Hotel Online
News for the Hospitality Executive

 


Gen Y and the Online Travel Marketer
 
Join TIG Global on May 18th or May 19th as they host a complimentary webinar on
“Tips for Marketing to Gen Y in the Online Space.”


Click here to register.

By Caroline Gates, TIG Global Director of Sales

Chevy Chase, MD –April 29, 2010 –Anyone with children these days is fully aware of the impact that technology has had on every aspect of their lives. Kids are no longer matriculated into their tech savvy ways; they practically have them handed over as a birthright.  From a very early age, today’s children are immersed in a society that lives in the online world more than ever before.  With the emergence of high-speed wireless connections, Skype, iPods, iPads, iPhones, Blackberries, lightweight laptops - to name a few on the seemingly endless list of technological advances - it’s no wonder they have learned to adopt and adapt.
 
So, what does this have to do with travel marketing?  A lot.  Though these technical savants may start out harmlessly with a Leap Frog or a Nintendo in tow, they are quickly graduating to computers and smartphones, joining the workforce, and moving towards becoming a highly dominant buying force, as well as major influencers in the online travel space.  The time to start winning their loyalty is now.
 
Enter Gen Y
Generation Y, or “Gen Y” as it’s more commonly referred to, has arrived and is making its presence known. As the vast majority of Baby Boomers, approximately 70 million strong, begin to enter a well deserved retirement stage, the change in lifestyle has had an inherently conservative affect on their spending habits, especially in the wake of the recent economic downturn. But, Gen Y is right there knocking down the door, waiting to step in and occupy the vacancy in the marketplace.

So who is Gen Y? Typically, this generation was born between the years of 1977-1995 (estimate), according to extensive research conducted by Jason Ryan Dorsey, leading Gen Y expert.  Also referred to as “Millennials,” “Echo Boomers,” or the “iGeneration,” this segment is currently topping off at 80 million strong and growing, due to influx of international Millennials in the US.  They are confident, brash, spontaneous…and, well, young. But don’t let their ages fool you, Gen Y has money to spend and they are looking to spend it, particularly on travel.  According to statistics from niche Gen Y marketing specialists, BrandMercenaries, they are spending to the tune of $200 billion annually, which is nothing to sneeze at.

So why is Gen Y spending more? They have gained a reputation for freely spending, partly due to the fact that they are less likely to be burdened by many high-level fixed expenses or to have suffered significant investment loss in the recent economic downturn. Additionally, they have plenty of time ahead to save up for retirement, so they are not shy about reaching into their wallets, and fortunately for the industry, travel is high on their to-do list.
 
According to a recent Harris Interactive Youth Poll, children between the ages of 13 and 18 are likely to spend approximately 132 billion discretionary dollars annually.  This is largely due to the access they still have to Mom and Dad’s purse strings, but they aren’t just spending on toys and gadgets.  The study showed that these children are also incredibly influential in influencing their parent’s purchase decisions; namely vacation destinations.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers also suggests that with fewer debts and a less-urgent need to accumulate wealth in the immediate future, as compared to “Boomer” aged shoppers, a higher proportion of this generation’s income is discretionary. Pair these factors with a penchant for instant gratification and a reliance on tech-heavy gadgets and the Internet, and the need to be proactive in marketing your brand or destination in the online space becomes glaringly apparent.

Shift in Values
While Baby Boomers have traditionally viewed a vacation as a getaway from real life, a new mantra holds true for this group of up-and-comers that greatly differs from generations that have come before them.  Because of their experience as the first generation to grow up from birth in a constantly wired world, their behavior is much different.  Additionally, having grown up in the age of divorce and split households, the typical Gen Y-er, is more focused on a life work balance than their senior professional counterparts, determined to steer clear of the proverbial golden handcuffs of the work world.  Their motto is “Work to Live, Not Live to Work.”  Often seen as the “slacker” generation, Millennials will beg to differ, arguing a shift in principals after having experienced firsthand what an unbalanced work life and personal life can do for family values.
 
