Armed with smartphones and a fresh mindset, millennials travel very differently to their Generation X and baby boomer counterparts. No wonder hotels are rapidly coming up with novel ways to attract young business and leisure travellers.
#Hotels: How to create a millennial friendly stay
What would you think if you walked into a hotel and found no concierge desk in the reception area – or a food truck in the lobby instead of plush sofas?
It might sound strange to some but at hotels that target millennials it's more likely that the concierge will be found somewhere in an office, locked behind a computer, smartphone or tablet providing services to guests through social media. The food truck is no accident, either.
Already in 2015 44% of millennials chose to book hotel services via their phones.
What do millennial travellers want most?
Millennials are at the forefront of using smart technology to simplify lives and expect the hotels in which they stay to provide the tech they need. In fact, they rely so much on technology when they travel that the InterContinental Hotels Group labelled them ‘Invisible Travellers’ in its 2017 Trends Report, with everything done online – from booking a taxi to ordering food – instead of using the reception desk in the lobby.
For this reason hotel apps are becoming increasingly popular since they allow guests to access a range of services – such as checking in and out, viewing their bills in real time or ordering meals – from their phones. Already in 2015 44% of millennials chose to book hotel services via their phones (according to the InterContinental Hotels Group’s 2015 Trends Report), so having such an app becomes almost indispensable when catering for millennials.
Charging stations and fast Wi-Fi connectivity have become equally non-negotiable. According to Toni Stoeckl, global brand leader and vice president of the Marriott Group's Distinctive Select Brands, millennial guests bring an average of five electronic devices with them when they travel.
2. Information on social media
Having an online concierge that can assist guests via social media or an app isn’t the only way in which hotels are connecting with millennials.
The Marriot Group has gone as far as founding its own studio to create short films, TV shows and ‘webisodes’ to promote its brands over social media, the company’s vice president for global creative and content marketing David Beebe told The New York Times.
Some hotel apps, such as Radisson RED’s, allow guests to chat to other guests about food and entertainment in and around their hotels. These hip hotels' websites offer guests much, much more than just room bookings or the restaurant’s dinner menu.
Radisson Red’s website, for example, features articles on art, fashion and music as well as live Instagram and Twitter feeds with information and comments on their hotels and the cities in which they're situated.
It also has links to Spotify so visitors to their website can listen to curated music feeds while learning more about the establishments and deciding where to book their stay.
3. Personalised experiences
According to Millenialmarketing.com, millennials want to connect with their favourite brands on a personal and emotional level. For them a hotel and travelling experience have to be a personal (and highly Instagrammable) experience with unique rooms, restaurants and common areas that cater specifically for them.
This doesn’t just mean having an interesting website or individually designed bedrooms. The Laslett Hotel in London converted its traditional ground-floor lobby into something resembling a neighbourhood hangout. According to Ehotelier.com, it includes a curated British library, art-covered walls and a shop with collaborations by designers and artists.
Back at Radisson RED, this unique experience takes the form of locally sourced, street-food style meals and craft beer served at its rooftop restaurant, while meeting rooms are designed as 'event studios' where patrons can play games on the latest tech while buzzing on barista-brewed coffee.
The Marriot Group takes this concept a step further by hosting theme nights at its Residence Inns. Here, millennials are given a way to connect with local culture through live music in the lobbies, food trucks and even fire-pit nights – all this in the name of an authentic experience, and one that will hopefully make its way into guests’ highly active social media streams.
Millennial hotels are coming to Africa
Cape Town is keeping apace with this trend of millennial-focused hotels and Africa’s first Radisson RED hit the Mother City in September 2017. What sets this hotel apart from the group’s other brands is that it's aimed at millennials and channels what the company calls an 'ageless millennial mind-set'.
Located in the V&A Waterfront's trendy Silo District, next to the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), it offers high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.
In the rooms, technology such as large TVs, sound bars and extra charging points for electronic devices have been prioritised, while furniture such as picnic tables replaces the traditional desk-chair-and-coffee-station setup. Catering for the online generation, guests can use the hotel’s app to perform a variety of functions, from unlocking their room doors and streaming their favourite Netflix shows to engaging online with other guests.