In general, one can trace general changes in culture through the hospitality industry. When the economy is in a period of relative prosperity, people feel more comfortable traveling and spending their discretionary income. When the opposite is true, the hospitality industry tends to slow down as well. As the millennial generation starts to gain more prominence in the professional world, more and more of its members are hitting the road and exploring the world. And that’s leading to some interesting changes in the hotel business.
The Age Shift
While in the past, the hospitality industry has largely catered its services toward an older generation with a greater degree of discretionary income, the industry is beginning to recognize a trend of younger travelers. Wondering how they’re bank-rolling it? Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman might have a clue. According to CNN, “in the 1960s, almost half of the wealthiest Americans were senior citizens. Now less than 40% of the super-rich are over 65.” And as money trades hands to a younger generation, businesses are seeing a shift in consumer spending preferences as well.
Increased Spending on Experiences
In a recent Harris study of the younger generation’s spending preferences, the vast majority of respondents reported a preference for experiential spending rather than acquisitional spending. 78% reported that they would rather pay for an event or experience than buy something desirable, indicating wanting to be with others and connecting better with their friends and community as a common factor driving such decisions. Another 72% agreed that they’d like to increase their spending on experiences in the upcoming year. With that influx of spending on new experiences, the travel industry has taken note.
How Hotels Meet That Need
Hotels are beginning to adapt their business to cater more heavily toward Gen Y and millennial travelers, incorporating a greater attention to detail in order to craft a unique experience for their guests. Hotels are outfitting their properties with a streamlined design that encourages interaction between guests by creating attractive social spaces like pools, lounges, and rooftops. To foster a more unique experience, many boutique hotels are designing guest rooms individually, to give each stay its own flavor.
In addition to design changes, they’re offering more technology integration to make guest stays more convenient for a tech savvy generation. With HotelsByDay, hotels give their guests more options and a more customizable experience with flexible daytime booking options from their mobile device or online.
Millennials are holding their hotels to a higher standard, and voting with their dollars to encourage hotels to meet that. With more booking options, more social spaces, and better design, it would seem that it’s working.