Category Archives: Marketing to Gen Y

3 Trends to Help Understand Millennial Travelers

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Millennials are constantly changing the way marketers look at the business landscape, and the travel industry is no exception to this rule.  These current 20-34 year olds represent the next rising wave of consumers across the globe, but what does this mean for your business?

Millennials bring their own unique set of expectations, behaviors and preferences in what they want and how they want it, and this extends to their travel experiences.

As an example, millennial travelers are quick to seek out the wireless connection upon arrival to the hotel while other travelers might make decompressing from their travels a priority.  Going hand-in-hand with this, while other travelers might collect stories to share one-on-one when they return home, younger travelers tell their stories online in real-time as they travel from one point to the next.

Skift and Amadeus, two leading travel industry news and research resources recently released three trends to help property owners and managers better understand this unique age group and their travel needs.

1. Explorers, Never Tourists
Millennials travelers want to explore their destinations and hate the idea of being considered tourists.  These travelers crave adventure and see out unique authentic  experiences while traveling.  ResortsandLodges.com travelers are no different.  Our travelers are not trying to book a room, they want to plan and book an experience.

Many millennials are craving adventure and seek out unique and authentic experiences while traveling.  Instead of taking the elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, a millennial traveler will likely take the stairs and share a self-designed photo collage of the path to the top on Instagram.

2. Customization is Key
Millennial travelers favor an a la carte menu of logistics, amenities, and activities when planning their trip to create a highly personalized experience.  According to Skift, they value a distinctive experience that aligns with their individual identity and to display on social media.  They seek a stimulating “touch and feel” environment that still takes them to a different world.  This often includes unique excursions and international destinations that allow them to establish credibility on a subject or region.  Being able to share a display this knowledge and skill set publicly is of high value.

In addition to taking a customized trip, millennial travelers expect travel brands to provide them with personalized content, from airfare, accommodations and beyond.  For travel brand, along with price and value considerations, this personalized interaction is key to relationship building and increases the likelihood that the traveler will return on their next trip.

3. Technology Enables Communication and More
It’s no surprise this generation of travelers is more tech-savvy.  Having grown up with mobile devices and enhanced technology for the past decade or more, this group realizes the importance of communication through social media in an attempt to keep in touch with close friends and family.

Technology also provides an added sense of power as millennials access vast amounts of information any time they desire.  They can be savvy consumers in an unfamiliar destination by comparing prices, reading reviews and getting tips from blogs during their trip.

Millennial travelers are most comfortable combining the “best of both worlds” as they are channel agnostic.  They want the speed and convenience of an online purchase, and also value the comfort and security that constant connectivity brings, in the event they need assistance while traveling.

Marriott Announces #LoveTravels Campaign

LoveTravels

Travel and hospitality industry experts are always looking for a developing demographic whose attention they feel it is important to attract.  Marriott Hotels is hoping to accomplish this with their most recent social media campaign #LoveTravels.

The effort is a collaboration between Marriott Creative Agency and photographer Braden Summers featuring LGBT celebrities like Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins and fashion model Geena Rocero.

This campaign is part of Marriott’s new LGBT social media and marketing campaign and seeks to “share exclusive and powerful images celebrating inclusion.”  The images featured in the campaign will be displayed as building wraps at six hotels in Washington D.C., a series of print ads in LGBT media, an online portrait gallery and display ads in cities throughout the country.

“Braden’s work so beautifully illustrates the inclusiveness and equality that we embrace,” said Kristine Friend, a senior marketing director at Marriott.  “We are committed to ensuring that all of our guests feel comfortable at all of our hotels and are proud to stay with Marriott.”

“#LoveTravels is a universal theme we believe is shared by all cultures and communities and truly represents our company’s philosophy and values.  We also want to encourage our guests and travelers around the world to share their own journey and story through #LoveTravels @MarriottIntl,” added Friend.

“We see #Love Travels as a universal, multicultural theme that appeals to communities throughout the world, resonating with consumers around the globe and especially with Millennials and next generation travelers who value inclusiveness,” Karin Timpone, Marriott’s global marketing officer said in a statement.

The campaign’s release coincides with Pride events in Washington, San Francisco and New York City.

To learn more about Marritt’s featured destinations and information for LGBT travelers, click here.

Photos the Top Content In Facebook Feeds

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When you log into your Facebook account today, take notice of the most common posts on your Facebook Feed.  Chances are you will see plenty of images from friends, family and businesses promoting their goods.

Almost all smart phones these days have cameras, and the idea of one-hour photo booths seems almost comical at this point.  Photo sharing has become an integral part of the social media landscape thanks to the creation of Instagram, a channel dedicated specifically to this activity.

