01 Aug Being Just Moxy? Or Millennial Shift in Action?
The Tremont House in Boston Massachusetts opened in 1829, it was the world’s first modern hotel that offered free soap, bellboys and indoor plumbing were a few of the modern conveniences at the time, that set it apart from the humble inns and guesthouses that were operating. Ever since hotels have been in danger of failing to adapt to a new breed of guests whose needs and demands are entirely different to those of previous generations throughout the history.
With more and more Millennials entering their peak earning years, considering these social media conscious generation’s traveling frequency, passion and the need compared to earlier generation, the demographic sheer size and affluence, there is no doubt that this generation is driving one of the remarkable shifting in the hospitality industry’s history. While Millennials may not be the majority of travel consumers at the moment, Over the next 5 to 10 years, Millennials will become the biggest customer segment for hotels worldwide. In fact, they are making the battle ground even more bloodier among hotels and chains that are already fighting on many fronts, be it a hotel’s own chain trying to grab portion of bookings, OTAs, other competitor hotels and chains or Airbnb.
“ Right now they’re about 45 to 50 percent of our business. In another three or four years, it will be 60 percent of our business “ said Bill Marriott in 2014.
The change driven by Millennials is not just going to fade away with them, rather it is a history being made by laying foundation for the tech enabled travel experience that gives more options and freedom of choice to future generations to come. Understanding Millennials, the first generation born and raised with technology, means understanding the foundation which is a key for long term success in the industry.
- Super tech-savvy: They don’t know a world without Internet, social media and mobile phones. So for them technology is not ‘extra’, just a part of them. Not giving them the latest in technology is a real deprivation.
- Redefining the luxury: They don’t worry about how large the room size is or having a personal butler or even a bellboy carrying their luggage to the room. They aren’t into traditional luxury that appealed the earlier generations. They value being part of community, experiencing the local culture and feast on local cuisine. Probably this is one of the primary reasons why luxury chains had to add a few lifestyle brands in their collection.
Source: Moxy by Marriott, Internet
- Self-service centric: Traditionally we hotels don’t prefer automated answering machines to enhance the guests experience with human interaction. But no longer with this generation – They are self-service centric minded who are more comfortable with making requests and interacting digitally, rather than speaking to a live person or making a phone call
- No respect for paid content: They don’t trust or depend on what a hotel’s own website says good about them or any traditional paid ads or printed media for that matter, rather they trust and depend on e-WOM (electronic word of mouth) through social media reviews for authentic experience from users or within their well connected communities.
- Design and colors: They are well attentive to design and colors. They prefer the lobbies more of an interactive social center integrated with front-desk, bar and go-grab outlets, rather than traditional looking lobbies. Design is a huge factor in appealing this generation that value local experience and want to feel themselves a local among. So colors and designs that resemble ambiance with local flavor is a wooing factor, because they worry less, if not nothing at all about traditional uniformity that luxury brands usually offer across different locations and countries.
Source: Tru by Hilton, from Internet
- Value for money: They are budget travelers, as most of them are with strict financial constraints, yet known to prioritize their short-term spending over long-term savings, they prefer to spend money on experiences rather than materialistic items or extra luxury that is often an outdated concept for them who look for value against their bucks spent. Remember, their savvy of Internet, social media, OTA sites, discount travel sites, hotel review sites and the similar, they know the truth that travel market is getting well affordable, while their nature being brand disloyal gives them greater freedom of choice.
- Prefer traveling: They travel more often than of their parents did or do. And they prefer traveling along with their friends, and love often bleisure whenever possible by topping off their business trips with leisure travels, yet seeking value for money.
- Marketing tool: They can be a hotel’s best marketing tool too that they can make or break a hotel’s online reputation with these eWoM (electronic word of mouth). Their constant connection to Internet and habit of sharing, commenting, tagging and writing reviews on their travel experience on social media, can do much better than what a marketing department does for the hotel, if involving the same Millennial guests in crowdsourcing for better marketing ideas that has been dramatically changing marketing landscape in recent times and keeping your strategy targeted.
‘Travel Brilliantly’ is such a campaign from Marriott for targeting Millennials by fostering dialogue and engaging them to co-create content on travel experiences to amplify brand’s dedication towards leading the future travelers.
- Fastest growing generation: And they are steadily growing group of travelers who are passionate about traveling that it is expected this group to dominate the travel demographic by 2020.
Perhaps hotels, at least some of the leading chains understood, few as early as by 2008, it is time to evolve and adapt, not just by changing up decor, replacing with trendier furniture, glitzing up lobbies with patchwork lighting, wooing with high speed Wi-Fi and tech gadgets to quenching their social media thirst or even adjustments to bars and cafes timing or having new lobby bar alone is not going to help them win the battle.
Tommie, Moxy, Zoku, Canopy, Tru, Citizen M, Hub, Alofts, Elements, Radisson Red, Vib, Jaz, Nhow, Hyatt Centric, M Social, Hotel Jen, Kimpton, Venu are not names of pets or movies, but these are the similar sounding and confusing new hotel brands added or being planned by some of the hotel chains to target these tech savvy Millennials or also called Generation Y who are changing the definition of traditionally known luxury in the hotel industry – The trend, that isn’t a surprise, continues.
(Tommie by Commune Hotels (Thompson Hotels), Moxy by Marriott, Canopy, Tru by Hilton, Hub by Premier Inn, Alofts and Elements by Starwood, Radisson Red by Rezidor, Vib by Best Western, Jaz by Steigenberger, Nhow by NH Hotels, M Social by Millennium Hotels, Hotel Jen by Shangri-la, Kimpton by Intercon, Venu by Jumeira Group)
But Why New Brands?
The cover picture is to lure this highly social media dependant world’s most hashtagged generation that is seeking authenticity, unique experience, simplicity, cheaper rates and value for money, while the traditional luxury is old-fashioned, if not uncomfortable for them. So, how about lifestyle hotels going well with flow of technology and combining chain’s reward programs, while killing that boring consistent look of interior around the globe as first step towards a unique experience sought by Millennials?
Many Questions Though..
Perhaps these big names want Millennials to think they are not big, and affordable and can operate lifestyle hotels too as good as traditional luxury? Or they want to target a single segment’s entire needs as a brand? Or simply the hotel developers’ fees playing a role, and not the Millennials? Or the industry is over doing? Or, can’t they genuinely mix the elements of millennial mindset into existing luxury and mid-scales to call it a true lifestyle hotel? Is it just a trial on a temp brand? Targeting Airbnb? Or, Millennial-centric is just the beginning to adapt for future generations, and fading away of traditional cookie-cutter concepts in the industry? What will happen to the desires of Millennials as they age? Will they be sticking to presently so called lifestyle hotels, while developers will keenly be busy making next lifestyle brands for next generation? Luxury, upscale, mid-scale or economy they fit in?
Many questions, few answers. I guess, that’s exactly the situation of hoteliers, developers and hotel owners too. Good news is that for an average traveler, it is about more choices, price points and locations within the same chain – if the traveler is bit of brand-conscious.
By Alan Miles – For www.operapmsexperts.com