Global chains are intensifying their brand offerings with new amenities, services and designs to attract and retain guests. Nearly half of lodging professionals expressed optimism toward increased RevPAR in 2015, according to a recent SmartBrief sponsored by The Wall Street Journal. Striving to stay ahead of the competition, hotels are targeting the next generation of travelers—Millennials—with unique experiences, events and social consciousness, and here’s how:
- Attempting to appeal to the next-generation travelers who are curious and respond to experiences such as virtual reality, Marriott Hotels launched a 4-D virtual travel experience in September 2014 that uses the cutting-edge Oculus Rift technology. The virtual experience comes in the form of a virtual reality booth that “teleports” guests to three destinations: a newly designed Marriott Greatroom lobby, a beach in Hawaii or a London skyscraper. Users have sensory experiences by actually hearing the buzz of the lobby, feeling the ocean breeze or seeing the view from the top.
- Brands are actively marketing to Millennials at major events that appeal to their generation, such as South by Southwest and Comic-Con. Courtyard by Marriott created a mobile activation with engaging activities at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con dubbed the Courtyard Super Hero HQ experience. Located at Petco Park, the event offered attendees free experiences such as makeup applications from a top Hollywood special FX makeup team and a costume play contest judged by The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus. Anyone could experience the activation. In a strategic move, however, Courtyard offered a “fast pass” to skip lines to select Marriott Rewards members.
- Innovation in guestroom design is a sure-fire strategy to appeal to Millennials. 21c Museum Hotels makes art an integral part of the experience. At 21c Museum Hotel Louisville in Kentucky, guests can book a suite called Asleep in the Cyclone. The basement hotel room features a domed ceiling sculpture installation constructed of repurposed barn wood, custom textiles, original sculptures and other artworks.
- Another defining characteristic of Millennials is their social consciousness. The 2014 Millennial Impact Report by consulting firm Achieve found that 47% of Millennials surveyed volunteered for a cause. Hotels have responded by developing and publicizing corporate social-responsibility programs. Westin Beach Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, FL designated three poolside cabanas, in which a portion of all proceeds from rentals are donated to a nonprofit organization.
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