It may be hard to believe, but millennials now make up nearly half of all hotel guests, according to some estimates. And there’s no denying that hotels have taken notice. Major chains like Hilton and Marriott are adapting to the demands of the technology-dependent, lifestyle-centered 18- to 34-year-old set, with new offerings centered on the needs of younger travelers. Here’s what this means, and how millennials are forcing the hospitality industry to redefine what it means to be a hotel.
Millennials aren’t just looking for a cheap place to sleep. Sure, they want inexpensive lodging, but they also want to stay somewhere that has a distinct personality and offers common areas for socializing and doing work. Hotel room desks aren’t important—shared workspaces are. Until recently this has meant choosing hostels or Airbnb’s over hotels, but now hotels are making some changes, too.
Marriott plans to add 150 properties to its new lifestyle brand,Moxy Hotels, which does away with the corporate feel of many hotels and gives each property a modern and unique design. Guests can relax in chic common areas, enjoy state-of-the art computers, listen to music, and mingle in cafeteria-style eateries that are loaded with snacks. Moxy Hotels will even offer mobile-check-in.
To help connect young travelers with local culture, and with each another, Marriott’s Residence Inns are now hosting weekly theme nights, called The Mix. Some events include dessert samplings, live music in the lobbies, local food trucks, and fire pit nights. Nothing screams “millennials” like food trucks and fire pits, am I right?
Hilton’s new brand, Canopy, is also getting in on the “cool amenities” game to appeal to younger travelers. Guests can ride bicycles or take passes to nearby fitness centers; engage in neighborhood art and music programs; attend local wine, beer, and spirit tastings; and can also expect a welcome gift from a local bakery upon arrival.
Richard Branson’s new brand, Virgin Hotels, targets millennials by offering money-saving perks. Not only does it offer free happy hours every night from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., Virgin properties are now stocking minibars with items that people can actually afford (the days when regular-sized soda cans cost $1.00 are back!). Early check-ins, check-outs, and last-minute cancellations are also free.
Expect to see more boutique-style hotels with bright colors, locally inspired designs, and inviting atmospheres crop up in the future.
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Olivia Briggs has worked in the hospitality, tourism, and online travel industries for more than a decade. She has lived in Ireland, traveled throughout Europe, and has been a passionate writer from a very young age. Follow her on Twitter @OliviaOlileibri