The Millennial traveller, defined by age as being born between 1980 and 2000, already makes up over one third of the world’s hotel guests, with predictions that they will reach over 50 per cent by 2020.
As the travel and hospitality industry gears up for the biggest disruption in decades, key attributes like design, experience, mobile and perceived value are imperative for attracting the millennial traveller.
There has never been a demographic that is more connected, digitally savvy and demanding, and wanting contemporary design, high quality amenities, smart technology and locally inspired ambience, all wrapped into a single hotel experience.
With boutique hotels and fast-growth start-ups disrupting all aspects of the industry, innovation is also coming from within some of the largest corporates, who are aware that disruption and reinvention will drive their own relevance and bottom-lines in the future.
The world’s leading hotel chains have been gearing up for some time with the emphasis on launching and acquiring Millennial-inspired hotels, including Hilton, Starwood, Intercontinental, Marriott and Best Western Hotels.
These hotels are being forced to rethink hotel and room design, guest services and experiences, ethical footprints and smart features to cater for the Millennial customer that wants to be able to discuss, organise, book and customise their experiences through their mobile at their own convenience.
User experience has never been more important for the truly connected Millennial traveller, with high expectations in discovery, payments and mobile experience prior to and during their stay.
The W Hotel group lets tech-savvy guests unlock their rooms in some of their hotels with an Apple Watch or smartphone while Scandinavian hotel group HTL Hotels enables both check-in and room access through the smartphone.
Taking it a step further, Japan’s Henn-na Hotel is staffed with life-like robots that greet guests, carry bags and even clean rooms once a guest leaves. The aim of the hotel is to create an all-round hi-tech experience, including facial recognition software to open doors.
Smart hotel brands are integrating the right on-demand services, making them seamless for guests to access and use, whether it is quick access to prices, amenities or room service via their own branded-apps or messaging tools like Whatsapp.
For example, the Ritz-Carlton app enables guests to order extra towels or toiletries, luggage pickup or housekeeping services directly from their mobile. While the Conrad Concierge app allows guests to choose their rooms prior to checking in and order room service during their stay.
Best Western’s new Vib hotel chain even offers automated check-in and a virtual concierge service and Sheraton Frankfurt Airport hotel has even implemented WhatsApp to communicate with guests. WhatsApp enquiries include pricing information, booking enquiries, lost property enquiries, as well as travel questions.
The hotel has implemented a successful five minute turnaround time to all Whatsapp enquiries.
The sharing economy
Driven by Airbnb becoming one of the world’s largest hotel groups without having to own a single hotel, traditional hotels are increasingly having to apply Sharing Economy features to the hotel experience. These features include communities, value, trust and social connections.
Created by MIT’s Mobile Experience Lab, Marriott Hotels launched Six Degrees, a physical social network encouraging hotel guests to engage in the physical space through an app, digital wall projection and an interactive wooden table in the lobby.
The system used guests’ LinkedIn accounts to pull information on the guests, including where they work and what their interests might be. Guests could express interest in organised activities from jogging in the park to craft beer tasting, through the app.
Developed in the Netherlands and created to provide value for millennials, Zoku markets itself as the end of the hotel room and the beginning of the infinite room. The hotel rooms include neat design features such as pullout stairs, drawers and sliding doors that help convert the room into a variety of multipurpose spaces, depending on the needs of the guest.
“In our research, we found that what young people like about a hostel, for example, is that they jump out of their bunk beds, go down to have a coffee, and chat for two hours with new people,” said Hans Meyer, co-founder and managing director at Zoku.
Read rest of the article at: eHotelier