Eye on Hospitality: Hotels Woo Millennial Travelers

Eye on Hospitality: Hotels Woo Millennial Travelers

By Paul Schlienz

If you’re in the hospitality business, you want the Millennial dollar. Restaurants are moving heaven and earth to appeal to this generation born between approximately 1981 to 2002, and so are hotels.

“If we attract young people, old people will show up,” said Scott Greenberg, president and chief executive of Smashotels, a Chicago area hospitality management. “But if you build a hotel for old people, young people never show up.”

So, what are Millennials looking for in hotels?

Amenities like free WiFi and top-flight bar programs are essential in any hotels hoping to attract a Millennial clientele, but there is more. Much more.

For one, if you want Millennials to embrace your hotel, you’ll need to be Instagram worthy.

“From a design and art standpoint, we’ve got a lot of very bold art that creates backdrops for people to take selfies and share online,” said Rose Anderson, vice president of global branding and innovation with Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, which owns Radisson Red Anderson.

Connecting guests with local favorites is also a Millennial must.

“It’s no longer just the job of the concierge to give you recommendations,” said Sandra Cordova Micek, Hyatt’s senior vice president of global brands. “Our colleagues are constantly being asked what their hidden gems are and what they would recommend.”

Additionally, Millennial expectations are driving hotels to revamp room service and menus.

“We’re sort of turning room service on its ear and thinking about it as restaurant-to-go delivery,” said Cordova Micek. “So, it’s not room service on the big silver tray rolling out. It’s actually having your food delivered in environmentally friendly packaging that comes in a paper bag that you can take with you if you’re going to run around and see the city.”

The form and function of lobbies are also changing.

Hotel lobbies are accommodating laptops and the new normal of people working outside the office with plenty of work spaces, plugs and free WiFi and easy acces to snacks, caffeine and cocktails. And gone is the traditional front desk at Radisson RED. At Radisson’s Minneapolis location, guests can check in using the app on their phone, then use the phone as the key to get into the room. If, however, someone needs help with checking in, staffers are there with iPads in hand.

And if you really want to start appealing to the uniquely socially concerned Millennial generation, it’s a good idea to start prioritizing social consciousness.

“Millennials want to feel like there’s something of value, that somebody cares about something and that their money is going to serve the greater good,” said Greenberg.

Ideas for appealing to this socially conscious strain in the Millennial psyche range from going paperless to supporting worthwhile causes.

And don’t assume that you have to be expensive to appeal to Millennials.

Hilton is reaching out to Millennials with a new low-cost hotel brand named Tru that puts major emphasis on amenities like craft beer, hangout space, large communal lobbies with bright colors, 24/7 bars, pool tables and workspaces. Costs are kept low, however, with easily cleanable rooms that are 20 percent smaller than the average hotel room. Tru’s locations are also outside the most expensive cities.

“You don’t want to be alienating some of your customers in order to appeal to some of your other customers,” said Diane Mayer, vice president and global brand manager of Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Protea and Marriott Executive Apartments. “So if you can find things that maybe are millennia- driven but that have universal appeal, that’s the holy grail.”

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