> 49% of Millennials use their smartphones to plan and book vacations, and most don’t bother trying to navigate a site that isn’t designed for mobile devices. We’ve been talking about the importance of mobile-friendly sites and booking engines for ages. With Millennials beginning to dominate the consumer market, this advice is only becoming more relevant and necessary. If you haven’t made this change yet, it’s officially time.
Social Media >> Millennials are known for their avid use of social media. If you want to get their attention you need to be targeting them where they are, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Snapchat. Your strategy for these platforms should include plans for your own content (like choosing images that evoke #travelinspo) as well as campaigns to encourage guests to share their own experiences. Consider partnering with social media ‘influencers’ (whom Millennials trust significantly over traditional advertising) by offering complimentary stays or perks for sharing their experience online.
Engagement >> The use of social media has changed the way Millennials expect to interact with businesses. Marketing campaigns that feel too corporate will completely miss their mark. This generation wants personalized interaction and two-way communication with their favorite brands. It’s a good idea to share, comment and engage with guests regularly on all your social media platforms and inspire loyalty with promotional campaigns and insider info.
The Millennial generation has become an exceedingly important group of consumers. Due to their size and growing spending power, Generation Y has changed the way brands do business across all industries. Start thinking about ways your property can target Millennials and capitalize on this generation of travelers.