By Lorraine Abelow
What draws the demanding Millennial market to luxury travel experiences? Since they work hard and play hard, these travelers seek adventure in an authentic environment – be it city or resort property. A digital PR agency that specializes in the field monitors the emerging trends worldwide to best position its clients for success with this ever-shifting market. In is vital to secure coverage in the outlets that are meaningful to them from Outside Magazine to Huff Post to Skift and social media influencer marketing is an absolute must, because statistically it has been shown to build brand awareness in a big way.
1. What Is the Most significant Trend for 2018?
Experiential and authentic travel are the buzzwords that tickle their fancy. Not just going to the same hotel or destination, they are looking for new places to stay that resonate with their tastes. Even in the private jet sector, people aren't repeating the same routes. Customers are actively seeking out new and different places all the time and a top travel public relations agency can get you exposure to appeal to their new instincts. The growing affluent market is looking to expand their horizons.
2. Which Destinations Should You Monitor?
Traditionally, it's those inveterate travelers following The Rough Guide that pioneered destinations, and luxury followed. That continues to be the case with many destinations such as Costa Rica, but there are new places where luxury is coming in first and fast like Nicaragua. The same applies to Vietnam and Bali. Each has a number of world-class resorts that have opened up recently. Nicaragua recently opened a new private jet airport catering to this segment of the market. It's like Costa Rica was several years ago.
3. What Is Changing In Family Travel For the Younger Set?
Adventures, luxury style, top almost every family's bucket list nowadays. They are heli-skiing in Iceland, zip lining in Belize and paddle boarding in the Galapagos. Of course, jungle ruins are still a draw as they imagine a life thousands of years ago. Bragging rights for the parents and their offspring about where they have been and what they've done is part of the scene.
4. What Is The Biggest Myth About The Affluent Young Traveler?
Price still drives decision making for the luxury traveler – everyone likes a good deal. Type-A personalities and entrepreneurs avoid anything that smacks of price gauging: they just don't want to be taken advantage of. Offer high value – that is what the traveling public is seeking today. Tantalizing perks go a long way to sealing the deal so brainstorm with your PR firm.
5. Curating For Your Guest
It is all about customizing and personalizing the client's experience. You have to reassure customers with confidence that what you have planned for them has never been done before – or few, anyhow. And if you tell them to be on the dock for a dive at 8 a.m., they will be there, so you better be ready. You should know from experience why it is better for someone to stay at the Four Seasons or a smaller boutique hotel down the road. Or maybe they skip the Louvre and head over to the captivating Rodin Museum instead. Hotels need to have a broad range and depth of knowledge to fulfill all these needs.
6. How Can You Attract Affluent Chinese Traveler?
These are curious and tenacious travelers, with a surprising amount of disposable income. The first point to really leap out from the conversation was how important it is for hotels to lay on the little extras that really make Chinese guests feel at home. These include a Chinese breakfast, Chinese newspapers and TV channels in the rooms, adaptors for Chinese electrical appliances, and an in-room guide in Mandarin telling the guest how to use all the facilities. At least one Mandarin speaker on the concierge desk is also vital if you are serious about this market, both to make the guests feel comfortable, and to sell extras such as rounds of golf and tourist excursions.
7. Luxuriants No Longer Want Souvenirs
The elite young traveler now thirsts for access over acquisition, and experiences over owning stuff. This is "good news for travel, bad news for handbags," Chris Sanderson, co-founder of the Future Laboratory, a trend-forecasting agency, said at a Ritz-Carlton hotels breakfast. Owning specific, expensive products like the Hermès Kelly bag doesn't mean as much anymore. Travel experiences—and posting about them—matter more.
8. The Next Travel Buzzword: Simplicity
Words like "curated," "artisanal," and "authentic" fill press releases, but at ILTM, the bonniest bon mot was "simplicity." True luxury is slowing down—that moment of decompression when you see a phenomenal view—and feeling completely unburdened. This trend is illustrated by the success of such magazines as Dwell and others, which focus on pairing down to the essentials. Blogger relations is an excellent way to reach those who are looking for these experiences.
