How to...

Woo 'Gen Y' travellers

Rezidor’s Richard Moore debates how freedom and connectivity are the bywords for wooing valueconscious Gen Y travellers into mid-scale hotel brands

According to the World Bank, by 2015, 47 per cent of the world's population will be under 25, so getting to know Generation Y – those born in the latter 1970s, or the early 1980s-ish – is imperative for a global hotel operator. And any other supplier, for that matter. These are not only the guests of now, but they will make up a large percentage of our future customer base for years to come.

Gen Y, and future Gen Y-ers, having grown up surrounded by technology, are not only used to, and expect, instant gratification, they’re also used to scouring the web for best value, and have become experts at sourcing quality on their own terms and at rates they want to pay.

That’s interesting territory for hotel operators. We’ve got to get it right for that all-important first impression. Be it online or in person, we need to keep rates affordable, be available and, most importantly, try to be consistent across each and every touch-point to gain trust.

It’s well documented that if you invest in Gen Y, then they’re more likely to invest in you. They’re the most likely to share their likes with friends and family, and are quick to show and share their dislikes, so ensuring your brand is Gen Y friendly is crucial.

So how do we get there? While it’s important to create and adhere to brand standards for quality and consistency, there remains a requirement for freedom and flexibility to localise offerings and capitalise on local expertise. Whilst Gen Y are some of the most passionate brand advocates, local market requirements will prevail. So what might work for Gen Y in Germany, for example, might be very different to what Gen Y in the UK will be looking for.

In the UK, local expertise suggests that market specific promotions driven via the web are one of the most engaging forms of marketing to Generation Y, creating easy to use and easy to access platforms, while still providing space for flexibility and creativity.

For most hotel brands today, this means decentralising operations to some extent, or establishing a regional structure that will ensure brand standards are kept in place while allowing space for those meaningful touches. From serving local food and wine, to local travel tips, or being able to suggest a local running route, it’s these local points of reference that add a level of flexibility or creativity to a hotel stay, that take customers preferences into account. Likewise, providing service with personality and empathy is equally as important as providing all of the expected amenities.

And it doesn’t stop there. Flexibility, for Generation Y at least, equals freedom and connectivity. Having the freedom to choose how, and where, to experience their stay with you, while being connected at every step.

At Park Inn by Radisson, alongside many of our peers in the UK hotel market, such as CitizenM and Holiday Inn, the direction of the brand is very much with Gen Y in mind, creating modern, flexible spaces that give guests freedom.

Examples include: modular reception desks and self check-in areas that give guests the option of being greeted and served at the desk or checking themselves in; free wifi and never being more than 10ft away from a connection point for laptops or mobile phones; and contemporary bar, restaurant and lounge areas which are modern spaces, designed to be somewhere you can eat and meet. All of us are focusing on our guests’ need to stay connected.

Grabbing Generation Y loyalty is an intensifying battle where all major hotel companies must compete. This is the fastest growing group of travel buyers and they have the potential to yield big profits for hotel companies. But we must get it right.