In most industries, trying to appeal to millennials occupies a lot of marketing resources. The hospitality world is no exception. If you assume the under-30s don’t pack enough of a financial clout to much concern hoteliers, think again: according to a recent Forbes article, millennials make up 50% of all hotel bookings.
Even more surprisingly, they average twice the number of business trips as colleagues over 45, and they’re much more likely to order room service and take advantage of other perks (whether that spending should be attributed to the millennial whose name is on the card or the Gen X-er who’s probably footing the bill is another debate!).
According to Forbes, Millennials are not spendthrifts – but they are approaching the hotel experience from a different direction, and the big chains are doing their best to tune into this attitude. Marriott Hotels are leading the charge, tapping into – and in some ways helping to create – the idealistic Generation Y tourist. Their 2013 campaign ‘Travel Brilliantly’ fielded ideas about the future of travel from young people. Some of their suggestions have even been implemented.
The most notable of these millennial proposals to have reached fruition is the new Marriott Mobile app. It allows guests to check in and check out using their smartphones, and select which guest services they’d like to use during their stay. Marriott has also begun testing healthier vending machines. Partnering with Farmer’s Fridge, a Chicago startup, the hotel giants have installed a vending machine in the Windy City’s O’Hare branch. Instead of the usual array of candy bars and sodas, guests can grab a kale and quinoa salad, or fruit and yoghurt. Time will tell if healthier vending machines have a life beyond Chicago.
It’s not just regular guests that are benefitting from mobile apps. Business conventions who use the Marriott can now take advantage of Red Coat Direct, a meeting services app that allows event planners to change room temperature, order food and drinks, and request other amenities – all without leaving the meeting. It’s an executive butler service on a smartphone.
These changes are indicative of a hotel culture that’s evolving with the times. If you work in the hospitality industry and you haven’t yet taken advantage of the technology that’s helping the huge international chains grow bigger, it’s worth investing in a solid mobile campaign and a few bells and whistles of your own.