9. Small Has Never Been Better
Small Luxury Hotels of the World coined this phrase, perhaps fighting back at large chain hotels and resorts. The average size across the brand is 48 rooms. InterContinental Hotels will open a hotel in Venice in 2018 with just 55 rooms, unusual for a larger luxury chain. Guests staying in small hotels tend to want ultra-immersive experiences. "Clients are asking us to create experiences for them that will help them grow as people and as a family," Ezon says of the trend. "A beach resort is no longer just about pampering yourself; it's about connecting."
10. Family Owned Properties
Family-owned properties, capitalizing on the travelers' desire to make deep, local connections, will become an even bigger draw in the upcoming year. In Alaska, Winterlake and Tutka Bay Lodges (both are National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World) are owned and operated by renowned chef Kirsten Dixon, her outdoorsman husband Carl, and they're grown children. In Sorrento, Italy, the beloved Grand Excelsior Vittoria, surrounded by lush gardens and Bay of Naples views, has been run by the Fiorentino family since 1834. The Beau-Rivage in Geneva is adding 17 show-stopping top-floor suites to its historic building this spring, and is still run by the Mayer family as it has for the past five generations.
11. Everything Is About Reviews.
If a hotel or restaurant is not in the top percentile of reviews, it often is not even in their decision set. To combat this, it is important for hotels to stay abreast of comments on Trip Advisor and encourage your guests to post their one great photo, videos and descriptive content to gain the attention of this visually attuned group. Brand PR is vital to manage your reputation online.
12. Millennials Are Using Social Media To Show Loyalty
While past generations showed loyalty by having multiple repeat stays, this group shows it in the form of recommendations on social media. Because of this, it is important for hotels to be present on social media platforms and to interact with guests in this space.
13. Millennials Want to be Explorers Rather than Tourists
Members of this generation are hungry for experiences that will show them the town. Make sure your concierge and excursions team can offer those insider spots that will make them feel like locals. Get them into the culinary hot spots, sports venues and outdoor sporting events. So, the more hotels can do to facilitate this, the more loyalty they will generate. While this group is gaining more disposable income, many are still carefully about their spending habits.
14. Cost Conscious Milleninals
It is worth noting that this generation's discretionary spending affects their travel experiences. Because of this, Millennials might trade-off on spending for an expensive hotel, in order to do as much tasting around town as possible. These foodies will definitely splurge on that hot sushi spot, or award winning eatery offering farm-to-table cuisine.
15. Background on the Millennial Market To Keep In Mind
From major chains to smaller boutique enterprises, hospitality companies are redesigning properties, introducing new technologies and even creating brands to appeal to this demographic.
The numbers show why: There are 83.5 million Millennial, more than one-quarter of the nation's population, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released over the summer. That compares with 74.8 million Baby Boomers.
A Pew Research Center analysis of that data found that more than one in three American workers are Millennials. This year, they surpassed Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1979, to become the largest group within the American workforce.
This group is becoming the big earners, the spenders, the travelers, and most importantly, the workers," states Tina Edmundson, Marriott's global officer for luxury and lifestyle brands.
Takeaways on Millennials: Conclusions to Draw
What makes them even more attractive to the hotel industry is that they are nearly twice as likely to travel for business as Baby Boomers. In fact 46% of Millennial are willing to do so versus 26% of their older counterparts. This interesting statistic came of light from a study by the Global Business Travel Association. So even though there are technologies like Skype and Gotomeeting, Millennials want to meet face to face and their companies have the funds to send them on that business travel.
Predictions are that by 2025, this group will make three-quarters of the workforce. Understanding and growing with this generation will make or break you in the hotel world of the future.
IT makes sense to find hospitality PR firm that knows how to integrate all of your messages and push them out through the various media channels. Old fashioned media relations is also important because stories in the press are still highly influential.