SAN DIEGO—It’s a burning question for many hoteliers: What do today’s millennials want? The answer is threefold: Customized experiences, digital convenience and relevant information on social media.
“Millennials expect their hotel stays to be as convenient as using their phones,” said Daniel Ramirez, VP of Porter24, an interactive digital concierge and advertising provider, based here. “When millennials travel it is often planned in a relatively ad hoc fashion, often turning up in cities with little to no plans of what they want to do when they get there. The one thing the majority do book before they arrive however, is their hotel. Therefore, millennials rely on their hotel for insights and guidance on what to do once they get there.”
With Porter24, millennials and travelers with a millennial-mindset can touch a screen and receive customized information directly from the lobby of their hotel. They gain access to local business deals, eateries, nightlife, tourist attractions and more—with directions and information conveniently sent directly to their phones.
As the saying goes, if it’s not on Instagram, it didn’t happen. “Millennials thrive on ‘exclusive’ opportunities that they can show off via social media,” said Ramirez. “It’s important to look for digital touchpoints with consumers and turn those into experiential activations—perhaps a VIP experience at your restaurant, tickets to a local event, or a personalized message from a celebrity spokesperson.”
Porter24 is actively working to help hoteliers serve this market and other hyper-connected demographics.
“As technology and digital innovation continues to develop, generations seem to grow alongside it. Customized experiences, digital convenience and relevant information on social media has grown to be an important area of concern to all generations,” he said.
“Every guest has different interests. Some visitors are looking to shop up a storm or others are looking to get pampered in spas. Some people want to dine in Michelin-starred restaurants, while others might prefer street food. Porter24 gives guests a stronger connection with brands who localize their ads and offerings,” he said.
In terms of customization, Porter24 screens are designed for this purpose, enabling guests to choose from a plethora of information that interests them, and that information is then sent directly to their smartphones.
“The large touch screens are conveniently located and accessed at the focal point of a hotel—its lobby,” he said. “The new ‘selfie button’ allows guests to take photos that can be directly uploaded to their social media pages and is capable of providing different backdrops for each selfie, specifically tailored to each hotel’s local attractions.”
Ramirez shares practical advice for hoteliers to put into action right now:
Put Digital First
“Hotels must transform the way they cater to the millennial traveler by modernizing the facilities they are promoting to this audience. Almost every touchpoint in a hotel—in the common areas, in their rooms and on their own personal devices through push notifications once they log on to the free WiFi—should be digital,” he said.
Content is King
“Content is another main driver of Instagram-worthy experiences for digital consumers. The average millennial checks their phone 43 times and spends five hours on social media per day. This audience is churning out content at an unimaginable rate, and brands who can help them produce content that will drive likes, shares or video views are winning,” he said. “For example, we frequently partner with social influencers to display localized content, most recently with well-known Instagram food blogger New Fork City.”
Digital has turned nearly everything into an inexpensive, experiential opportunity, noted Ramirez. He believes that agencies need to evolve and look outside of the obvious channels to reach consumers with interactive experiences.
“Hotels are increasingly integrating opportunities for local business and advertisers to reach the traveling millennial in a way that feels educational and informative,” he said. “To be effective in hotel advertising, one should be positioned as a value-add for the tourist—whether that be with a special for that guest or showcasing a unique venue they may not have known about otherwise. Since hotels are increasingly integrating digital solutions for their guests, businesses can leverage these cost-effective opportunities to be where the consumers are. Whether you connect your fitness client to the hotel’s gym and serve up customizable workouts or become part of a hotel’s digital concierge network—like our Porter24 screens—agencies have the ability to connect their clients with guests in an experiential way, without a giant investment.”