According to March 2014 research by Socialbakers.com, photos were the most common content posted on Facebook pages, accounting for 75% of posts worldwide.  In comparison, second-place links claimed just 10% of posts. Continue reading

Is the Keyless Key the End of Hospitality?

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If you own a smartphone, the next time you travel you may not need a key for your hotel room. In fact, you may be able to bypass the registration desk altogether.

This is not a new concept to the ResortsandLodges.com blog.  In a recent post, we discussed the merits of streamlining the check-in process with mobile options or check-in kiosks, which both allow travelers to avoid the waiting game involved with traditional check-in options.

Brandon Ambrosino recently wrote an article for Quartz, a global online news briefing service, discussing how the disappearance of the room key marks the end of hospitality as we know it.

A virtual key is the latest innovation for an industry that prizes efficiency of service.  However, the move is also a departure from what guests really want in a hotel stay: personalization.

Research shows that travelers are looking for a more personalized experience.  The millennial generation is looking for a unique travel experience, and views personalization as a way to build loyalty with a given property.

In a recent Forbes article, Micah Solomon argues that what customers are looking for is humanity and personalization, not just more efficiency.  Such experiences are predicated upon human interaction.

Ambrosino notes that a keyless key is a reversal from this customized interaction and a return to standardized automation.  He also recognizes that the hotel industry has always had to navigate the fine line between these two poles.

A Brief History of Hotel Room Keys

The forms of hotel room keys have varied greatly since the Le Grand Hotel, the world’s first hotel, was constructed in 1862.  At that time, metal keys were the standard and were kept at the front desk on an oversized key ring.  This was a time when keys were not allowed the leave the property.

A lawsuit in the 1970’s placed hotel security under scrutiny while forcing hoteliers to turn to the keycard.  Electronic keycards were created in 1978 and initially sold to Atlanta’s Westin Peachtree Plaza.

Even though keycards were a step toward practical efficiency, guests still had to interact with the hotel staff in order to check-in and pick up their card.  Although these conversations typically brief and predictable, they set the tone for the remainder of the stay.  To this day, hotels like the Ritz in London continue to use metal keys, in part to ensure friendly interaction between hotel guests and staff.

Three Key Points

-Acquiring room keys from a hotel front desk during the check-in process creates an initial contact point between the traveler and the hotel guest.  The advent of keyless keys takes away this potential contact and takes some personalization away from the experience.

-Modern travelers trending away from the traditional hotel experience, and are looking for a unique and personalized experience.  To millennial travelers, personalization equals loyalty.

-It will be important for hoteliers to balance personalization with efficiency to meet guest expectations in the future.

Using YouTube to Generate Bookings

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Content may be king of the marketing world, but the modern consumer is less interested in text-based advertisements and more interested in video.

The video content site YouTube claims to host more than one billion unique user visits to its website each month.  These one billion viewers spend more than six billion hours watching videos.  These numbers may seem astounding and nearly incomprehensible, but it follows the trend of a tech-savvy population looking for the quickest and easiest way to digest information.

Nielsen, a company known for producing television ratings, has noted that YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network.  Seeing that this age group, commonly referred to as Generation Y or Millennials, will become the core customer within the hospitality and travel industries over the next five to 10 years, it is important to understand the best way to reach them.

If these numbers are accurate and video marketing is the key to attracting attention of hospitality’s largest audience going forward, why is video so underutilized today?

According to DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive, hoteliers simply “need guidance as to how to create videos for search engine marketing and guest engagement.”

Marketers must continue the evolution from keyword proficiency, to content-driven marketing that helped maximize search results for websites.  Now similar practices will be required to optimize video.

Valluri believes that the best way of turning lookers into bookers is found in delivering creative, yet relevant, content that informs and entertains travelers and prospective guests, and there is no better vehicle to do that than video.

Why is Video Effective?

“Authentic, compelling and informative video content will entice travelers and convey a hotel’s unique experiences to online visitors,” said Valluri.  “A video embedded on the homepage of a hotel’s website and also uploaded to YouTube and the other leading social media channels can be what sets your property apart from other destinations.  Video conveys visual and emotional touch points which are present in almost every travel offering, and that is what drives bookings.”

Facts and Stats About Video

-Bookings are 67% more likely to happen when a video tour of your property is available.

-Internet shoppers who view your video are 89% more likely to book.

-Google purchased YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion when the video site was only a year old.

-Both Google and YouTube offer tools such as “Google Trends” and “YouTube Videos Keyword Tool” to help hoteliers identify keywords to use in video titles.

- When it comes to engagement, Comscore says online video is 5.33 times more effective than text, and, site visitors who view video stay two minutes longer on average and are 64% closer to purchase.