These are important traits to remember when selling to the Gen Y crowd in many capacities, ranging from sales and marketing techniques to property level management.  As Millennials have been plugged in and wired for their lifetimes’, technology is not a want, but rather a need at this point.  Their unique set of desires has shifted the norm, turning the marketing messages of the past on their heads.  So, you may ask, what exactly is the hook for generating interest amongst Gen Y?  Try focusing on the user experience for your hotel or destination. It is critical to ensure that your marketing focus is in step with creating a lasting brand image that will resonate with this younger crowd.  A great way to do this is to reach them where they already are; online.  Ensure that your marketing messages are catchy, not stuffy.  Think creatively when developing your approach. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

1.  Remove the “Yawn Factor”…Keep it fresh
Gen Y is not attracted by the ‘proper’ message.  Think outside of the box and try a novel approach to your marketing messages.  It is crucial to utilize outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to have your voice heard in the online marketplace.  This is not an easy task, as the hottest new social outlet today could just as easily become the thing of the past tomorrow.  Social media strategy takes time, focus and energy to maintain and to keep up with the trends and should not be taken lightly as a major source for potential revenue.  The more on top of the trends you are that are important to Millennials, the more likely your brand will be viewed as young, fresh and capable of understanding their needs.  Keep this theory in mind when implementing web design standards as well.  Gen Y is a generation of innovators and they are intrigued by the simplicity and creativity of an idea that is new and has a revolutionary spin, and they are vying to get in on the ground floor of the ‘next big thing.’  That said, a stuffy, outdated, or “safe” image is not likely to appeal to this crowd.  Try building unique microsites for your Gen Y promotions that feature a more edgy design element, or creating specials that include amenities that are important to them, such as the availability of wireless networks, iPod docking stations or touch screen room service access on site.  These messages are more likely to speak to the Millennials and spark their interest in your property, or encourage return visits.

2.  Get conversational
Once you have grabbed the attention of the Gen Y consumer, it is not enough to rest on your laurels and pat yourself on your back for a job well done.  This crowd doesn’t drop the arbitrary penciled in comment card in the lobby box.  They are wired and have strong convictions in their likes and dislikes.  It is critical to join in social media sites to get the word out to this generation, as well as monitor their thoughts and opinions.  It is likely that a Gen Y-er will be tweeting away from check-in to check-out, and commenting on every experience in between. Give them the incentive to be your destination or brand ambassador by creating an experience that will appeal to their forward thinking sensibilities in order to gain trust and generate positive feedback amongst their peers. This will also help to get your brand message spreading like wildfire in Gen Y social circles, a feat that is hard to accomplish using a traditional “cut-and-paste” marketing message.

3.  If you build it, they will come…
A series of networks that is.  It is clear that traditional marketing methods are less likely to apply to Millennials, so use this fact as an opportunity to really get creative with cutting-edge techniques. Make sure that you are involved in multiple social networking outlets, and use the popularity of these sites to draw Gen Y-ers to your property.  For example, with the emergence of activity-based sites like Foursquare, the online world is merged with reality, opening up a completely new outlet for new business and increased revenue.  Or, try something like Google’s “Favorite Places” mobile based bar codes. By placing a Google code in the window of your hotel, or encouraging local businesses throughout your location to utilize this tool, you stand to gain some added favorable attention in the online space.  The idea is that travelers can take a picture of your unique barcode with their mobile device, found in the front window of your property or a local business, which is then easily deciphered using a decoding app.  This feature allows travelers to select your location or property as a “Favorite Place” and bookmark or share it online to keep it at top of mind, or just to spread the word.  As an added bonus, Google will add your location to its maps page, giving you extra exposure on a local level.  It is these types of ideas that make your hotel or destination accessible and fresh.  And in case you doubt the need for a strong mobile marketing strategy, consider that most teenagers and young adults believe their mobile devices go as far as to make great bedfellows, according to a recent Pew study, revealing that 4 out of 5 teens with cell phones sleep with them on or next to the bed each night. A recent study featured on CNN’s website also cites that 54 percent of teens were daily texters and that 15 percent send more than 200 text messages a day. That’s equal to nearly 6,000 texts a month. It is clear that Gen Y is hooked on mobile, so to be prepared, make sure you focus on making your site mobile friendly with easy navigation, and get involved in the mobile outlets and applications that are being so widely used by younger generations.  Not only will it benefit your business, but it will give you credibility for being “in the know” with a younger audience.

