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Closing the Deal with Gen Zs

Gen Z travelers a hugely valuable demographic for today’s hotels. If you set-up your hotel’s offerings and tech stack properly, these avid travelers could be your sweet spot for the coming months and years.
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Take sustainability seriously or don’t use it as a marketing message because it will only work against you with Gen Z travelers.
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Although they would like to deny it, Gen Zs and Millennials do have one very important thing (for you!) in common: just like the Millennials before them, Gen Zs are highly motivated by travel and will spend as much of their disposable income on it as possible.

Don’t believe me?

Check out these stats from a recent article by Morning Consult:

  • "52% of Gen Z adults are frequent travelers, taking at least three leisure trips in the past year. That share is significantly larger than it is for higher-earning Gen Xs and Baby Boomers, and it’s on par with Millennials... As Gen Zs age and grow in spending power, they will likely outpace travel-happy Millennials."

This makes Gen Z travelers a hugely valuable demographic for today’s hotels, especially in a time when inflation is leading to skyrocketing prices and a looming recession can make other demographics feel uncertain about booking travel. If you set-up your hotel’s offerings and tech stack properly, these avid travelers could be your sweet spot (revenue-wise) for the coming months and years.

So, what is it that Gen Z travelers are really looking for and how can you give them more of what they want?

Literally… Just give them what they want

Even more than past generations, Gen Z are very motivated by customized, original, social media worthy experiences, much more than luxury or possessions, which is why travel ranks so highly on their favorites list. So, your role, as the savvy hotelier that you are, is to create reasons for Gen Z travelers to choose your property over other ones by creating packages or on-site offerings that they just can’t say no to, like The Jupiter Hotel in Portland, Oregon does.

The Jupiter Hotel has done a fantastic job of creating a space in which Gen Zs will feel right at home, from the décor to the creative package offerings – think stays devoted to weed, sexy time, music/festivals, etc. – and the strategy has worked wonders for their bottom line:

“We’ve seen fantastic results since implementing our new Gen Z-friendly packages and experience-focused service offerings,” said Nick Pearson, General Manager at The Jupiter Hotel. “Gen Z, as hotel consumers, are really interested in what makes your property different and unique, but also really price conscious. Growing up with the internet, they are accustomed to total price transparency and will book wherever they find the best rate + experience combo. To capture this market and drive loyalty, parity becomes incredibly important, along with interesting experiential direct booking incentives.”

Another very important part of Gen Zs’ lives are their dog-babies and, as dog-babies, they often travel with their Gen Z parents. This is another HUGE opportunity for your hotel to attract Gen Z travelers and their beloved pets: dog-friendly stays. I don’t just mean the old school “yes, bring your dog and it will cost you $50” experience; I mean a real immersive experience that integrates the dog into their trip and offers extra perks for their furry best friends.

Pup welcome packages (treats, a ball, a list of dog parks nearby, etc.); an adorable dog bed that fits your room’s décor and begs for a social post; and dog-friendly activities, such as dog yoga and dog-friendly cafés and restaurants, etc., are all things that will make Gen Z’s dogs feel welcome and, in return, Gen Zs will love you right back!

And the best part… these specialized packages are only available through the direct channel, giving potential guests a VERY good reason to click away from the OTAs and book directly for these extra perks and packages. Win/win/win!

But to make all these package options and perks available, your operational technology needs to be able to support this type of customization, which brings us to…

Booking engine basics

Of course, your booking engine is the way that you make all this customization possible; a legacy solution just doesn’t have the flexibility and the back-end customization necessary to make all these Gen Z-friendly options possible. You need a sophisticated booking engine with the ability to create customized packages, multiple room types and add-on optional upgrades, while also creating a very user-friendly booking experience (Gen Z travelers won’t wait for slow-loading pages or go through an endless checkout process).

Part of giving potential guests the best booking experience is showing them that they are getting the best deal for their room; that’s why your booking engine should also offer an OTA rate comparison tool, which shows the current rates offered for your rooms on the top OTAs to show the potential guest that they are making the right choice in booking, directly, with you.

Finally, we mentioned earlier how social media is an important part of how Gen Z travelers research and plan their trips, so you should be linking directly to your booking engine from your social media posts, making it easy to inspire lookers to become bookers, with a single click.

Taking sustainability seriously… No seriously, really seriously

It’s been widely discussed that Gen Z travelers are very conscious of the environmental impact that their travel choices have on the planet but just saying that your hotel is “going green” and making small, non-impactful changes isn’t enough; in fact, you could be turning them off by launching a huge marketing campaign about your sustainability measures (a.k.a.“greenwashing”) – unless you are the real deal.

Gen Z often scrutinize the hotels where they stay to ensure that they are sustainable – especially if it's being splashed all over their marketing materials – across all aspects of their operations, from enabling guests to opt out of washing towels daily, to removing all plastic from room service and restaurants, to making facility updates to maximize energy efficiency, and more.

Take sustainability seriously or don’t use it as a marketing message because it will only work against you with Gen Z travelers.

Now that you know how to close the deal with Gen Zs, you have everything you need to start attracting this valuable demographic. So, get started today; after all, who can say “no” to consistent profitability, no matter how the economy changes over the coming months and years?!

About the Author

Mark Lewis-Brown is  CEO & President of Zucchetti North America.

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