Tuesday, March 27th, 2018 | 13 min read
Millennials between the ages of 20 to 26 are projected to have $200 billion in spending in 2018. Understandably, many hotel brands hope that by attracting these increasingly affluent consumers now, they can turn them into lifelong customers. But how can hotel brands appeal to certain audiences without alienating others?
Scott Greenberg, owner and founder of Hotel EMC2, a Chicago hotel with an art-and-science theme, says he knows that if he develops a hotel that attracts young people, older consumers will show up. For hotels, It’s not so much about the age of consumers; it’s more about the behaviors associated with consumers.
The value of social connection and the desire for authenticity and refreshing customer experiences transcends generations. Therefore, as opposed to an age demographic, hotels are targeting a millennial mindset.
Fortunately, some hotel brands have excelled in creating millennial-minded customer experiences. Here are three prime examples.
According to Christopher Nassetta, President and CEO of Hilton Worldwide, the goal of Tru by Hilton is, “to reinvent the midscale market by providing guests with a contemporary, consistent and fresh experience at great value.”
The inaugural Tru by Hilton opened in Oklahoma City in May 2017, and its unique identity was clear immediately.
Rooms are priced at a reasonable $100 or less. This rate is made possible by the fact that rooms are 20 percent smaller than average and largely located outside of expensive cities.
Lobbies are designed with different sections including for playing (ping pong or foosball and large screen TV, surrounded by tiered seating), lounging (bar tables and mini-hammocks) and working (noise-canceling seating set into the walls).
The fourth section of the lobby is for eating. Guests munch on continental breakfast with some standards (bagels, cereal, etc.) and other offerings like make-your-own Greek yogurt parfaits with toppings like granola, sliced almonds, and M&Ms. Outside of breakfast time, guests can purchase snacks, meals, wine (in single-serve cups) and beer at the 24/7 Eat. & Sip. market.
And for those looking to shake off the delicious food, there are modern and specialized fitness centers. Screens in the gym have QR codes that guests can scan for nearby running routes, and feature workouts customizable for time, putting guests through circuits using TRX bands, physiotherapy balls, jump-up boxes, and other functional training equipment.
To infuse character and a sense of place into each Tru hotel, all properties feature a mural as the focal point of the lobby, designed specifically for that location with input from the general manager. For recommendations of things to do and places to eat, guests can check out the local engagement wall near the elevators, where team members and guests leave suggestions of their favorite restaurants, attractions and activities.
At time of writing, there are almost 40 Tru hotels, with a few dozen more in development. According to Christopher Nassetta, Hilton CEO, the brand will soon look to capitalize on Tru’s success. Its next foray into the midscale market will be a “hostel on steroids.” These new hotels will include trendy restaurant and bar areas, helping travelers feel like they’re connecting with their destination rather than observing it.
Evidently, Hilton is doubling down on its great efforts to capture those with a millennial mindset.
Hyatt introduced Hyatt Centric in January 2015, designed for what Hyatt calls “modern explorers”: multigenerational, sophisticated travelers who want to be in the heart of their destinations and who want their hotel to be connected to local culture.
At Hyatt Centric, members of staff are encouraged to share their favorite spots and hidden gems with guests eager to experience the local area. In addition, the hotel places local guides in rooms and on its website. It also highlights local art and food, while some properties offer area tours led by hotel managers.
On social, guests and locals alike share their adventures and favorite spots using the hashtag #HyattCentricExplorer.
These views 👏🏼 We’ve partnered with Utah native, @logandavidson to explore the best that Park City has to offer. Swipe through & check out our Instagram Story for his favorite views. 📷 : @logandavidson #HyattCentricExplorer #ParkCity #Utah #Winter #drone #dronestagram #dronesdaily
A post shared by Hyatt Centric (@hyattcentric) on
As with most millennial-minded hotels, there’s free Wi-Fi, and dining is a more casual affair. Room service is tailored for on-the-go guests looking to explore the area. Gone is the formal in-room, on-the-bed presentation; guests are instead offered a “knock ‘n’ drop” service in an environmentally-friendly paper bag.
Furthermore, Hyatt Centric launched a “Restaurant to Go” service in which guests could order from local restaurants. The brand formed a pilot program with Grubhub to provide delivery, initially at its hotels in Miami, Park City and Long Beach, but now in other locations like San Francisco and New York.
And it appears that international expansion is on the agenda: in late 2017 Hyatt Centric debuted two new hotels in France and Spain. Its French hotel, Hyatt Centric La Rosière, is the first Hyatt ski resort in Europe. Unsurprisingly, the views are breathtaking.
Additional hotels are scheduled to open in Japan and Peru, indicating that Hyatt Centric is keen to connect with modern explorers on a global basis.
Described by global brand director Vicki Poulos as “a boutique hotel that has the social heart of a hostel,” Moxy Hotels represents Marriott’s effort to capture millennial-minded consumers.
In general, Moxy has a more whimsical brand than the more traditional Marriott. The general manager is dubbed the “Captain”, while a complimentary cocktail is issued to guests upon check-in.
A post shared by Moxy Times Square (@moxytimessquare) on
To keep rates down, Moxy’s rooms are small, averaging only 183 square feet. But its lounges, bars and public spaces are large and encourage a social atmosphere where guests can mingle and play board games with friends and strangers.
Many rooms have luxurious king beds, and come with spacious rainfall showers and minimalist furniture, including custom-made fold-up tables and chairs that hang on wall pegs rather than wasting square footage.
Other hotel amenities include a 24-hour fitness center and meeting rooms with writeable walls.
Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson has described the Moxy brand as, “internal disruption.” Indeed, it appears disruption is key to continued success: next generation travelers are expected to account for more than 60% of Marriott’s business within the next four years.
Traditional hotel brands have realized that today’s consumers are vastly different. They crave authentic experiences, social connectivity, and a sense of adventure.
Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott have not repackaged legacy sub-brands. Instead, they have crafted new hotel brands to meet the needs of the modern traveler.
As proven by those brands, a customer-first approach is the key to success.
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