Positioning their properties for the future, hoteliers are focusing on the next generation of business travelers: millennials. This generation—a group born between 1980 and 2000 that numbers about 77 million—characterized by their devotion to technology expect hotels to provide unique experiences and environments, and cater to their desire for an on-demand lifestyle.
A recent SmartBrief webinar, “The Guest Experience: Top Trends to Look for in 2015,” presented by The Wall Street Journal, explored several hotel trends including how hotels are adapting to millennials’ needs. Hotel executives from leading brands as well as hospitality research and market experts who shared their insights into the financial health of the industry and trends in supply that will affect it in the next year.
The webinar drew an engaged audience who submitted dozens of questions for the panelists. In the interest of keeping the conversation going, we followed up on one particularly good question about hotels and millennials: “How much is the ‘focus on millennials’ really more of an overall cultural shift for travelers to seek more authentic, connected and social travel experiences? Are Gen X and Boomers consciously avoiding that type of experience?”
We asked panelist Craig Greenberg, the president of 21c Museum Hotels, to provide an answer. “It’s a misconception that the millennial mindset is limited to a particular age bracket,” Greenberg said. “At 21c, I don’t think I’ve even ever heard the word ‘millennial’ used in a meeting. However, I think that others in the industry now use ‘millennial’ as a catchall buzzword for the future of travel. For us, it’s about the traveler who is curious, deeply passionate, and looking for something different on their travels — whether that is about art, great food, perfectly made cocktails, interesting people or all of the above.”
21c Museum Hotels, which has three properties open and two in the pipeline, focuses on all of those things across its portfolio. The art-themed hotels attract guests covering a range of ages and gives them interesting things to experience—not to mention tweet about or post on Instagram—through engaging contemporary artwork, local and seasonal food and beverage, and regular cultural programming.
“I think those who focus narrowly on millennials are probably those who will have the most difficult time connecting with them,” Greenberg continued. “It will likely be forced and ineffective.”