4.  Make it “bragworthy”
Where Baby Boomers are more apt to view their vacations as a time to kick back, relax and revel in the glorious art of doing nothing, Millennials are more focused on what there is to do on their trips. The Gen Y crowd is looking for an experience that will wow their friends and earn them bragging rights upon their return.  This is evident in the glut of new hotels that follow extreme themes, such as the Ice Hotel in Sweden that is the equivalent of living in an igloo on vacation, or the Drainpipe Hotel in Austria, a “hostel-esque” experience that enables visitors to sleep in a capsule made completely out of repurposed municipal drainpipes.  Sounds crazy, but sometimes crazy works.  This type of creativity needs to translate online as well, in order to generate interest and garner desired attention from the Gen Y set.  To do so, it is important to consider what your online identity and branding says about your location.  You can choose a design that is universally appealing, but add a slight edge to transcend the boundaries of age.  Or, use a microsite to kick off a Gen Y campaign or contest. This will allow you to steer your Millennial messages directly to your target audience, without tarnishing your overall brand image or turning it into a passing trend.


5.  Start now
The argument can be made that Gen Y hasn’t come of age quite yet, and it is easy to assume the attitude that marketing directly to this generation’s needs is not a crucial step at this point in the game.  Not so.  The time to begin marketing to the Millennials is now.  They may not have the extreme buying power that you seek at this juncture in their lives, but this innovative bunch represents the future of your business, and they will take some wooing.  It’s not enough to jump in with both feet down the road and try to win their loyalty.  Gen Y responds to the social elements of a brand and the idea of courtship in the form of friendship.  They are not interested in a company telling them what they should want or need in the form of spoon fed corporate messages, they want a reciprocal, symbiotic relationship with the brands they choose. The more you can speak to this generation now and express understanding for their culture, the more likely they will be to respond to your message down the road when their income has elevated to higher levels.  That said, this generation is also fickle, and much like the social networks they frequent, the interests they enjoy one day maybe considered passé the next.  Gen Y takes considerable energy to woo, as your marketing messages must sprint to keep up with the ebbs and flows of their latest interests.  In light of the speed and agility it takes to keep on top of these shifts, it is good practice to also consider the flip side of the coin from an operational standpoint.  By reaching out to younger employees on your property to get their feedback, or have them help manage your social media campaigns on site, you stand to connect on closer level to this audience.  While it is necessary to have a formal strategy and guidelines in place that adhere to your brand standards, by giving Gen Y employees a little bit of freedom to get creative with social media, they have the power to become your best brand or destination ambassadors for the day-to-day maintenance of your online presence.

Complimentary Webinar
Interested in learning more?  Please join us for an educational webinar, Tips for Marketing to Gen Y in the Online Space, as TIG Global resident experts Caroline Gates and Brian Fitzgerald discuss strategies for effectively marketing to the Gen Y community. To cater to various time zones, the event will be held twice:
Day 1:  Tuesday, May 18th at 10:00am EDT / 7:00am PDT / 4:00pm CEST
Day 2:  Wednesday, May 19th at 2:00pm EDT / 11:00am PDT / 8:00pm CEST
Click here to register.


About Caroline Gates
Having recently joined TIG Global as Sales Director, Caroline Gates currently manages the company's regional business-development in the Northeast U.S., overseeing sales of the company's best-of-breed services and cutting-edge technology.  She brings with her a strong understanding of hotel management and operations, and exceeding knowledge of Internet marketing strategy for the hospitality industry.   Since she began with TIG Global in March 2010, Caroline has already proven herself as an integral part in relationship development with brands and independent hotels alike.
 
Before joining TIG Global, Caroline operated in key sales management roles with Milestone Internet Marketing, TravelCLICK, Promus Hotels Corporation, and Ritz Carlton Hotels, with a strong focus on new product development and search engine strategy.    In addition to her work experience, Caroline holds a Bachelors degree from Elon University in Elon, NC.

About TIG Global
TIG Global, a subsidiary of MICROS Systems, Inc., is dedicated to assisting the travel industry with exceeding their online marketing goals and specializes in hotel Internet marketing and destination Internet marketing.  Serving an extensive portfolio of clients worldwide, TIG Global combines its industry knowledge and e-business expertise to help clients maximize the online channel.  TIG Global offers multi-language websites, a vast network of internationally based strategic linking partners, email and pay-per-click marketing campaigns tailored to all international markets, custom social media solutions, and websites optimized for major search engines around the world.

.
Contact:

TIG Global
Molly Israel
301.841.4762
misrael@tigglobal.com

 

.
.


