The word ‘Millennial’ is referenced more and more these days, and while the term is sometimes used in a light-hearted or satirical context (“it’s a millennial thing” or “millennials are taking over the world!”), millennials are an influential part of the population and an important group to understand – especially as it relates to hospitality and technology.
So what is a millennial?
Also referred to as ‘Generation Y,’ researchers typically group millennials into those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. With 83 million millennials in the United States, it is the country’s largest generational demographic. Millennial characteristics vary by region and socioeconomic status, but generally speaking the generation is often associated with a familiarity and increased usage of technology and digital media.
Why does this matter to hospitality?
Well, as the largest US generational demographic millennials spend on average $200 billion annually - also the largest spend per demographic group. That’s big bucks, and for hospitality businesses like hotels, resorts, casinos, restaurants, and bars (as examples), it is critical to develop a technological and digital strategy that supports and complements millennial behaviors, now and for the future. Already 87% of millennials use a smart phone at least once a day; in fact, they spend more time on their smart phones (on average more than two hours/day) than any other generational group. These metrics (and the demands they create for a business) alone justify a property’s investment in and development of a comprehensive digital strategy, but let’s take a look at some of the numbers directly impacting the industry.
In terms of how millennials currently leverage mobile devices to interact and engage with hospitality businesses, we see significant percentages already tapping into the digital services available to them:
- 82% of millennials using mobile devices in hotels report connecting to the hotel’s Wi-Fi network
- 52% of millennials prefer to manage loyalty programs on their mobile device
- 46% of millennials have booked a hotel using their mobile device
- 20% of millennials have checked in using their mobile device
With Wi-Fi increasingly seen as a utility and not as a luxury, hotels (and all guest-facing hospitality businesses) understand the value of providing this service to their guests.
Not only does the investment in Wi-Fi better support the ability to deliver value-added services (like loyalty programs, in-room ordering via mobile, mobile check-in/check-out, etc.), it truly strengthens a business’ brand and how guests perceive it.
Providing guests – especially highly-connected millennials – with quality, secure Wi-Fi connectivity is good for business: it increases loyalty, incentivizes repeat customers, provides a platform to build revenue-generating offerings, and helps to keep those pesky guest satisfaction scores positive.
Millennials also responded to the question of what they would like to do in the future, as it relates to hospitality and technology. The top answers include the following:
- Order room service (on device)
- Improved Wi-Fi service
- Watch TV/movies from hotel (on device)
- Connect device(s) to TV/speakers
- Check in/check out
The top responses from this survey help reveal how millennials want to use technology, but more importantly it underscores key aspects of a well-designed digital strategy for hospitality properties and brands.
So, what are the critical aspects of a well-design digital strategy? A solution that delivers value, convenience, and flexibility to the guest. Millennials may wish to utilize value-added service offerings, but what they are really looking for is the same at-home Wi-Fi experience, and the freedom this experience inherently provides when it comes to mobile and digital. For example, over 55% of millennials want to connect their mobile devices to in-room entertainment systems to play their own media during their stay (as opposed to the property’s entertainment selection). For hospitality businesses, the key is to invest in robust, flexible solutions that provide a strong platform to build upon, because the best technology solutions provide an unfettered, or ‘frictionless’ experience.
This mentality transcends the hotel space across all of hospitality, and isn’t exclusive to the millennials either. This group may be leading the charge, but we’ll see these trends grow across ages and demographics, so while millennials may seem to be “taking over the world” they offer hospitality important lessons related to technology and digital engagement moving forward.
Sources and Survey Information from:
Millenials and Hospitality: Redefinition of Service