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March 12, 2014 / BSP Marketing

What is a Millennial Traveler – Why are Hotel Owners and Managers so Interested to Them

Do you have what it takes to be a Millennial Traveler?

By HMG Hotels
Women Millennial Traveler at the Beach with a Tablet using internet for her next travel adventure
If you can walk, chew gum, and text, all at the same time, you might be a Millennial. You might be a Millennial if you use your smartphone to book a last minute room on Hotel Tonight. Just as we refer to the Baby Boomer generation or Generation X, the term Millennial refers to the last generation born in the twentieth century.

About the Millennial generation

While the exact number of people counted in the Millennial generation varies by the definition of the length of the generation, there is general consensus that the millennial generation has now surpassed the Baby Boomer generation as the most populous generation in history. Also referred to as “Generation Y” or “Generation Next,” this group will lead us into the future. Rough estimates are that there are 80 million Millennials and 76 million Baby Boomers. Millennials are a significant part of the US economy. In 2013, expenditures on goods and services totaled $600 billion. By 2020, as this generation moves into its prime earning years, spending is expected to increase to $1.4 trillion.

Demographics of the Millennial generation

When the results of a recent Pew Research survey were tabulated, some interesting trends for the millennial generation emerged.

• When asked about trust, only 19% of the respondents said that most people can be trusted.
• Only 26% get married before the age of 32.
• The Millennial generation is the most racially diverse of any generation. 43% identified themselves as non-white, with African American, Hispanic and Asian being among the different ethnicities.
• The median number of Facebook friends was 250.
• 55% have shared a “selfie.”

While it is dangerous to paint any large group with a single swipe of the brush, other surveys and general observations about the Millennial generation suggest that people in this age group are more likely to own a smartphone than have a landline telephone. Reading is done on a computer or other electronic device. Reading an old-fashioned newspaper (and getting ink on your fingers) is practically unheard of for a 20 year-old. Politically, most register as Independents, but tend to vote for the more liberal Democratic candidate. President Obama had overwhelming support from Millenials and that helped him get elected and re-elected.

Clues that suggest you are a true Millennial traveler?

Simply having a smartphone does not qualify you as a Millennial traveler. Anyone from five to ninety-five can have a smartphone. If you have one of these devices and can not do anything but answer or make a call, you are probably either an older Baby Boomer or a senior citizen. You should feel comfortable taking pictures, posting videos, sharing your life with your “friends” on Facebook and texting at least 50 times an hour.

It is not all that hard to identify Millennial travelers. Other than identifying them by age, you can tell much by simply observing their behavior. Men and women in this age group tend to walk briskly and get things done quickly. Not only do they like getting fast service, they demand it.

If you are standing in line at the front desk and a Millennial is in front of you, there will be no fumbling for credit cards or identification. Chances are good that the young person in front of you has used an app like CheckMate to check-in from a remote location. Everything is ready when they arrive at the hotel and they quickly get their room key and head off to their room. There are even some hotels that have systems that allow guests to skip the front desk and unlock the door to their room with a smartphone app.

You are probably a Millennial traveler if the first thing you do when you get into your room is to place your smartphone, tablet and music player on the recharging station. You can’t afford to be without your connections to the world!

Demanding extra from your hotel experience

Based on the apparent life-sustaining force that comes with your propensity to share what the older generations would call trivial nonsense, you must constantly try to find something to share with your friends. You need something that is new, even if it is not particularly exciting or interesting. Why else would you feel the need to post that you are at the Exxon gas station – filling up and getting donuts – and will be in Disneyland in twenty minutes?

Hotel managers may think this kind of behavior is unusual, but nonetheless, if they want to please millennial Travelers, they will do what they can to provide something unusual and interesting at their hotel. Put a red corvette in the lobby and you will see the smartphones come out. A Millennial wants to show-off by sitting in the sports car and taking a “selfie” to share with his friends. Is it showing off? Is it the need to receive praise and recognition from your peers? Whatever it is, millennial do it all of the time.

If your hotel serves a fantastic free breakfast, don’t be surprised if a picture of a scrambled egg platter with bacon and toast is sent to 200 people. You don’t have to understand it, but you do have to realize that your guest is doing you a favor by promoting your hotel.

If you can make your young guests excited about some part of their experience at your hotel, they will share their positive experience with in their social circles. That can lead to more business in the future. Just remember, if a Millennial has a bad experience, (hotel not clean, crack in the wall, hair on the pillow etc…) they will also take bad photos and Tweet those out to their friends.

You don’t like to travel alone

Although there are far more single millennial than married couples, the younger generation does not like to travel alone. According to a 2013 Boston Consulting Group survey, Millennials are more likely to travel for leisure in organized groups (tours), with extended family, or with friends.

More information please

If there is one common thread about millennial travelers, it is that they want quick access to all information. They don’t want to read through the rack of pamphlets to find someplace to go for the day. Your hotel can stand out if you have a comprehensive website with plenty of useful information, not only about your property, but also about the local area. It pays to invest a little time and money developing a list of recommended restaurants, places to shop, and attractions to see.

The Millennial generation has its own way of looking at the world. They rely on technology to help them get things done quicker and more efficiently than earlier generations. They may not know how to calculate the area of a circle, but they can get the answer almost immediately by using the Internet. Millennials will become the dominant generation in the near future, be prepare to the challenge. They will contribute more to the economy and have a major influence on all political issues. Hotels and the travel and tourism industry must understand the wants and needs of this generation if they want to succeed in the future.

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