Switch to #MIL­LEN­NIAL MODE

The mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion has pushed the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try across the globe to change its tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing ways and con­nect with guests on var­i­ous so­cial me­dia plat­forms for greater reach and im­pact.

TravTalk - India - - HOTEL TALK - AHANA GURUNG

One may think that the buzz cre­ated by mil­len­ni­als is slightly over­rated with ev­ery move of in­di­vid­u­als aged 18-34 be­ing mon­i­tored – What do they like? How do they travel? Where do they go? Ser­vice providers dig­ging deep into the nitty-grit­ties are tweak­ing their of­fer­ings to make ev­ery­thing more mil­len­nial-friendly, and for good rea­son. The United Na­tions World Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tion (UNWTO) es­ti­mates around 20 per cent of global trav­ellers to be young, con­tribut­ing a huge chunk of tourism rev­enue, who also tend to stay longer and in­ter­act more closely with the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties than av­er­age tourists. Mil­len­ni­als are al­most twice as likely than non-mil­len­ni­als to travel for a hobby, and ex­plore more for things like food and wine, en­ter­tain­ment, shop­ping and out­door ac­tiv­ity, ac­cord­ing to a re­search by the Bos­ton Con­sult­ing Group. By 2020, 320 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional trips are ex­pected to be made by youth trav­ellers each year, high­lights a re­port by WYSE Travel Con­fed­er­a­tion, giv­ing tes­ti­mony to the fact that mil­len­ni­als are the de­mo­graphic to be looked out for. Mil­len­ni­als, with their tech-savvy and con­tem­po­rary ways are chang­ing the dy­nam­ics of the in­dus­try and ser­vice providers are scram­bling to adapt and evolve.The shar­ing econ­omy was one of the as­pects that took the world by sur­prise and lifted off as a re­sult of the mil­len­nial wave with ag­gre­ga­tors like Air BnB cash­ing in. The ac­com­mo­da­tion shar­ing com­pany is pro­jected to touch as much as $8.5 bil­lion by 2020 in rev­enue. How­ever, such con­se­quences have com­pelled ho­tels to change their strate­gies to stay rel­e­vant to the chang­ing times and many have em­ployed an over­haul in their ap­proach, vibe and ser­vices.

TECH­NOL­OGY IS KING

Tech­nol­ogy is in­deed a key dif­fer­en­tia­tor in the race for ap­peal­ing to the mil­len­ni­als and plays a very cru­cial role. It’s no sur­prise that you in­stantly recog­nise a mil­len­nial with their head bent down, en­grossed in their smart phones. Find­ings from the Ex­pe­dia Mil­len­nial Sur­vey 2017 show that 94 per cent use smart phones, while an­other 56 per cent make use of com­puter tablets. Brands like Aloft Ho­tels are look­ing to grab a piece of the pie by up­ping their tech­nol­ogy game and cater­ing to their high-tech needs, be it for busi­ness or for leisure. From a state-of-the-art work space with com­pli­men­tary Wi-Fi, Aloft also of­fers en­ter­tain­ment ameni­ties like plug-&-play dock­ing sta­tions and a one-stop con­nec­tiv­ity so­lu­tion for mul­ti­ple elec­tronic gad­gets like PDAs, cell phones and lap­tops, all linked to a 42” LCD TV. Faiz Alam Ansari, Com­plex Gen­eral Man­ager, Aloft Ben­galuru Cessna Busi­ness Park, throws more light on the re­quire­ments and says, “Un­der­stand­ing the needs of the mil­len­nial trav­eller, we also pro­vide SPG key­less check in, where with a swipe on your smart­phone, you can gain ac­cess to you room. They main­tain a high pref­er­ence on the avail­abil­ity of tech­nol­ogy, along with easy-to-reach out­lets in the rooms and a lounge or lobby area con­ducive to work­ing are cru­cial el­e­ments as well.” Radis­son Red, a new off­spring of the Carl­son Rezi­dor Group has been cu­rated keep­ing in mind the age­less mil­len­nial mind­set and of­fers a cus­tomis­able ex­pe­ri­ence driven by tech­nol­ogy. The RED App lets guests avoid queues by check­ing in and out and us­ing their smart­phone for se­cure key­less en­try to their rooms while guests can place an or­der to the in-house restau­rant and

pay through the app. Guests can also re­quest ho­tel ser­vices with the click of a but­ton and a chat fea­ture al­lows them to con­nect with other guests to see the lo­cal nightlife or share a ride to the air­port.

