Hotels around the world agree that Generation Y travellers are now the driving force behind changes in the industry. Generation Y is the fastest-growing segment of travellers and is set to become the biggest spending consumer group in the world in the next 10 years.
Generation Y travellers regard hotels and consume hotel products very differently than their predecessors. Plush interiors and the latest in-room entertainment are not their main concerns: connectivity is. They need Wi-Fi like they need fresh air: free, available everywhere, all the time. They are the most connected generation ever and will not be impressed by hotels with only allocated Wi-Fi spots.
These travellers are extremely social, paradoxically, both online and offline. Having been wired 24/7 for most of their lives, the Generation Y population generally prefers online interactions to face-to-face ones. Online check-in is preferred to dealing with people at the front desk. Apps and social media accounts are slowly replacing the concierge as more hotels develop custom apps to handle any queries and requests.
However, within the hotels, the privacy of the room isn’t preferred over the liveliness of chic bars and lobby areas. Generation Y travellers would prefer to socialise in these locations, even if, at times, they spend the whole time on their mobile devices. This characteristic is referred to as “at once alone and together”, which is the idea of sitting together but working separately. This population is interested in collaboration and social interactions, thus the propensity to leave the hotel room and head to bars or lobby areas. So hotels are doing away with traditional lobbies in lieu of open communal spaces.
Generation Y travellers desire emotional connections to what they are doing. These travellers want to be engaged and have personal experiences that resonate with them. Hotel locations with strong sense of place add to the emotional connection that these travellers seek. Customised experiences will be of great appeal to these travellers. Personalisation is an excellent means of engaging guests. Engaged guests become more committed to the property, which strengthens their loyalty and emotionally ties them more closely to the brand.
Despite being the one of the largest spending segment of guests, Generation Y travellers are still price conscious. More than any of the factors above, price-value ratio is the most criteria when it comes to selecting hotels. Having grown up during the last recession, Generation Y travellers are more cost-conscious, with the concept going beyond the room. With this information in hand, hotels are eliminating fees and adding more amenities and benefits included in the overall cost of the stay.
Hotels have always been known as homes-away-from-homes with advanced services and facilities. As the segment continues to grow, and their demands increase, hotels worldwide will need to step up their game or risk losing one of their largest customer segments.