Customer experience (CX) is now more important than product and price for over 60% of consumers. Delivering superior experiences in line with evolving expectations and preferences, however, remains a challenge. This is especially true considering the rising population of millennials, which represents both the greatest threat and opportunity for brands today.
The distinctly different value set of millennials (born between 1980 and 1995) has permeated nearly every aspect of life and business, forcing brands to adapt or face the very real threat of extinction. In hospitality, this transformation is in full gear with market leaders like Hilton and Marriott working to cater to the tastes of young adults. In order to succeed, hospitality organizations must disrupt in an age of emoji room service, automated concierges and smartphone-enabled-everything.
How can you keep up? Below are 15 statistics to help shape your 2019 millennial engagement strategy:
1. 70% of millennials take at least one leisure trip a year and spend almost just as much as older travelers: $3,217 vs. $3,381.
2. Though they spend slightly less than older travelers, millennials travel more on the fly: almost 25% have booked a trip less than one week before departure.
3. Hotels are increasingly offering smaller rooms at cheaper rates to accommodate on-the-fly, budget-conscious millennial travelers. Consider Tru by Hilton, where rooms are priced at $100 or less and are 20% smaller than average.
4. 45% of millennials expect more engaging experiences with brands than with retailers. In other words, they expect brands to build relationships with them, listen to them, and engage with them. They want to be part of the process.
5. Over 80% of millennials believe the best way to discover and learn about a place is through local experiences (source). This is exactly why we’re seeing innovations like “Canopy by Hilton” designed to deliver more authentic, local experiences.
6. Millennials rank travel as more important than buying a home or even paying off debt.
7. 70% of millennials say they would travel more if they had more time, and 90% would travel more if they had more money.
8. More than 70% of millennials worldwide believe that travel is an important part of who they are as a person.
9. 85% of millennials say that venturing out of their comfort zones and learning new things is a priority, right behind dining (91%), fun attractions (90%) and sightseeing (88%).
10. The two most important factors for solo millennial travelers when choosing a vacation destination are safety (56%) and cost (51%).
11. 64% prefer booking on travel websites, compared with 47% through specific hotel, resort and airline websites.
12. 77% use a mobile phone or computer daily while traveling, while 32% use one of them hourly.
13. 30% of millennials rate sharing or collecting images of things online as extremely valuable to their entertainment, suggesting that not only is it a habit for research or booking purposes but a real pastime for this generation.
14. 61% of millennials consulted an industry expert (i.e. travel agent, travel provider, expert opinion website) over fellow consumers (52%) for their most recent trip.
15. 68% are interested in a service that would allow them to split the cost of a trip online with another person, compared to 48% of non-millennials.
Here are my top suggestions for hoteliers in 2019:
Shift from a focus on relaxation to excitement: As opposed to older generations—many who are retired and seeking rest and relaxation—millennials crave immersive, challenging adventures.
Work to offer something new, unconventional and original: Millennial travelers don’t want to feel like ordinary tourists; they want to look cool and feel original.
Integrate visually striking/interactive elements: Millennials are eager to engage with these kinds of elements as well as reflect on them in the future. This influences social connections and creates organic brand promotion.
Millennials want guest experiences to be as unique and authentic as they are and are much more likely to stop purchasing from a company, switch brands or post a complaint if expectations are not met. Hospitality organizations have no choice but to differentiate and continually improve alongside today’s rapidly moving millennial consumer base, or risk facing very real consequences.