At HITEC Amsterdam, millennials and their needs will be high on the agenda – they’re the future of business.
Millennials need a strategy
Millennials love to travel and they increasingly have the disposable income to do so too. They already make up more than one third of the world’s hotel guests, and over the next few years, this figure will rise rapidly. That’s why there’s a battle raging.
Part of the problem is that the war for younger customers isn’t just between hotel chains. They’ve got some stiff competition from digital-first brands such as Airbnb, but also there’s pressure from intermediaries like OTAs – all competing with hotels for millennials’ money and data. Hotels don’t want to sleepwalk into a future where their millennial customers exclusively come through intermediaries.
Optimise your website and booking platform for mobile
Many of these online brands are successful because they’ve developed products that meet millennials’ needs precisely. Most young people surf the Internet through mobile devices not desktop PCs, laptops, or even tablets. An incredible 48 per cent of millennials view video solely on mobile devices.
The large digital travel brands have invested wisely in optimising their websites and platforms for smartphone usage. They haven’t simply retrofitted their platforms to work well on mobile devices, they’ve gone back to the fundamentals, and developed their platforms with mobile use in mind. And that’s why, in some ways, they’re currently winning this war.
Of course, the trend of travellers using smartphones to book is not limited to millennials. Millions of people of all ages have moved over to mobile. In fact, a survey in the middle of 2016 predicted that about 52 per cent of Americans who booked their trips digitally would do so via smartphone last year. That could rise to 86 per cent in 2019.
Make sure your brand cuts through on mobile
But what’s unique about millennials is that they often have a very deep personal relationship with their smartphones. According to one survey, 39 per cent of millennials interact more with their smartphones than partners, friends, parents, children, or co-workers. It has become the lens through which they experience the world.
As a result, millennials also build deeper, more meaningful relationships with the brands they experience through their smartphones. This is a real phenomenon. QuantCast recently found that while 64 per cent of the general public were influenced by mobile advertising, that “figure rises to 80 per cent among millennials”. Mobile is simply the most powerful brand communication tool for millennials.
Online booking pages can be one of the greatest obstacles for mobile users
But many hotel brands are still behind on mobile, especially when it comes to their booking experience. Hospitality brands who don’t have an optimised mobile experience are missing out in a very big way. They’re losing the opportunity to build relationships with their younger travellers; losing brand-saliency; and losing money.
Faced with a tricky booking page, be it for a bedroom, spa day, restaurant table or meeting room, millennials will tune out and skip to the next brand.
Personalisation is key for younger visitors
Focusing on mobile is only a single part of an effective millennials strategy. A deeper dive into the data suggests other things hotel executives should think about too. For example, according to recent research, millennials put a high value on personalised experiences and increasingly expect to find relevant information about hotels and hospitality brands on social media. Hotels should think about ways to integrate these elements into their websites.
A number of hotel chains are driving more visitors to their websites to make direct online restaurant bookings rather than intermediaries. Not only does this mean that hotels own the data that they capture, but they can often capture more of it too – such as whether diners are coming for a special occasion – which makes it easier to deliver a personalised dining experience.
Hotels still have the edge – just
Hotels still have incredibly powerful and attractive brands. They have the experience and know-how; an inherent advantage. The majority of customers, including millennials, trust and respect hotel chains. But to have a chance with millennials, hotels absolutely must deliver a smooth mobile experience – especially when it comes to things like online booking forms.
While most hospitality executives started thinking about millennials a long time ago, even more attention must be focused on them, and the generation just behind them, over the coming years. Technology is the key to engagement. But this technology must increasingly be mobile first.
To see how BookingTek can help drive direct online bookings for your restaurant, request a free demo.