Millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the nation’s largest demographic, and while we may be tired of hearing how this group influences everything they touch, the impact of how millennials travel and their impact on the industry as a whole ultimately can’t be denied.
Instead of going the traditional route of calling a hotel chain and booking a room, millennials seek out “authentic” travel experiences that allow them to “live like a local." The success of home sharing apps like VRBO and Airbnb are a testament to this sentiment. Why would you want to stay in a cold, impersonal hotel chain room, when you can couch surf in a Parisian loft for 15 euros a night near the heart of the Rue de Menilmontant?
The hotel industry has reacted to the uptick of home sharing by designing and catering directly to this travel-heavy demographic. Moxy by Marriott and Aloft hotels are transparent in their marketing approach, explicitly positioning themselves as the “cool, tech-savvy” alternative to their stuffier older siblings. These new diffusion hotel lines offer services like Emoji “text it, get it” (TiGi) room-service and elevators designed to look like photo booths.
Why so experiential? Millennials place more value on experiences than they do on “stuff”. Purchase priority has shifted from homes and cars, which millennials see as further out of reach, to weekend festivals, backpacking trips through Europe and impulse purchase weekend trips to Iceland. In fact, a recent survey by TopDeck Travel (a group travel provider) revealed that experiencing a new culture (86 percent) and eating local foods (69 percent) were among the top reasons for incentivizing millennials to travel. Business Insider has even placed a name on the movement, the “Experience Economy."
The way millennials approach trip planning and trip taking has also shifted. Today, the whole of the experience has become showing off. “Here’s where I’m going next weekend," might get posted to Facebook or as a sentiment that is expressed in 140 characters on Twitter. “Here’s where I am RIGHT NOW," might be conveyed via a jealousy inducing Corona-esque beachfront photo posted to Instagram or Snapchat. The trip begins way before it even occurs and extends way past its end.
So what does this tide turn mean for the average hospitality client? Does adaptation have to come with a hefty price tag? No.
Entry point pricing often proves to be a successful method for getting the millennial to “try” a brand. The $200 pressed duck (a classic favorite) can still stay on the menu, but enticing alternatives could come as prix fixe menus, tasting menus, happy hour offerings with lower price point menu items or limited local craft beer flights. The millennial consumer is a savvy one, so bring your creativity! In developing the “experiential” aspect, offer some experiences that make this guest feel special. Dining at the chef’s table, table side mixology, or travel and room packages inclusive of “insider access” to local events are some ideas.
While it may not be possible to setup a selfie station, a little creativity does go a long way, and soon enough, your guest will hopefully be #LovingLifeToTheFullest. What does your brand do to reel in the millennial traveler? Tweet us your ideas @DEVENEYnola using the #DEVchat hashtag.