Search Behavior of Millennial Hotel Consumers
The hospitality industry is a highly competitive business facing new challenges. With the success of so many up and coming “disruptive” business model marketing pushes, today’s hoteliers need to understand how the consumer is currently searching for accommodation. We have outlined a few trends in the behavior of millennials, in particular, as they are the up-and-coming big consumers.
5 Traits of Millennials
Still young enough not to have established a particular hotel brand, they’re very open to checking out new places and consider the unknown and adventure. That doesn’t mean they choose willy-nilly and hope for the best. Consider the following traits:
- High Technological ExpectationsBecause millennials grew up with instant technology connections, they expect instant results when using their tablets and phones. They like clean, concise but creative websites. They want simplified user interfaces and mobile integration. Multiple app usage is higher among Millennials than any other group.
- CollaborativeMillennials are naturally collaborative via technology and their consumerism isn’t silent. Their collaborative mindset leads them to rely on the opinions of others at extremely high rates. They regularly check Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Snapchat, and Instagram for reviews and photos. Positive reviews go a long way toward aiding their decision-making process.
- Social Media UseBecause of their collective mindset, they use plenty of social media. If they’re particularly thrilled or disappointed in something purchased, they will not hesitate to blog or start a conversation about it on multiple social media sites. Togetherness on social media is a constant with this group.
“We have seen an increase in photos of cocktails by the pool, selfies, and a rise in hashtag use. We have begun incorporating hashtags in our social media campaigns to reach this demographic,” says Leah Preston from staySky Hotels & Resorts.
- AdventurousMillennials tend to be more adventurous than their parents or grandparents. They also enjoy having the coolest social media posts. As a result, they want to travel further and experience more. It’s not enough to trek through museums, they want to see the exotic places and create experiences; bungee jumping in the jungles of Asia, parasailing in California, or partaking in a culinary journey. They’re constantly looking for new, trendy, different, and exotic experiences. They like to live out stories in their travels while posting about it every step of the way.>
- Civic ResponsibilityMillennials tend to appreciate civic responsibility in ways not seen in decades. More than 50% make efforts to buy products from companies that support the causes they care about. They’re concerned with political issues but tend to be single-minded toward one or two points rather than politics as a whole. They prefer ethical and honest business practices leading them to focus directly on positive, community-oriented marketing strategies. Millennials are generally curious about a company’s impact on the local economy and environment and that of the world at large.
HOW THEY SEARCH AND DECIDE
In the hotel industry, the competition offers a huge selection of properties. This leads consumers to constantly comparison shop, hoping to get more bang for their buck. However, too much choice isn’t always a good thing. It can lead to potential bookings being abandoned. Hotel comparison shopping was and still is largely based on price and millennials know that while the price is a large factor, they also care about the product. They are trying everything together, the hotel, the experience, and the story they hope to live out during their stay.
Here are a few ways they make a choice.
- Social triggers such as “share with a friend” coupon codes are big hits.
- They seek out and follow the advice of consumer testimonials and reviews.
- Real customer photos of the property are important because it keeps them from finding out the fantastic pool that looks huge in a travel ad is only 10 feet wide and 3 feet deep.
- MetaSearch engines are garnering more accurate results on a granular level allowing people to find incredible boutique hotels that otherwise might be missed in general searches.
- As millennials move up in their careers, the importance shifts from price comparison to product comparison. This further instills the idea of experience and story-based holidays.
Preston also stated, “We have had to tweak our social media marketing strategy to include Instagram to reach this demographic. Our new strategy includes contacting Instagram Celebrities and Influencers and inviting them to stay at our hotel. In exchange, we have these Influencers share pictures of our property with their followers on Instagram. This ensures reaching an audience of thousands or even millions.”
Millennials, as the newest big consumers challenge the traditional business, models. Businesses, especially hotels, can succeed if they understand and adapt to their particular consumer behaviors.
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Lani Gregory is a freelance digital marketing consultant as well as a digital analyst. Prior clients include Marriott hotels and Parenting magazine.
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