Based on insights from over 10 thousand millennial and Gen Z travellers, here’s what hotels can do right now to appeal to this Airbnb-loving lot
In 2019, millennials and Gen Zers will account for more than half of the world’s population - and they LUV to travel. Known for their penchant for an Instagram-fueled wanderlust lifestyle, this digital savvy generation of 20 and 30 somethings are on every travel brand’s radar. And rightfully so.
Susceptible to trends, eager to experience new things and suspicious of authority, millennials and Gen Zers have adopted disruptive technologies and brands in all facets of life, from transportation and education, to work, banking and, of course, travel.
Over the past few years, travel brands have been scrambling to gain the trust of these youngins, as well as their business and loyalty. Based on insights from over 10 thousand millennial and Gen Z travellers from around the world, here’s what the future-minded hotel can do to appeal to this Airbnb-loving lot.
1. No hotel is an island
Connect hotel guests to the neighborhood and to the local community
Well some hotels are, but that’s besides the point. The idea is that the age of the hotel surviving as an island in the city is over. The new generation of travelers are out and about, soaking up the local culture, eating local food, and rubbing elbows with locals. Ever since Airbnb gave travellers access to the local scene by putting them up in residential areas, they see their accomodation as a gateway to the city - not an end in itself.
Hotels are now expected to connect their guests to the neighborhood and to the local community. True, this is not the fortay of hoteliers, who’ve spent decades perfecting hospitality - but that’s what partnerships with experience brands and community builders are for.
2. Just beeee authentic
Think of your marketing funnel as a casual, enjoyable and informative conversation
Millennials and Gen Z’ers can smell fake from a mile away. Find a way to communicate with your customers that feels casual and real, that doesn’t smell of marketing and the real zinger - gives real value. How do you do this, you ask? This can come in many shapes and sizes, from email marketing that offers relevant info about the city and speaks in a tone that rubs them the right way; online information that is actually relevant to their taste and needs; and real-life connection to people, such as the local community surrounding the hotel.
3. It’s personalized
Personalized content and conversations are not only desired - they’re expected
Three of every four millennial travellers are interested in personalized travel recommendations. Airbnb hosts can do this easily due to their personal contact with each of their guests. Hotels work on scale, challenging their ability to give such personal attention to each of their guests - but that’s exactly what they must do. In order to engage with millennial and Gen Zers, hotels must enter into a conversation with their guests, providing a sense of personalization. This can be done through collecting data on returning guests and offering new guests a whole lotta choice and opportunities.
4. Community is the new location
Provide your guests with relevant, human-driven local guides to build brand loyalty
If there’s one thing that Millennials and Gen Z travellers hate, it’s the feeling that they missed out on something cool. They want to eat at the right place that locals love, drink the talked about coffee, and shop locally designed and manufactured brands that are all the local rage. In short, they want to be in the right place at the right time. Hotels that help them avoid the annoying sense that something is happening but you don’t know where it is, and make FOMO NOMO, will win these customers' loyalty forever and ever, amen.
5. Can you feel the experience tonight?
Change your mindset, own your guests’ entire stay experience and guarantee satisfaction
If you haven’t heard about the pivotal role experiences are playing in the travel arena in general and the hospitality industry in particular, you’re late for the party and we’re almost out of beer.
Experience is the magical term in the biz, and one that every brand that prides itself relevant must get a firm grip on. So what does “experience” mean? In the Airbnb world, experiences are booked activities such as tours and classes, but what hotels should think of it is the entire user journey - from the very first emails sent to confirm reservation, to the stay on your property, a dinner in a local restaurant and the flight back home. Hotels that become facilitators of their guests' experience end-to-end will be assigned praise for every good moment during the trip.
6. We belong together
If your guests feel like city insiders, they’ll think the world of your brand
Last, but not least - belonging. The idea that you don’t belong to a place isn’t something this generation likes to acknowledge. In their mind, the world is their oyster and they should know locals and be connected.
Airbnb tapped into this sentiment with the idea that you can "live like a local" even when you travel - an idea that backfired in multiple cities around the world where Airbnb has had a significant impact on the local housing market. Today, hotels have the upper hand - their properties are legit, their existence isn’t disputed by the locals - now all they need to do is give their guests that sense of belonging through local connection, and ding ding ding - jackpot!