Millennials now make up the largest age demographic with the largest disposable income. They are classified as people born generally from 1981-1996. Millennials are prioritizing travelling over any other generation which proposes a challenging and exciting opportunity for hoteliers and marketers. Today, we’ll take a look at their consumer characteristics, the impact of COVID-19, and what millennial travellers look for in a hotel.
Millennial consumer behaviours
Millennials are characterized as the generation being brought up on technology. Their growth coincided with the social media age meaning that not only does social media influence their every day buying decisions, but they also document and record their everyday lives to share with the rest of the world. 56% of millennial travellers tend to post on social media while on holiday, coining the term “digital generation”.
This cycle of influence is how social media marketing has grown into the power house it is today. Consumers may see a product used by someone on social media, they, in turn, purchase the product and post about it, this in turn, may influence someone else to purchase it and so forth. Understanding this is key for hotel marketers to appeal to their preferences because millennials are also much more aware when they are being “marketed” to.
Millennial travellers and COVID-19
With vaccines available and the end of COVID-19 in sight, the hotel industry will start to recover with travel, hopefully, becoming a reality in the near future. A study found that millennials consistently answered that they are most willing to travel sooner and less risk-averse after the pandemic compared to Gen X and boomers.
Millennials, more than any other demographic, value experiences over possessions. With this generation ready and willing to travel as soon as possible, hoteliers should create appealing marketing based on what millennial travelers are looking for. Continue reading to find out what are a few of the things millennials are most attracted to when booking accommodation.
Top 3 things millennial travellers look for in a hotel
Tech savvy hotels
Strong wifi and charging stations are no longer a “pleasant surprise” for millennial travellers – it becomes an expectation. With the numerous gadgets they travel with, along with sharing stories, snaps or pictures to let their network know what they’re up to, you need to ensure the wifi is strong and plug stations are bountiful.
Millennials also see value in how easy the logistics part of traveling is. How easy was it to book? Was it easy to contact the hotel if they needed pre-trip assistance? Was someone available instantly on live-chat or did they have to wait 5 business days for someone to respond to a support email (don’t even think about waiting on hold on the phone).
50% of millennials said that they prefer instant messaging customer support rather than face-to-face contact. Was checking in a breeze? Could they simply self check-in by scanning their QR code or did they have to queue in line at the front desk and wait for a physical key. Does the hotel have a mobile app that has all of their booking information, receipts, wifi passwords and relevant promotions that can handle all the communication in one simple place? Or do they have to call down to the front-desk every time they have a question? Upgrade these communication pieces during the guest journey for a seamless experience and millennials will respond positively.
Strong social media presence
Social media plays a huge part in where millennials choose to travel: from location to accommodation. 30% of millennials stated that collecting travel images and building mood boards (Pinterest) happen to be a favourite past time. Additionally, 40% of millennial travellers say that they wish to be more like the idealized versions of themselves that they create on their social media platforms. It’s all about that #inspo, #aesthetic and #mood that they pursue. Millennial travellers want to experience a hotel that they can proudly share with their online communities in the form of photos, videos and stories. Hotels have been developed, renovated and launched around this need of: is it “instagrammable”?
Influencer marketing has become such a lucrative channel in this segment. Influencers with massive followings feature an image, story, or vlog of them staying at a beautiful, photogenic hotel while having the best time is a promotional tactic many modern hotels are employing. Now take this formula and wash, rinse, and repeat. The more this segment of consumers keep seeing their favourite influencers staying at certain hotels (consciously or subconsciously), the more likely they are to keep them in mind while planning for future travel. Think about the last few times you’ve stayed at a hotel, how did you hear (or see) about it? Capitalizing on this type of marketing by knowing what influencers to use for what specific target millennial segment you want staying at your hotel is the winning formula.
When millennials are conducting research on where to stay, they have all this information at their fingertips. They say that the millennial generation is the least brand loyal compared to past generations because there is so much more information available to impact their purchasing decision than ever before. Sources range from OTA websites, brand social media, influencers and blogs, youtube videos, geotags, metasearch and online travel forums – and that’s just scratching the surface.
52% of millennial travellers consider suggestions and reviews left on review sites, blogs and travel forums. Managing and optimizing all these outlets is a growing need within organizations and is worth the investment as we continue to see the rise of digital and social media marketing. Millennials were shown to research way more than non-millennials, using on average 5.1 sources before booking.
Experiences over luxury
A common thread among the millennial generation is that they place a high emphasis on experiences and creating memories. 60% of millennial travellers feel that an authentic culture is the most important part of a travel experience rather than staying at the fanciest hotel. This is also significant to keep in mind when trying to develop a rewards or loyalty program at your hotel. Millennials are much more attracted to things like discounts and flexibility than things like upgraded rooms. Also be sure to have suggestions for local attractions, activities like hikes or brewery tours, and best local restaurants on hand for your millennial guests.
With millennials having the heaviest influence on travel and the first age group ready to travel post-COVID, it’s a great way to revamp your marketing and tech stack if you haven’t already. Another great resource is to simply ask your friends, family and colleagues that are in that age group what they like and expect and wish to see when traveling. These insights are key in understanding what drives their purchasing decisions and will help you unlock the true earning potential of your hotel for this segment.