For years, the baby boomer generation has dominated and dictated how hotels behave and promote themselves. But now, as more and more Generation Y and Generation X people travel, hotels will need to become more sensitive to their travel needs and habits. And with the rise of social media as a major marketing platform, hotels will need to refocus their energies on this exciting new medium, one dictated by ‘young and progressive’ thinking.
Addressing this sea change in perspective will not be easy for hoteliers. It represents radical ideas and requests, even somewhat crazy. For example, in the past, hotels always left the lights on for their guests at all times. There is even a major hotel chain that uses that concept as a slogan. But this isn’t always what this younger generation wants: in a greener, more environmentally conscious atmosphere, these younger travelers would prefer you leave it dark. These youngsters would rather bask in the dark, save the Earth, and turn the light on themselves than have you waste all those kilowatts each and every night. This fact is a small sample of the great shift change that hoteliers face all over the world. Changing not only the way they market their business, but also their own business model.
There are a host of other issues and changes that the younger traveler brings to redefine the luxury hotel experience. Technology is obviously at the forefront. And not just cutting-edge technology, but cutting-edge mobile technology. Book, view virtual tours, find rates (and discounts) not only from the host hotel but also from the competition, view room layouts, check in and pay all from your handheld electronic device.
If that wasn’t enough, all of that technology needs to happen before a guest even sets foot in your hotel. Once the boot is on the mat, you better greet them with wireless internet (free and high speed), full service fax/shopping center, electronic keys (self-erasing), flat screen TVs, television satellite, Tivo, mobile DVD players, iPads, iPod music centers, and electronic self-closing shades. Of course, make sure all of this technology is always turned off when not in use! Continuing the green theme, make sure that beds, towels and sheets are not changed for free and that any laundry or dry cleaning services are as eco-friendly as possible.
Design-wise, hotels are becoming more stylish with furnishings to boot. The taste for the modern design of the next century prevails. If your hotel doesn’t look like it belongs in the 21st century, then you won’t get 21st century bookings. More and more young travelers and travelers with younger tastes dictated by the dominance of social media will create a shift change for your hotel. From design to technology, booking methods and marketing, the future of the hotel will lie in the eyes of the next generation.