The Millennial Obsession: Have We Gotten it All Wrong?

Millennials sometimes get categorized as young, carefree travelers, completely void of responsibility. We say they’re different than any other traveler to date and especially have nothing in common with the Baby Boomer Business travelers who never stop working.

They’re a generation that needs to be “spoken to on their own terms” (I’m guilty of thinking and saying this myself). I’m just as guilty of being wrong.

Are Millennials really as different as we think – or have we gotten our obsession all wrong?

Millennials may seem to be worlds apart from other demographics, especially Business travelers but when you really think about it, they have striking similarities in what they want when they travel.

Take into consideration these metrics about Millennials and travel:

  • Millennials make up more than 75 million people in the U.S. and this year the Census Bureau projects they will surpass Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest generation
  • Millennials are predicted to surpass the spending power of Baby Boomers by 2018
  • More than 70% of Millennials would rather spend money on an experience than on a material item
  • According to a survey, U.S. millennials plan to spend about $226 billion this year on travel.

And now about Business travelers:

What We Know About Targeting Millennials
Hotels are beginning to channel their marketing focus to target Millennials – understandably so. They are already the largest generation in American history and will account for half of the workforce in less than five years.

While more and more hotels open up lifestyle hotels geared towards Millennials, it’s time to take a step back and consider: are Millennials really so different from the rest of us?

“Technology is changing all of us, it’s just younger people, with their Millennial-aged spongy brains, soak up learning easier,” wrote Glenn Hausmann in an article for Hotel Interactive and he might be spot on – Millennials may have grasped technology first (and faster) but others have jumped on the bandwagon too.

Let’s take a deeper look at the mindsets of these powerful travelers.

5 Ways Millennials and Business Travelers are Alike

1. They are Digitally Savvy (Technology Addicts)

Can you think of a Millennial you know who doesn’t have a smartphone? You might be just as hard pressed to find a Business traveler who doesn’t bring along two or more devices on their trips. Today, technology is an extension of people’s lives and this holds especially true for Millennials and Business travelers.

As our friend Nathan Brooks from Egencia told us recently in a webinar, Business travelers want solutions that are mobile – it’s their new world of work. The average Business traveler will check their smartphone 34 times a day and compare this to the Millennial traveler, who, in a survey, found that they’d rather lose their sense of smell than their technology.

Hotels are taking note and adjusting. Starwood Hotels recently announced a program where loyalty members could open their room doors with their smartphones or Apple Watch. Digital wallets, mobile check-ins, super-fast WiFi and wearables all center around innovative technology with an emphasis on style. It’s also the little things that matter to both Millennials and Business travelers, such as power outlets and USB ports especially near the bed for convenience.

These small perks (like free WiFi and iPod docks in guest rooms) appeal to many types of travelers because of how it streamlines their travel experience and cuts down on unnecessary wait times throughout the entire trip – important for the on-the-go Business traveler and the multi-tasking Millennial traveler.


2. They Crave information (Quick and Convenient)

Business travelers have hectic lifestyles and it ramps up even more when they’re on the road. And Millennials simply will not deal with non-mobile optimized sites or websites that make it difficult to find information in a clear and coherent way.

Both Millennials and Business travelers want to be able to find and book their hotel quickly using the device of their choosing and they want convenience during their stay. They want technology solutions that are seamless and interconnected – whether that means being able to FaceTime with their kids while on a business trip (Business travelers), FaceTime with the parents (Millennials), or catch up on work (perhaps both).

By making it easy for both Millennials, Business and any other type of traveler to find the information they want quickly and conveniently, your hotel will stand out to them.

3. They Want Something to Do

Everyone and their Grandmother knows that Millennials NEED something to do but sometimes we forget that Business travelers are looking for a memorable travel experience too – especially once the meetings are over and they’re alone in a new city.

In fact, there is even a new travel app called Tripr that helps travelers find things to do and people to do it with, perfect for Business travelers (it can even help Business travelers find travel companions in the same line of business). It also provides options about what your property and the surrounding neighborhood has to offer.

So how can you take advantage of the Business traveler who wants more than to be told there’s free printing and the Millennial traveler who only uses your hotel room for sleeping?

Highlight your restaurant, local nightlife, parks, events and shops in a way that appeals to them both. All travelers love a more customized and streamlined experience when booking a hotel.

4. Millennials and Business Travelers Just Want to Have Fun

It doesn’t matter how old you are, everyone wants to experience life! Take Hilton’s new Canopy brand and their objective to target Millennials and Millennial-at-heart Business travelers. Their aim is to create a culture that is designed for travelers to have a fun and social experience but also be in bed at a reasonable time (let’s face it: those eight hours are key).

Check out these numbers to validate this claim:

  • 42% of Business travelers (18-30) said they would spend more company money on high-end meals
  • 35% of Business travelers state they are looking for more boutique style, more social-type hotels for their travel experience


5. Forever Yours, Faithfully

Don’t discount the loyalty of Millennial travelers – they can be forever yours, faithfully, if you give them a reason to be.

On the other hand, Business travelers are known for their love of rewards programs. To get Millennials to fully catch on, you need to make the process simple. No tedious amount of paperwork or filling in personal information. And a simple way for members to redeem their points, whether it be for room upgrades, restaurant vouchers or free stays with your hotel. Keep it simple to keep them coming back.

And perhaps more than that is about incorporating your loyalty program to your overall hotel story: what are you offering that would make travelers want to stay at your property over another?

According to a study conducted by Software Advice:

  • 86% of Millennials do not currently participate in a program (hint: capitalize on them now)
  • 70% of Millennials most often spend loyalty program points on a free or discounted stay or a room upgrade
  • 83% of Business travelers worldwide feel that they should be personally entitled to travel reward points when traveling on business

Drum Roll, Please

So what does this all mean? Well, we’ve often said that Millennials need to be targeted in a specific way and the same goes for Business travelers.

The fact is that the lines are blurring between lots of different travelers – in fact, you might want to think of it not as “who” the traveler is, but “why” they’re traveling.

The “who” may be young or old, female or male, adults or children etc., but the “why” explains what experience they’re looking for and how you should be targeting them – why are they traveling? For business or pleasure, or both? For a group event or a meeting or everything combined?

It’s time to rethink the way hotels position their story to their ideal guests and make sure to include these blurred lines travelers – and get started crating a story that appeals to them, without resorting to stereotypes.

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