So it comes as no surprise that Aloft Hotels are, in fact, something of an architectural counterpart to the very generation of guests they target: travelers born sometime in the early 1980s and beyond, now ripening into successful and peripatetic young adulthood. These Millennial Generation guests are gaining recognition as an enviable catch for anyone, and Aloft in particular. The brand recognizes that youthful thinking isn’t just found in the very young. “Who is actually coming to our door?” “As you know, this model appeals to a larger variety of the population, depending on their mindset. The self-driven early adopter, tech-savvy social person isn’t just limited to an actual age segment.” Say Aloft.
Indeed, as Millennials come of age, suitcases in hand, they become a force the greater industry cannot ignore. Even the most traditional bed and breakfast segment has had to come to grips with the question of whether to shake the dust off its doilies, and strip its floral wallpaper, judiciously, to attract them.
“It’s not that baby boomers are exiting, they are still going to travel,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of the Luxury Institute, a ratings and research company that focuses on high-end branding. “But the emerging Gen X and Gen Y, the Millennials, are traveling too. Their world is so interconnected, they learn about new destinations and want to go sooner than we ever did as baby boomers. Global travel today is second nature, especially to these American consumers.”
“And unlike the backpack-toting, hostel-focused youngsters of their predecessor generations”, said Pedraza, “they are not into roughing it. They want to experience luxury and at least a minimum level of quality in the premises and amenities. They are not willing to compromise on that and they shouldn’t. The world has much higher standards now for travel and hospitality and a lot of options.” The rapid expansion of Aloft bears this out. Some 63 hotels have been launched so far, with another five to open this month.
Generation Y is poised to become the largest consumer buying group. They are a very quickly growing group defining the present and will continue to define our future. But inns and bed and breakfast establishments, which grew popular by serving up tidy slices of the past, have been rethinking their Millennial strategies too. The inn and B&B segment is the market’s most Millennial friendly because of its easy flexibility. You always have to be conscious of who is the next traveler, and how do we maintain the balance of appealing to our current guests while appealing to our future guests. Finding something that appeals to everyone. B&Bs can do that. You are not coming to a hotel where the whole hotel appeals to one type of traveler.
But whether the property is an inn, a major hotel or even a cruise line or tour, the ingredients for appeal are the same. “You need to have a bold customer culture, something that differentiates you and the way you deliver your experience,” said Pedraza. “The way people greet you, check you in – the people you interact with have to create a fabulous human experience.”
In the end, he said, it comes down to living up to the Millennials’ own expectations. “They think: ‘You have collected data on me, you know my needs and my desires and you had better deliver them, or I will consider your kind a dinosaur in the digital age.’
So don’t neglect the Millennials, they are the future.”