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The Independent Mind By Mark Grenoble
Mark Grenoble, president and CEO, 360 AMI, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Montreal.

Luxury resorts and the millennial traveler

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

In today’s business environment, it’s difficult to avoid talk of the millennials. It’s undeniable that this generation, born between 1980 and 2000, will impact the future of the hospitality industry. Hotel brands have made significant changes to accommodate this rising demographic and some have even launched sub-brands focused on tech-forward guest rooms, lively communal spaces and an overarching ‘hip factor.’ Many of these hotels are missing the mark, however, by catering to this demographic’s wants and needs now instead of developing a long-term strategy that anticipates what their demands, tastes and behaviors will look like in the near future.

As with any population sample, a fraction of millennials are price-sensitive, but we are finding that as the discretionary income of this generation increases, they are driven by value and experiences, and are willing to pay a premium for both. In the luxury sector, these value-driven folks are our guests, no matter their age, and it is our job to attract and retain these invaluable customers.

Because trends quickly become obsolete, many of these sub-brands’ recently launched offerings have already become passé. The millennial generation is smart and as they grow older, their spending power is increasing and their tastes maturing. From observing millennial guest behavior patterns at Enchantment Group’s four luxury properties, I’ve discovered that more than a cool design aesthetic or the latest gadget, this demographic is looking for:

  • Instant gratification – this can be achieved through technology upgrades, service protocols and operational efficiencies.
  • Indigenous experiences – with a wealth of information and lodging options at their fingertips, access to authentic experiential activities is a key selling point for younger travelers. Millennials seek to experience a locale’s culture, traditions, cuisine and even arts and crafts. Millennial travelers want an experience they can’t have anywhere else, and providing guest programming with a true sense of place will attract these customers.
  • Shareable experiences – guest-generated content on social media channels, including review sites, can either benefit or be a detriment to your brand. That being said, millennial guests can be amazing brand advocates, as they are motivated by sharing enviable travel experiences across their social networks. Leverage this behavior by creating unique guest experiences worth talking about and encourage guests to share their sentiments on your preferred networks.
  • Digital presence – this ‘mobile’ generation expects to be able to find your property through a variety of digital mediums including web and social media, and presence on these channels must be functional, branded and user-friendly.
  • Spontaneity – Millennials tend to be spontaneous, reserving their stays within a shorter booking window than typical guests. Resorts can benefit from this pattern by targeting millennials with last-minute offers and promotions.

In our industry, while technology and operational processes are ever-changing, the core of what we do – providing exceptional products and customer service – remains the same. This unwavering ethos of hospitality is what helps the hotel industry endure. As a luxury resort, it’s imperative to continually improve and adapt, but scrapping luxury for ‘hipness’ will not benefit the business in the long run. When creating strategies for attracting and retaining millennial guests, luxury resorts should stay the course by providing excellent value, inimitable experiences and superior service. 

5/10/2017

 
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