Millennial Traveler Expectations Direct the Future of Lodging Industry

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

What’s more important to millennials than escaping from their student loans, buying a big-ticket item, or even improving relationships with their family and friends?

If you guessed travel, you’d be correct.

The millennial generation is known for placing a high emphasis on being unique, and a major part of that is growing their identity through culturally rich experiences and exploration of the unknown – both of which travel provides in full.

In fact, our research found that millennials regard travel and travel-related activities as vital to their overall personal growth and development. Millennials want to travel so they can learn something new through immersive, interactive and hands-on activities – emphasizing their complete shift from badge products to badge experiences.

For the traditional lodging industry, this shift is proving to be a significant challenge as the industry overall attempts to attract new customers without losing the loyalty of long-time guests. In order to stay competitive, brands in the space will be required to take action and soon, as disruptor brands such as Airbnb are resonating highly with all travelers. From 2014 to 2015 alone, Airbnb saw revenue and bookings double, resulting in an increase of value to $25.5 billion as of June 2016.

As outlined in our latest report, The Millennial Brief on Travel & Lodging, the first step for lodging brands to develop an effective plan of action in this regard is to truly dig into the tensions that exist in the space for millennial travelers. These tensions serve as a foundation for better understanding their overall motivations when it comes to travel planning and booking, as well as a look into their potential consumer journeys.

These tensions are:

  • Comfortable vs. Experiential: Millennials juggle what they are expected to do (e.g., visit the Eiffel Tower while in Paris) with potential ways to get out of their comfort zones (e.g., visiting a family-owned farm for a taste of Fermier cheese).
  • Digital vs. In Real Life: Millennials want to find balance between sharing experiences on social networks (posting a picture of that cheese to Instagram) with living in the moment and not being distracted by daily technologies (savoring the flavor without being distracted by how many likes that picture got).
  • Realistic vs. Aspirational: Millennials attempt to remain cognizant of what they can afford (one block of cheese is satisfactory) while finding ways to get what they want (but the special priced two-for-one deal would be a great gift for mom and dad).
  • Planned vs. Spontaneous: Millennials always have a full itinerary (hence Eiffel and the farm), but they make an effort to take advantage of in-the-moment opportunities by allocating time for impulses (why not make time for an impromptu wine tasting?).
  • Informed vs. Inspired: Millennials rely on brands for transparency and accuracy in the space (i.e., the French wine tasted like French wine), but they also desire brands to inspire and surprise them (wine ice cream, anyone?).

Once lodging brands understand these tensions, they will be able to identify where they fit best in the schema of millennial travelers and the ways they can effectively appeal to this group. The brands that succeed will understand that they must offer the traditional comforts of a hotel experience while enabling guests the ability to act like a local, build connected experiences without overloading, be cost-effective with the right opportunities for millennials to splurge, pack in a variety of opportunities with the ability for last-minute decisions and remain honest and reliable without foregoing adventure and excitement.

CLICK HERE to download The Millennial Brief on Travel & Lodging.

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.