It’s Not All About Millennials
Why is every hotel trying to attract millennials these days? They aren’t the only powerful demographic out there, and hotels shouldn’t necessarily try to appeal to every generation. Here are some tips that will help hoteliers catch the eye of both Generation X and the baby boomers, and keep them coming back with their families.
These days, many baby boomers have retired and are eager to see the world. According to AARP, 99% of baby boomers planned to take at least one leisure trip in 2017, with an average of five or more excursions expected throughout the year. They are looking for relaxing vacations that give them a chance to connect with friends and family, so when factoring in the number of multi-generational trips they’re likely to organize with extended family, this makes the demographic very lucrative.
In general, boomers are not impressed by the minimalism popping up in many new hotel brands. Instead, they’re seeking familiarity and comfort in their hotels, so the ultra-hip open-plan guestrooms without closets and few perks are likely to elicit arched eyebrows. When they travel with their families, they want adjoining rooms with connecting doors, making it easy for kids, parents and grandparents to stay together.
Connecting with boomers is not all that different from connecting with the younger generations. A full 41% of boomers book flights, cars and hotels online, and most are members of a loyalty program. But while many brands use social media to promote their properties and communicate online with millennials and Gen Xers, this may not be as efficient for boomers, who prefer to talk with real people and want to reach a human being when they contact the front desk.
There’s another reason why hotels should reach out to boomers: according to AARP, only 18% said they wanted to stay with locals, giving hotels a big leg up over Airbnb and other home-sharing sites for this generation.
Generation X is the “middle child” in between boomers and millennials, and the travel trends of this demographic have elements of both generations on either side.
The children of the boomers are now the heads of companies, and are a dominant force in business travel. When they’re on the road for their jobs or for fun, they want plenty of comfort, and they’re willing to pay for it.
A Virtuoso study into generational travel differences last year found that Gen X spends the most of any generation each day while on a trip, at $627, and MMGY Global found that Gen Xers planned to spend an average of $4,517 on vacation in 2017, up 10% from 2015. In other words, this generation is also lucrative.
The most important Gen X factor when choosing a hotel is location, the Gallup study found, with room rate and overall quality following up. Services are also highly valued, and good wifi is a must. Notably, Gallup found that these factors outrank a hotel’s brand for Generation X, with only one in five travelers from the demographic claiming a strong emotional attachment to a brand. This, of course, gives independent hotels a chance to shine.
Like boomers, Gen Xers like family trips so large adjoining rooms are in demand. A dedicated kids club is popular for families with younger children, but if that isn’t available, even a pool or small playground can attract a family away from the competition. They also like to travel for celebrations – a graduation, for example, or a bachelorette party. As such, hotels that offer group rates and have a good restaurant or bar will catch their eye.
Much like millennials, Gen Xers value experiences and authenticity when they travel. A hotel with a design that reflects its location and that offers good access to local attractions (a shuttle to a trendy shopping area or a beach, for example) will be appreciated.
While no hotel can please every individual, knowing what different generations of travelers are likely to want will help a hotel attract that generation’s business.