NEW CON­CEPT, NEW PHI­LOS­O­PHY

Tar­get­ing a spe­cific seg­ment also en­tails the need of a dif­fer­ent feel to the prop­erty to make the guest ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing out of the or­di­nary with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the com­fort and the qual­ity. While there are some who opt for high-end lux­ury, a large por­tion of mil­len­ni­als pre­fer bud­get ac­com­mo­da­tion and al­ter­nate op­tions. A rel­a­tively new con­cept of pod ho­tels (not that new in Asian coun­tries like Ja­pan) has en­tered the In­dian mar­ket with the first of its kind in Mum­bai. Ur­ban­pod opened its doors from March 2017 and has been tar­get­ing mil­len­ni­als and busi­ness trav­ellers with its fu­tur­is­tic pods, pub­lic net­work­ing spa­ces and eco­nom­i­cal rates. Sha­l­abh Mit­tal, one of the brains be­hind Ur­ban­pod com­ments, “We strongly feel that there is a sheer-ne­ces­sity for such Pod Ho­tels in In­dia, more so in a busy metro like Mum­bai with the kind of peak pas­sen­ger-traf­fic it wit­nesses, cou­pled with its high-rentals and its shrink­ing-spa­ces.” “Whether it’s hy­giene, free break­fast, free Wi-Fi, area to so­cialise, satel­lite tele­vi­sion, tech­nol­ogy

fea­tures in the pod and most im­por­tantly, the right price point, mil­len­ni­als are ex­tremely value driven and avoid spend­ing too much,” adds Hiren Gandhi, Co-founder and Di­rec­tor, Ur­ban­pod. Elab­o­rat­ing on this, TJ Joulak, Gen­eral Man­ager, W Goa states, “Mil­len­ni­als are all about liv­ing in the mo­ment, they are al­ways look­ing for what’s next and new, some­thing which the brand also be­lieves in. Their need of know­ing more and not set­tling for just one thing is met through our brand pil­lar – W Insider, which en­sures ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ences for the guests and gives the right in­side knowl­edge of the hottest hap­pen­ings in Goa. This is per­fect for the mil­len­nial cul­ture and ex­actly what they want in a va­ca­tion.” One of the other strate­gic moves by W Goa in­clude us­ing video and dig­i­tal con­tent to tell a story that re­lates to them, and get in­flu­encers to talk about the ex­pe­ri­ence that re­volves around the prop­erty and the desti­na­tion.

DO IT FOR THE GRAM

Up­load­ing photograph­s on In­sta­gram and Face­book are the norm which is why sev­eral prop­er­ties are im­bib­ing ways to make ev­ery­thing ‘In­sta­gram­wor­thy’. Ansari points out, “Aloft Ben­galuru Cessna Busi­ness Park taps this fea­ture ef­fec­tively by in­stalling an ac­tual, life-size Cessna air­craft hang­ing above the lobby. The guests watch it in awe as this unique and funky fea­ture is not avail­able in any other ho­tel.” Radis­son Red has an in­terac­tive dig­i­tal wall at the cen­tre of the lobby which dis­plays so­cial me­dia and en­ter­tain­ment con­tent. Guests are en­cour­aged to post and in­ter­act with a touch-screen dig­i­tal wall. W Goa has ac­tively em­braced this con­cept as well and Joulak de­clares it is all about shar­ing the ex­cit­ing mo­ments through posts or live sto­ries. He says, “These chan­nels are ben­e­fi­cial in keep­ing the ex­ist­ing guests in­formed about ex­clu­sive hap­pen­ings at the prop­erty and en­tic­ing them to join in to cre­ate some mem­o­rable mo­ments.”

Guests can avoid queues by check­ing in and out us­ing the RED App on their smart­phones

Brands like Aloft Ho­tels are look­ing to grab a piece of the pie by up­ping their tech­nol­ogy game

Sev­eral prop­er­ties are im­bib­ing ways to make ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence at the ho­tel ‘In­sta­gram-wor­thy’

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