Exclusive Feature: While the hospitality industry is clambering out of the recent economic downturn, a relevant question to ask your hotel or resort is, are we ready for the Millennials?
Yes the Millennials and you may choose to add them to your dictionary. Also known as Gen X or Gen Y, these are folks born between 1980 and 2000, and are becoming a force to reckon with - be it in the workforce or as consumers.
According to Global Hospitality Insights Top Thoughts for 2014 by Ernst & Young
1 in the next 5 to 10 years Millennials are projected to account for 50% of all employees worldwide. 20% of them are entering their peak spending ages and their potential continues to be high as 40% have yet to enter the full-time workforce.
'2014 Travel & Tourism Trends'
2 published by Resonance, found that Millennials are keen on international travel, tend to choose urban locales and usually travel in organized groups of friends and family.
They are also twice as likely to use mobility devices and social media to stay connected during their travel and post travel review and photos while on the move. Expedia, the popular online travel site corroborates this finding and adds, 8 in 10 Millennials consider online travel reviews "somewhat" or "very important" to their travel plan.
If you are wondering where the Millennials are based and the size of this population, well they are in Russia, China, Brazil and India. The size of their population may be slightly debatable, but figures put out by the National Bureau of Statistic China
3 in 2010 put the estimate at 230 million for China. Brazil will contribute approximately 60 million to the Millennials population, followed by Russia with 40 million.
The largest number of Millennials will be from India, with an estimated 500 million and this takes the total number to an astounding 830 million.
Thus if you are a hospitality property – be it a hotel or resort, in Russia, China, Brazil and India or your country is aggressively marketing to the Millennials of these countries, you are happily located in the right place and at the right time.
So what should your hotel do to cash in on this large customer base?Millennials are technology dependent; ensure your hotel leverages it to the hilt. From connecting with your potential customers online, to ensuring guest satisfaction when they walk through your hotel door, keep your branding strategy active.
Aggressively market your hotel property and all its facilities on social media. Be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest. Your potential guests are out there, connecting, sharing their thoughts, and asking for opinions. So go out and connect with the Millennials on the space they consider ‘fun'. Share photos, run contests, respond to posts and you will slowly develop a loyal following. A good online reputation management tool can help you do this and more.
Free hotel-wide Wi-Fi connections – Millennials love to stay connected to their social network, all the time, day and night, so free high speed Wi-Fi is just what they need.
Mobility apps – Millennials have the latest gizmos and love it if your hotel can provide apps to put them to use. Even better if you use mobile and tablets to serve them, so whip out your mobile check-in app, social networking apps, e-menu app and the like.
In-room power consoles to plug in multiple devices – Millennials love to travel with their phone, iPod, tablet, camera, and more.
Web booking engine – Millennials love an attractive deal, and simply lap up last-minute hotel room booking rates. Leverage your web booking engine to offer irresistible room rates, you will soon develop a loyal following.
Quality guest service – ensure you respond to your guest immediately and in as personalized a manner possible, this is key to quality guest service. Today, one can secure apps that send out alerts when a guest makes a request. There are also apps that facilitate seamless internal communication and ensure your hotel staff is always on the ball.
Keeping your hotel working seamlessly to the high expectation of your Millennial guests should be robust hospitality technology, more specifically, hotel software. A hotel ERP that has a comprehensive set of modules is ideal.
Your hotel software should also have a large number of interfaces to third party applications like door lock, Wi-Fi, EPABX and other software's you may wish to plug in to. With hotels becoming increasingly prone to hacking, a PA DSS compliant property management system is a must as well.
With the right technology in place, attract and wow your guests all the way to high occupancy at your hotel.
Notes:1 - ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY_-_Global_hospitality_insights_2014/$FILE/EY-Global-hospitality-insights-2014.pdf
2 - slideshare.net/chrisfair/2014-travel-tourism-trends-28171651
3 - hotelexecutive.com/business_review/3687/managing-gen-y-the-characteristic-of-gen-y-in-the-hospitality-industryAuthor
Manoj K Mohanty, Vice President Sales, South and Central Asia, IDS Next. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org