 
Also See: TIG Global Releases Third Report in Destination eMarketing Best Practices Series; ‘Microsites, Mobile, and Apps’, Now Available to the Public / April 2010

Hospitality and Travel Professionals Receive New e-Marketing Video Resource; TIG Global Provides Educational, On-Demand Internet Marketing Tips to Hospitality Professionals / April 2010

Destination Toledo Selects TIG Global as its Exclusive Travel Internet Marketing Partner; TIG Global to Grow Destination’s Brand and Web Presence via New, Cutting-Edge Website / March 2010

Leading Travel E-Marketing Firm Partners with 1,001st Client; TIG Global Attracts a Growing Client Base with Leading–Edge Services and Customer Focus / December 2009

Amidst Recession, TIG Global Develops Philanthropy Task Force; Travel E-Marketing Company Dedicates Resources to Giving Back During Tough Times / November 2009

Getting Social: Why All Travel Professionals Need to Use Social Media; TIG Global complementary webinar on Getting Social – Thursday, December 3, 2009 – 2:00PM (EST) / November 2009

Capital Region USA Targets International Travelers with Help from TIG Global; New Website and Online Marketing Campaign Support CRUSA’s 5 Year Strategic Plan / November 2009

TIG Global Sweeps the WebAwards Competition with Wins in all of the Travel Categories; TIG Global Honored with 10 WebAwards for eMarketing excellence in the Hotel and Lodging, Travel, and Restaurant Categories / Ocotober 2009

Five-star Abu Dhabi Hotel Increases Middle East Market Share Through Partnership with TIG Global; TIG Global Launches New Website and Online Marketing Plan for Vision Hotel Apartments Deluxe / October 2009

TIG Global Releases Second Report in Destination eMarketing Best Practices Series; ‘Social Media and the DMO Marketer- Part II’, Now Available to the Public / September 2009

Targeting Global Travelers: A Guide for International Website Optimization / June 2009

TIG Global Unveils Innovative Website for the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau; New Website Utilizes Interactivity and Local Travel Reviews to Attract Niche Travel Markets / March 2009

TIG Global Wins Big at International Marketing Competition; TIG Global Secures 12 Adrian Awards for Outstanding Website Design and E-marketing / January 2009

Middle East Hotel Brand Selects TIG Global to Grow its Hotel Chain Empire; TIG Global to Launch Strategic Online Marketing Campaign to Capture Market Share / December 2008

Curacao Tourist Board, San Diego North CVB, CVBreps.com, and Longmont Area Visitors Association Select TIG Global as their DMO Internet Marketing Partner / December 2008

eMarketer of the Year, TIG Global, Receives Additional International Honors; All TIG Global Partners in the 2008 WebAward Competition Recognized for Outstanding Website Design / October 2008

TIG Global to Assist One of Europe's Most Famous Hotels, Gran Hotel La Florida; TIG Global Launches Integrated and Multi-Lingual Online Marketing Efforts to Reach the World / September 2008

Sea Island Resorts Selects TIG Global to Strengthen its Online Presence; TIG Global Unveils New Website and Online Marketing Plan to Increase Resort’s Revenue / September 2008

Travel-Generated Content and Web 2.0 Is Here to Stay. Why Not Put it to Work for You? / May 2008

TIG Global Receives Top International Honors for Website Design and Internet Marketing; TIG Global Wins Three Summit Creative Awards / May 2008

TIG Global's Work Leads to 2007 eMarketer of the Year Recognition and Nine other Adrian Awards; The Georgetown Inn, a TIG Global Client and Part of LXR Luxury Resorts and Hotels, is Named eMarketer of the Year / March 2008

Ten Standards for Promoting Your Hotel Online / March 2008

TIG Global's Work Leads to 2007 eMarketer of the Year Recognition and Nine other Adrian Awards; The Georgetown Inn, a TIG Global Client and Part of LXR Luxury Resorts and Hotels, is Named eMarketer of the Year / February 2008

TIG Global Philanthropy Unit Using Internet Marketing Expertise to Take on Global Diseases; Bill Clinton spotlights TIG Global's Online Marketing Efforts at the Clinton Global Initiative for the Fight against Neglected Tropical Disease / October 2007

10 Ways to Optimize your Hotel Website through Copy; How to Use Copywriting to Achieve Higher Search-Engine Rankings for Your Site / October 2007

TIG Global Collects International WebAwards for Superior Website Design; Grand Hotel Esplanade Berlin and LXR Luxury Resorts and Hotels Receive Web Design Honors / September 2007

