Just when you’ve got used to thinking of millennials as the youthful, tech-addicted, attention-span-challenged ‘Me Generation’ they’ve gone and changed. Some of them – those who came of age at the turn of the millennium and thus defined their cohort – have finally become responsible and productive members of society. Grumpy old-timers may beg to differ, but the millennials are growing up.
This is clearly something that hoteliers must bear in mind, because with age and responsibility comes spending power. Once defined merely as the largest customer group, millennials are rapidly becoming the most financially influential, and one particular area where this will be felt is in business travel. Millennials now account for around one third of all spending on business flights, and this is set to exceed 50% within the next three years.
Hotels can expect to feel the effects of this new millennial maturity too. While many operators have already had millennials in mind in developing brands which appeal to a younger demographic, it will soon be essential to tweak the business product to match millennial preferences too. Tastes may become a little more refined, but certain underlying traits and preferences will still hold true.
The new ‘executive millennial’ will still value connectivity and communal work spaces, with elaborate coffee menus and a focus on healthy living, but they will also be in a position to pay for premium services which must be tailored to their demands. Studies suggest that just over half of all millennials who travel on business are willing to spend more if hotels can offer a seamless integrated service which simplifies the travel experience – especially if it involves technology. It is certainly not the case that millennials show little brand loyalty – but the kind of loyalty program that will be effective will be delivered via social media and will match their needs and values. Brands that are quick to recognize this and cater to the executive millennial will cash in at the expense of slower rivals.
One challenge for hoteliers might be the distinction between ‘professional’ and ‘genuine’. Professional marketing might so far have worked wonders in the business travel sector, but millennials are practically allergic to corporate messages and the hard sell. They will trust friends and family over any business trying to sell them something, and have a sixth sense that weeds out anything lacking authenticity. The approach that connected with millennials as tech-savvy youngsters must now provide the essence of communication with the mature millennial business traveler.
We’ve all heard that millennials are assertive, demanding, and self-confident, and this remains the case as they age. The sense of entitlement for which they are renowned might well be down to years of instant technological gratification – why wait when you can have everything right now? This means your marketing content must be more than just genuine; it must also be instant, offering actionable information. Your communication channels must be absolutely straightforward. Millennials aren’t going to wait for pages to load, and they aren’t going to make more clicks than absolutely necessary to book your services.
Content, too, will need careful attention. The traditional ‘brochure’ approach to travel, where experiences are packaged for convenient visitor consumption, may well be on the way out. The executive millennial wants to find real life, not to be sold off-the-peg life, so hotels will have to find ways of helping these travelers to make the most of their destination in the way the locals do. Social media will play a big part in this, but don’t forget that the evidence indicates millennials still rate email as the best way to engage with travel brands.
Of course, it’s not just business travel where maturing millennials are having a big effect. It’s across the board. One example stems from the fact that millennials are, on average, leaving the family home much later in life than earlier generations. When this is coupled with improved levels of health among their parents’ generation, there is increasing demand for family travel where the groups include multiple generations. Many hoteliers have been able to benefit from this particular trend, while cruise lines in particular have taken advantage. If you take one thing away from this trend, therefore, it is that millennials are getting older, and as they hit each new stage in life, there will be a host of opportunities available for anyone who can recognize their arrival and cater to their needs.
Next up, in twenty years, the revolution in ‘senior millennial’ retirement homes. It’s coming sooner than you think.
More information about Millennials * *here.