Millennial Marketing 101 for Hotels

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Millennial Marketing 101 for Hotels

By Mark Lewis-Brown, CEO & President of Vertical Booking USA - 07/15/2019

Millennial, Millennial, Millennial… It seems like it’s the word of the day year.

But it does makes sense that we would be talking about Millennials so often. They are the largest generation in history (92 million potential guests!) and with an overwhelming desire to travel, they are a hugely profitable demographic for all hotels.

That being said, Millennials do come with their share of industry-changing, often-confusing travel preferences, which has led many hoteliers to wonder:

“How can I make my property more attractive to Millennials online & increase bookings with this valuable market? I’m not a tech wizard so I’m concerned about how bookings are trending toward online and mobile, with everything needing to be done quickly, easily, often at the last-minute and available 24/7.”

I hear you and totally empathize with everything that you’re going through; I also know that thousands (maybe even millions) of other hoteliers are all wondering the exact same thing, right now.

We all know the basics about the Millennials from the many surveys/studies that have been published about their booking habits and preferences, but let’s do a quick recap before we get into the good stuff:

  • Millennials want experiences, not just a regular hotel stay.
  • Millennials have money to spend on exciting experiences, but they are still looking for a good deal; that being said, many will be willing to pay more to stay at an environmentally-conscious hotel.
  • As a demographic, Millennials are highly influenced by social media when choosing their next travel destination/hotel, making them valuable brand ambassadors for your hotel.
  • Millennials have also led a dramatic shift towards mobile booking and other innovative, online booking channels, with bookings made on the day-of travel.

So, how do you get more Millennials to book with your property on their next trip?

There are three ways to boost your property’s visibility to the Millennial audience – both online and on the apps – and turn those lookers into bookers, with only a few updates in your property’s technology and strategy (and no added technology headaches).

Update #1: Use ALL of the tools available to you

It seems kind of redundant but I’m going to say it anyway: The very first update to your property’s distribution strategy must be to get your rooms listed on each and every channel that the Millennial market knows, loves and uses to book hotel rooms.

I have heard all of the arguments against these channels – high commission rates, the requirement to offer huge discounts, confusing technology, etc. – but, at the end of the day, here’s an important truth you MUST hear: If you are not listed on their favorite booking channels, you won’t get bookings from Millennials or anyone else who uses those channels.

Update #2: The right technology will actually eliminate all of your tech headaches

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s impossible for a person (or even a team) to manually manage ALL of the reservations coming in from different distribution channels, 24/7.

That’s why technology is (or should be) your BFF.

I’m also here to reassure you that using technology doesn’t have to be intimidating or overly complicated, and it definitely doesn’t require you to know anything about coding – if you are using the right technology.

The right technology also offers easy upselling features to increase the revenue earned on each booking, like OTA rate comparison pop-ups, persuasive messaging and tagging, the ability to offer secret locked deals to specific customers, an abandoned cart recovery tool, a tool to check your competitor’s rates and a metasearch management tool. All of these features, built into your CRS, will help you increase your property’s occupancy, ADR and RevPAR, especially with the Millennial market.

So, now we know… by using the right technology to manage your reservations, upselling to your guests, managing your listings on all of the different online channels and more (seriously, technology can do it all!), you can step back and trust that your hotel will get as many bookings as possible, via the most profitable channel(s), without the risk of overbooking or human error looming over your head.

Update #3: Think like a Millennial

As I mentioned earlier in this article, Millennials are in search of the perfect experience when planning a trip. They don’t just want a room and bed; It’s all about an experience that they can share on the Gram, to inspire FOMO in all of their friends and followers.

(You know about FOMO, right? FOMO is Millennial speak for Fear of Missing Out – and it’s a huge factor in Millennials’ decision-making on travel experiences – so it should be an important consideration when marketing your rooms to Millennials.)

It’s not enough to say that you have a spa and pool; Millennials respond more to showing than telling. If your pool is your standout feature, use beautiful images and videos to make Millennial guests picture themselves sitting poolside, sipping a margarita and taking a gorgeous, FOMO-worthy selfie. Once you make Millennials develop that emotional connection to your property, you will turn those Millennial lookers into bookers.

One last thing: to really engage Millennials, you need to be on Instagram.

I know it’s exhausting to think about implementing a brand-new marketing strategy, especially one so dominated by youngsters. Never fear - I’m here to tell you that your social media strategy doesn’t have to be super complicated; you don’t need to post brand-new photos and video every single day but, by regularly posting emotionally inspiring photos and/or videos (and re-sharing all posts/stories that mention/tag your property), you will see a dramatic increase in your Millennial conversion rates.

Here’s an example of a hotel that knows how to sell their property on Instagram: The Jupiter Hotel in Portland, USA (@jupiterhotel). Do as they do, and you’ll be attracting more Millennials (to your property), all day, every day; that’s the power of the Gram.

So, are you feeling more ready to embrace the Millennial market? Trust me, once you go Millennial, you’ll never go back (simply, because of the sheer volume of Millennial travelers booking hotel stays, each and every day, and the potential revenue that they offer your property). After all… “dolla dolla bills, y’all.”

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