TIG Global Receives Top International Honors for Website Design; Nickelodeon, LXR Luxury Resorts and American Express Web Campaigns Receive Summit Creative Awards / August 2007

TIG Global Expands European Operations with New Sales Director; Jeff Down to Bring 15 Years of International Travel Industry Experience / June 2007

TIG Global's E-Mail Marketing Campaign Receives National Honors; The Web Marketing Association Awards TIG Global'Best E-mail Message' for The Rittenhouse / April 2007

TIG Global Wins Nine HSMAI Adrian Awards for Website Design and Online Marketing / February 2007

TIG Global Legal Reference Simplifies Challenges Associated with Online Marketing and Brand Protection; TIG Global, Cyveillance, and HSMAI Publish Profits and Pitfalls in Online Marketing / October 2006

The West Paces Hotel Group Selects TIG Global as their Internet Marketing Partner for the Solís Brand / July 2006

Three Destination Marketing Organizations Select TIG Global As Their Internet Marketing and Management Firm / July 2006

TIG Global Receives Two Webby Awards for Website Design; LXR and the Boulders Resort Recognized as Top International Websites / May 2006

LXR Luxury Resorts Selects TIG Global as their Internet Marketing Partner / April 2006

Carlson Hotels Worldwide Selects TIG Global as its Internet Marketing Partner for Park Inn / March 2006

TIG Global Wins Four HSMAI Adrian Awards for Website Design and Accompanying Online Marketing Programs / February 2006

The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino Selects TIG Global as their Internet Marketing Agency of Record; TIG Global to drive direct online traffic to the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino / February 2006

TIG Global Announces New Senior Management Appointments / October 2005

TIG Global to Exhibit at International Hotel Conference in Monaco / September 2005

Omniture Enables TIG Global to Enhance Reporting Performance Metrics / August 2005

CVBs, DMOs Win Online with TIG Global’s Launch of ‘Destination 1’ Internet Marketing Program / July 2005

Kayak.com and TIG Global Announce Preferred Marketing Partnership; TIG Global to Advertise Across Kayak Network For More Than 100 Of Its Hotel Clients / June 2005

TIG Global’s New RFP Tracking & Reporting Captures More Meetings and Group Business for Hotel Clients / May 2005

TIG Global Has Been Selected by Sunstone Hotel Investors as Exclusive Internet Marketing Partner / March 2005

New ‘TIG Global Guarantee’ Makes Internet Marketing a Must for Hoteliers; TIG Global Program Eliminates Risk, Guarantees Revenue / March 2005

TIG Global Announces Executive Promotions to Propel Strategic Growth; Sue Heilbronner named EVP of  marketing and business development, John Tunney named EVP of finance and administration / February 2005

TIG Global Expands Account Management Division and Continues to Deliver the Highest Level of Interactive Marketing Services in Hospitality/ February 2005

TIG Global Guiding Internet Presence Close To 50 New Hotel Clients In Fourth Quarter 2004 / January 2005

TIG Global, HSMAI Publish First-Ever Distribution Strategy Guide for Hotel Industry / January 2005

Thayer Interactive Group Becomes “TIG Global”; Internet Marketing Firm’s New Corporate Identity Underscores Breadth And Depth Of Services / October 2004

Thayer Interactive Group Announces Previous Appointment of Michael Pusateri as EVP of Sales & Services/ September 2004

Thayer Interactive Group’s Independent Clients Quadruple Industry’s Year-Over-Year Online Revenue Growth / May 2004

Thayer Interactive Group Receives Top Honors for Website Marketing Excellence at HSMAI Adrian AwardsShow / March 2004

Thayer Interactive Group Is Selected By Driftwood Hospitality To Provide Comprehensive Internet Marketing Services / Aug 2003

Thayer Interactive Group’s Clients Outperform All Industry Benchmarks For First Quarter 2003 Online Revenue / June 2003

Ocean Point Beach Resort and Spa Selects Thayer Interactive Group To Provide Comprehensive Internet Marketing Services / May 2003

Thayer Interactive Group Selected By Quorum Hotels And Resorts To Provide Full-Service Internet Marketing / April 2003

Thayer Interactive Group Taps Industry Veteran To Head Sales And Marketing Efforts / March 2003
.

.

.

To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.OnlineSearch
Home | Welcome| Hospitality News | Classifieds| One-on-One |
Viewpoint Forum | Industry Resources | Press Releases
Please contact Hotel.Onlinewith your comments and suggestions.