With Millennials and Gen Z now representing over 50% of the global population, it’s time for our industry to take active note of what this next generation of travellers is looking for in terms of hotel technology.
While the Baby Boomers and Generation X traveller is known to have a higher discretionary income and time to travel, Millennials and Gen Z’s are set to drive and dominate many of the trends and the direction of the travel and hospitality industry in the next decade. Millennials contributed $200 billion to travel in the U.S. in 2019, and forecasts predict that by 2025 this generation will increase its total spend by 10%.
The global pandemic has fuelled the wanderlust of the next generation traveller and with remote and hybrid working becoming the norm around the world, ‘bleisure’ travel is set to continue to grow as a segment.
Some major hotel groups have launched new brands that are specifically designed to attract Millennials and Gen Z travellers, while other operators are looking to advance their existing tech offering. But what is the next generation of guests looking for when it comes to hotel technology? What should hotels look to offer to ensure their guest experience meets the expectations and aspirations of this digitally savvy crowd?
As digital natives, Millennials and Gen Z expect a mobile-first approach in everything they do, from finding a destination for their next trip all the way through to check-out after their hotel stay. The power of social media can’t and shouldn’t be underestimated and brands need to find a way to embrace the use of social media to reach and capture them. In doing so, they expect a smooth and easy yet human and personalised approach in their digital engagement with travel providers and are known to choose hotels based on their social media and technology offering.
Once in-house, their expectations of hotel spaces, interactions with staff, and the availability of services and amenities, are vastly different from their Gen X parents and Boomer grandparents. They want things their way, whether that’s going to the gym at 11:00pm after an evening of conference calls, vegan breakfast options for dinner from room service, a coffee shop with sockets and tables suitable for laptops, or Wi-Fi at super speed to edit and upload their videos. In addition, they prefer to use their mobile devices to communicate, whether that’s to check-in, request amenities, ask questions or book hotel services.
A recent study from a Hospitality Technology magazine, titled “Redefining the Guest Experience” found that hotel operators currently offer or plan to offer content streaming (61%), mobile check-in (55%), voice-controlled devices (13%) and free Wi-Fi (90%) this year, among other technologies based on customer demand.
Another study from the UK showed that having a strong technology offering is key to securing bookings from Gen Z and Millennial travellers, with 70% of respondents in the survey saying they would be more likely to book a hotel if it featured services such as online check-in, mobile keys, voice-assistants and smart TVs with content streaming.
TV casting is gaining popularity very quickly. In fact, Millennials watch TV online and via streaming services more than any other generation and want to have these apps available to them when they travel. The global content streaming market has already reached $419.03 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to $932.29 billion by 2028.
Additionally, casting lets guests choose their own content, in their own language. A bonus, hotels don’t have to pay for every app since guests bring them on their own devices and apps, and casting puts the expensive – and often unused – in-room TV back to work. Many hotels have already implemented this cost-effective and secure technology because it meets the new habits of guests and provides the comforts of home.
Voice assistants are another guest-facing technology that is rapidly gaining momentum and mainly Millennials have integrated this into their daily lives already for online shopping, smart home controls, etc.
Not surprisingly, Wi-Fi connectivity remains the top amenity when it comes to hotel stays. Fast, seamless and continuous connectivity is expected and powers the entire hotel guest journey. From smart phones, headphones and tablets to laptops, speakers and gaming consoles, travellers carry a plethora of their own devices when they travel and expect to connect and charge them simultaneously throughout their stay. With the combined work/personal trips, content streaming, several synchronous mobile devices, and increases in robotics and voice technology in hotels, Wi-Fi should be the first focus area to consider when upgrading or building new properties.
When it comes to recovery of the travel and hospitality industry, Millennials and Gen Z travellers are expected to play a vital role. With vaccinations, the return of in-person events and business travel and hybrid working models, travel demand is set to increase in 2022 and beyond. This is a good time for hotels to adopt new practices, upgrade technology and plan for the biggest travel generation that will redefine and boost our industry.