For years, hospitality marketing catered to the baby boomer business traveler. We used airline points, reward programs and fresh-baked cookies to lure this loyal road warrior as they flew from business meeting to business meeting. But today, the target audience is shifting to the millennial. Marketing to millennials is a different beast.
This fresh-faced traveler doesn’t have the Willy Lohman slouch or the giant, rolling sample case. For them, travel is not drudgery, it is fun. They, more than likely, are choosing these jobs with built-in travel because they love the notion of jetting from one city to the next. Every business transaction is a new adventure!
So how can a hotel chain win over this intrepid millennial to their brand? Not with loyalty programs.
To begin with, the millennial generation is not into loyalty. They move jobs frequently. They don’t have a mortgage, a family or a regular neighborhood bar. You have to find new tools in the toolbox to reach this fickle consumer.
What the millennial traveler does have is high expectations. They are the data generation that daily sign over their privacy rights just to download a phone app. They define service as “personalization.” Because their personal data is out there, they expect every global brand to have access to their individual preferences. A hotel shouldn’t need to ask. They should know that this millennial wunderkind wants a non-smoking room with a view and a chilled bottled water. The hotel should also have online check-in and check-out, because the web is where they do everything from grocery shopping to career networking.
Another thing that will catch the millennial frequent-traveler’s attention is cause-related affiliations. They buy their foot wear from companies that create jobs in Haiti. They buy their eyewear from brands that provide eyeglasses to the underprivileged. The hotel chain that feeds the poor will get their attention faster than the one that has an under-water cocktail lounge.
Where will the millennial traveler hear about your brand? They are as likely to hear about you through a friend’s online review as they are from your Wall Street Journal ad. And guess which will have more sway?
The loyal, baby boomer frequent-customer is riding off into the sunset and your hospitality brand must adapt. Marketing to millennials is about more than re-skinning old tactics. It’s about fundamentally retooling our thinking. The hotels that do it best will reap the rewards.Looking for a branding agency with a wealth of hospitality experience? Contact us today toll-free at 866.642.7559.