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Generational Shift: Evolving Hotel Distribution to Reach GenZ

GenZ represents a demographic that demands a fresh approach to marketing, booking, and selling hotel experiences.
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Travel distribution is constantly evolving, from the rise of online travel agencies (OTAs) to the emergence of metasearch engines and direct web bookings enabled by browser-based technology. Yet, as times continue to change, an exciting new opportunity is emerging for hoteliers – the rapidly growing GenZ market segment.

For several years, hoteliers have been waiting for GenZ’s spending power to increase, but with its oldest members turning 26 this year, that time has very much arrived.

However, anyone thinking they can rely solely on traditional distribution methods to reach GenZ needs to think again. GenZ represents a demographic that demands a fresh approach to marketing, booking, and selling hotel experiences. Their behaviours differ significantly from previous generations, with a marked reliance on social media and a unique approach to travel planning. In fact, research has shown that four in ten Gen Zs use social media to plan a vacation – higher than those above the age of 25 (29%) and even superseding sources such as getting information from friends and family (35%) and online random searches (32%).

Members of GenZ are effectively taking on the role of being their own travel agents, using social media and other online platforms to research, book and curate unique experiences for themselves and their friends. As part of this, they place significant emphasis on real-world reviews and relatable travel opinions, incorporating multiple viewpoints in their research before making final decisions.

If traditional distribution methods won’t work – or at least aren’t sufficiently tailored to have a commercial impact with this new audience – how can hoteliers effectively target this increasingly influential demographic?

In many cases, hotel brands must proactively implement specific changes if they wish to appeal to GenZ bookers, some of which may require stepping out of their comfort zone. Below are three key areas where a renewed focus is required:

  1. Maintaining an active and engaging social media presence

When it comes to reaching GenZ, social media is a powerful place to start. As such, hoteliers need to double down on their social media presence, ensuring content both active and engaging, as well as giving viewers direct pathways to related pricing and booking options. While the Holy Grail of going viral remains impossible to successfully predict, carefully curated content, posted at a regular cadence, can act as a significant hook for the millions of GenZ travellers perusing social media every day, making it an increasingly important tool in every hotelier’s arsenal.

  1. Effectively monitoring and managing online reputation

Online reputation management goes hand in hand with maintaining a positive social media presence. In today’s society, many brands live and die by their online reputations and studies show that negative reviews can quickly start to damage a business’s reputation, particularly if they go unanswered or unheeded. Effective monitoring and management of reputation can help to mitigate against potential damage, while also giving hoteliers a voice in any online conversations surrounding their brand, both positive and negative.

  1. Underpinning everything with the right technology

Today, there are technology solutions that have been specifically created to do the heavy lifting for hoteliers when it comes to effective distribution that targets demographics like GenZ, helping them be in the right places, at the right times, to clinch all-important sales. Hoteliers need latest platforms that strike a balance between precision and control over complex pricing and merchandising processes, aligning each channel offer with individual guest experiences. These platforms empower them to execute and automate a sophisticated strategy of “demand management” for key group segments, dynamically tailoring room offers and on-site experiences across a wide range of key channels, including social media.

With GenZ rapidly coming of age, any hotelier not actively targeting this demographic is likely to already be missing out on significant revenue generation opportunities. Effective targeting requires a properly tailored distribution strategy and investment in the right technology but doing so will pay huge dividends in the months and years to come.

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