The average 25-year old won’t remember the world where the internet wasn’t a part of their daily life. Today, when travelers can do anything from order a taxi to make an international bank transfer with a few taps on their smartphone, it’s not surprising that their expectations for the hospitality industry are different to those of their parents.
Gone is the age of the fully-stocked minibar, guest room alarm clock and well-thumbed paper hotel directory in every room.
In their place, modern traveler expects a hotel experience that looks just as connected and seamless as their Facebook account or Amazon order history.
This aspiration, though, is not one easily met. Gallup reported in 2016 that only 20% of Millennials consider themselves “fully engaged” by hotel stays--the lowest of any generation. The potential rewards of boosting engagement are substantial: the disengaged guest spends $185 less on average at a hotel.
Millennials were the only generation to tell Gallup that reliable wi-fi connection was more important to them than responsive hotel employees. Modern hotel guests turn on wifi within seven minutes, on average, of checking in. The foundation of any successful approach to an engaging modern traveler is connectivity, and this isn’t a small problem. handy’s own survey data suggests that 40% of hotel guests find connecting to the internet difficult or somewhat difficult.
If hotels spend countless valuable dollars ensuring the seamless restaurant, spa and television experiences but ignore the internet, they risk depriving guests of the bread and butter of their professional and personal lives.
Yet connectivity outside the hotel matters too. 28% guests surveyed by
Such connectivity is a key element of handy’s appeal to guests, yet the numbers speak to a much broader issue: Hotels cannot pretend to be adequately serving their guests’ needs without intuitive and convenient solutions for internet access.
2. Convenience and Personalisation
For a generation that views their smartphone as the gateway to nearly any imaginable service, an exclusively analog approach to room access, in-room dining, tour booking and every other service a hotel might offer seems clunky and unintuitive.
Meanwhile, online check-in is rapidly becoming an expectation, not a luxury. Soon, the notion of having to go to the front desk or dial a number on the in-room phone to book a tour will seem quaint at best and unappealing at worst.
Beyond even this, today’s modern travelers are used to being treated as individuals by companies they interact with. Messages more often than ever before will greet customers by name, and tailor their offerings to their particular interests and aims.
3. Online Presence
Though recommendations friends and family are still the dominant way customers find hotels, more and more millennials are planning their trips online. They turn to websites like TripAdvisor to find an unbiased assessment of a hotel’s strengths and weaknesses and use online travel agencies like booking.com more often than hotel websites to place their reservation.
To even get a foot in the door with these customers, hotels need more than just an incidental online presence. They need an actively thought-through strategy to manage their online footprint.
The stakes are not low; research from Cornell University indicates that a 1% increase in online review scores corresponds to a 0.89% increase in a hotel’s average daily rate. Unnecessary bad reviews cost money, and there are profits to be made by ensuring that a hotel looks its best for online audiences.
The most digitally engaged travelers are the likeliest not only to read reviews online but also to write them. The best way to ensure that these online reviews are what your hotel deserves, however, is by offering the best possible service to the needs of the modern digital traveler.
Last year, Millennials became the largest demographic group in the US, and their domination of the workforce is continuing apace. With a few well-judged improvements, however, the hotel industry can move from being a victim of technological advancement to a beneficiary of it.
Technological solutions exist, and so do the guests that demand them. But it’s up to every hotel to put them together and move at full throttle into the age of the digital modern traveler.