Three Keys for Effective Video Marketing in the Hospitality Industry

1) Increase Awareness

2) Generate Buzz

3) Boost Bookings

To read more about the role of video marketing going forward, click here.

Personalization Equals Loyalty with Millennials

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A key question facing hoteliers and property managers in today’s travel landscape is how to build loyalty with the millennial generation.  Points-based loyalty programs are proving ineffective in capturing this ever growing demographic, so what is the answer to building this important connection?

Panelists at the 2014 Americas Lodging Investment Summit recently dove into this topic and what the trade-offs will be if hoteliers are able to build loyalty with millennials.

Teresa Y. Lee, a senior analyst at HVS and a self-described “token millennial”, explained that the loyalty of the generation is up for grabs. “It’s up to you to design a program we want to be loyal to.”

For travelers born between 1980 and 2000, personalization equals loyalty.  Benji Greenberg, founder and CEO of BCV, explained that millennials want to be wowed, and they want these amazing experiences built for them.  “They want to feel special,” said Greenberg.

Fortunately for the hospitality industry, today’s younger travelers serve up an abundance of personal data on a variety of websites and social networking platforms.  Lee McCabe, Facebook’s global head of travel, articulated that his company’s executives have recognized the potential and are working feverishly to make that information readily available to the company’s marketing needs.

“What we’re working towards is a very efficient marketing platform, a marketing platform built around people.  You’re not marketing to cookies, but visible faces.  You’re marketing to people,” he said.

Although hotel companies are getting better at this, the challenge is packaging relevant data to associates on property, most likely via property management systems.

To read more about this panel discussion, and how companies are paying for personalization, click here.

Examining Metasearch Online Travel Agencies

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Online travel agencies (OTAs) are a vital part of the supply chain in the travel industry. They are widely considered one of the main factors behind rapid growth in online travel bookings across both mature and emerging markets.

New online channels have been created in recent years with the intention of lowering hotel distribution costs without decreasing occupancy levels.  Of these options, the metasearch channel has separated itself from the pack as a highly successful venture.

In a recent interview with HotelMarketing.com, Siteminder’s CEO Mike Ford illustrated the opportunities that metasearch channels present for hoteliers.

Ford begins the discussion by explaining that metasearch OTAs collect room rates from multiple online channels and displays them to the consumer in a single list.  This allows potential travelers an expedited process to find and compare hotels and pricing options.  Some of the most popular sites include Google Hotel Finder, Trivago and Kayak.

Those hoteliers that are taking advantage and becoming early adopters of new sales and distribution technologies stand out, but ultimately the name of the game is converting clicks to bookings.  No matter the type of property, the number of rooms, geographical location, star rating or amenities offered, the companies that are the most profitable will be those with a high click conversion.

Ford also discusses his feelings about TripAdvisor’s TripConnect in comparison to the other major metasearch OTAs as well as tips for hoteliers on how best to implement metasearch channels into their online visibility.

To read this entire interview, and to learn more about the importance of metasearch OTAs going forward, click here.

Emerging Travel Trends: The Silent Traveler

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The rise of digital technology and marketing in the hospitality industry has created a new kind of traveler who is adept at all available online and mobile tools.  They use these tools to jump across all industry-defined silos.  These new travelers do not require a lot of handholding, they shun human interaction and know their way around everywhere they go.

These travelers were documented in a Skift report titled, “14 Global Trends That Will Define Travel in 2014.”  How can you reach these travelers and keep them satisfied during their stay at your property?  Let’s take a look at some options that are geared towards the newly emerging “Silent Traveler”.

Mobile Check-in Opportunities

No traveler really enjoys the tedious process of a front desk check-in.  Waiting in line can be a hassle, and Silent Travelers do not always feel comfortable with extended amounts of face-to-face interaction.  One of our recent blog posts, “Hotels Expand Mobile Check-In Options” discusses steps hotels are taking to make the check-in process simpler and mobile-driven.

Third Space Creativity

Silent Travelers still need a place to be able to operate the technology they travel with, putting a premium on creating a usable third space on your property.  All travelers are looking for Wi-Fi connectivity, and most of them believe this should be a complimentary service.  Click here to learn more about third spaces.

Response to Feedback

If the hospitality — the actual human to human interaction — part of the travel industry becomes less and less important, how does the industry define itself? How does it understand the needs of its customers and fulfill them?

Although these Silent Travelers may not be talking to people face-to-face, they are often jumping on review sites, or a property’s own website, to leave feedback about their stay.  It is important to manage these channels and respond to this feedback as soon as possible.  This ensures that the voice of the Silent Travelers is being heard, and their concerns are addressed like those of any other guest.