Born between 1980 and 1994, Millennials account for much of today’s business, leisure and “bleisure” travel, especially in some developing markets. According to a recent article in Hotelier India, steady advancement in their professional careers, higher disposable income and flexible work hours have all led to increased spending power. Millennials contributed $200 billion to travel in the U.S. in 2019, and forecasts predict that by 2025 this generation will increase its total spend by 10%.
Major hotel groups are already operating brands specifically to attract Millennials: Moxy by Marriott, Tru by Hilton, 25hrs by Accor and Hotel Indigo by IHG, plus smaller chains including Mama Shelter, Motel One and Citizen M. Inside the doors, hoteliers are changing the guest experience to meet the expectations of a younger, digitally-savvy crowd.
A recent study from LODGING Magazine, titled “Redefining the Guest Experience,” found that hotel operators currently offer or plan to offer content streaming (61%), mobile check-in (55%), voice-controlled devices (13%) and free Wi-Fi (90%) this year, among other technologies based on customer demand. Let’s dig deeper on why these categories are important for Millennials.
TV casting is gaining popularity, especially among this critical age group. In fact, Millennials watch TV online and via streaming services more than any other generation, and want to have these apps available to them when they travel. No one wants to watch CNN on a loop or the same limited programming anymore. Need more value? The global content streaming market has already reached $419.03 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to $932.29 billion by 2028.
Additionally, casting lets guests choose their own content, in their own language. A bonus, hotels don’t have to pay for every app since guests bring them on their own devices and apps, and casting puts the expensive – and often unused – in-room TV back to work. Many hotels, like Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun, are already ahead of this trend and have implemented this cost-effective and secure technology because it meets the new habits of guests and provides the comforts of home.
Voice and Mobile Technology
This technology provides efficiency and ease at home and many Millennials have it integrated into their daily lives for online shopping, smart features in their homes, looking up recipes, booking appointments and more. Additionally, more than 40% of Gen Z and Millennials owns smart speakers, according to CivicScience. They are digital natives and recognize the value technology brings to comfort, efficiency and safety, especially during the pandemic.
For hotels, it can also be a game changer for improving operations and personalization, especially during a time of major staffing shortages. In June 2021, there were one million available hospitality jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. How do you keep the hotel running smoothly with understaffing? Shift to the expectations of Millennials. According to a study of 2,600 respondents, the younger generations expect fast check-in and prefer minimal interaction with the staff. Specifically, they only want staff attention when they need something and don't want staff to bother them with questions.
By adopting in-room assistants or mobile apps, for example, hotels can create safer, more contactless experiences and let the technology answer questions, give recommendations, and more efficiently direct requests to different departments or the appropriate team members.
Last, strong and reliable Wi-Fi will power the entire hotel experience. The pandemic bolstered the average U.S. household connected devices to 25, including laptops, smartphones, streaming devices, smart TVs, headphones and gaming consoles, according to a Deloitte report. And while they won’t travel with all of them, it is expected that guests will bring multiple devices with them for work and leisure, and simultaneously connect them to the hotel network.
According to a recent Fortune Magazine article, younger millennials are frequently trip-stacking (booking multiple trips back-to-back), taking advantage of flexible remote working perks and using more PTO days, with an average trip length of nine to 11 days. With the combined work/personal trips, content streaming, several synchronous mobile devices, and increases in robotics and voice technology in hotels, Wi-Fi should be the first focus area to consider when upgrading or building new properties.
While the industry is still in recovery mode and every region is navigating through the day-to-day COVID-19 updates and governmental mandates, there is hope looking at industry predictions moving into 2022. With events, business travel and hybrid work driving increased travel demand, it’s a good time to adopt new practices, upgrade technology and plan for the biggest travel generation that will redefine and boost our industry.
By Speleos Dravillas, Chief Revenue Officer at Nomadix, Inc