‘The Future Belongs to Those Who Hear it Coming’
A famous David Bowie quote, but isn’t that so relevant in our industry… Hospitality changes, as does life but as in life, it will be the businesses who are ready for that change and willing to adapt that will succeed.
We have all watched the decline of fine dining and as we know, fewer and fewer people want that ‘white tablecloth’ experience, so our behavior is changing. We can see that in the more relaxed dining options available across our city and who would have thought a few short years ago that we would all be catering to dairy allergies; wheat allergies; lactose intolerances. A few short years ago we thought it strange to have a vegan in our restaurants… but life is changing and will change again very soon and we have to be ready to adapt.
As a women in her 40’s (and happy to admit it) I feel slightly depressed that the new market we need to be considering are the Millennials. And just to clarify, that includes people born between 1980 & 2000. I honestly have cheese in my fridge older than that! But they are coming and we better be ready…
So what do they look like and what are their buying characteristics?
- To start with there are more of them – 92 million to be exact while those Generation X people (those between the ages of 36 & 50), well there are only 61 million of us
- They are the first generation who were born completely immersed in technology. They don’t remember life without smart phones, sat nav’s or MP3 players (or taping the Top 20 on cassette on a Sunday!)
- They are more socially connected than we ever will be.
- Everything is instant: shopping; chatting; dating. No-one waits for anything anymore
- They have less money to spend but they have different priorities
- They are less in a hurry to buy a house or a car. They don’t see owning ‘stuff’ as important. They are happy to rent and have something for a moment.
- They probably won’t get married until they are in their 30’s and they are definitely putting off parenthood
- They want access not ownership and that can be vividly seen in new businesses like Uber and 25 years from now, car sharing will be the norm
- They are also focused on health and well-being and are up to 20% more likely to be more fitness-focused than their Generation X predecessors.
So what as hospitality providers must we learn from this? Well in my mind we need to get ready for a changing set of values from our customers.
Millennials want to be immersed in technology and as I often see hospitality providers not even valuing the importance of their own website, we need to get a wiggle on!
- Understand just how significant the power of ‘on-line’ is.
- No matter how good you think your wifi is – upgrade it today!
- Make sure your business is found on search engines
- Is your website is visual and emotive and is it mobile friendly?
- Invest in video – this will be crucial we move forward
- Are you communicating with your guests in a way that they want to be communicated with? Is that Email, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, Snapchat, Pinterest?
- Make your booking process simpler
- Store guests details to make repeat bookers journey through your site easier
- Provide the best technology in-house as you can afford
- Constantly research the ‘next new thing’
- Have you considered keyless technology? Mobile check-in? Beacon technology?
- Do you know who is checking in to your hotel today (blatant plug for Right Revenue but ask us for more details!)
- Are you considering Virtual Reality? Ask me for some ideas…
- Provide healthier and more relaxed dining options and cater to differing dietary needs
- Guests want to hear a story behind our food. ‘Mourne Lamb’ or ‘Granny Jane’s Chutney’ sounds emotive doesn’t it?
- Are you providing social spaces for people to sit and work? I am constantly frustrated by coffee tables in hotel lobbies. Who are they designed for? You can’t eat or work comfortably at that level. Scrap them and actually look at how your guests want to use your public spaces.
I could go on and on but one takeaway should be that Millenniels want to feel special; that you have considered their every need. So I finish how I started… ‘tomorrow belongs to those who hear it coming’ Are you listening for the change?
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