For years, the baby boomer generation has dominated and dictated how hotels behaved and marketed themselves. But now, as more and more Gen Y’s and Gen X’s are traveling, hotels will need to become more sensitive to their needs and their travel habits. And with the emergence of social media as a major marketing platform, hotels will need to refocus their energies on this exciting new medium-a medium dictated by ‘young, forward’ thinking.
Tackling this shift change in outlook won’t be easy for hoteliers. It represents radical, even somewhat zany ideas and requests. For instance, in the past, hotels have always left the lights on for their guests at all times. There’s even a major hotel chain that uses that concept as its tagline. But this isn’t always what this younger generation desires: in a greener, more environmentally conscious atmosphere, these younger travelers would actually rather you left it dark. These young’uns would rather relish 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 taste of the larger shift change that hoteliers face worldwide. Changing not only the way they market their business, but their very business model to boot.
There are a host of other issues and changes the younger traveler brings to redefining the luxury hotel experience. Technology is, quite obviously, at the forefront. And not just cutting edge technology but mobile cutting edge technology. Booking, watching virtual tours, finding rates (and discounts) from not only the host hotel but competitors, viewing room layouts, checking in to checking out all from their handheld electronic device.
If that wasn’t enough, all that tech needs to happen before the guest even steps foot into your hotel. Once that boot is on the carpet, you’d better greet them with wireless (free and high speed) Internet, full service business/ fax center, electronic keys (that delete themselves), flatscreen TV’s, satellite TV, Tivo, mobile DVD players, iPads, iPod music centers, and electronic self-closing drapes. Of course, make sure all of this technology is always off when not in use! Continuing the green theme, make sure beds, towels and sheets are not changed gratuitously and that any laundry or dry cleaning service is as green as possible.
From a design standpoint, hotels are becoming sleeker with furnishings to boot. Modern, next century design taste dominates. If your hotel doesn’t look like it belongs in the 21st century, than you won’t get 21st century bookings. More and more younger travelers and travelers with younger tastes dictated by the dominance of social media will create a shift change for your hotel. From design, to tech, to booking methods and marketing, the future of the hotel will be found in the eyes of the next generation.