One challenge hotels face is catering to a variety of guests with widely differing needs. Some of the greatest differences in guest needs and behavior stem from generational characteristics. This is an important area to which hoteliers should pay careful attention. Wowing a Baby Boomer means something completely different from winning over a Millennial. We are here to help you appeal and cater to guests of any age or era throughout their stays. We’ve outlined 4 different generations and how to appeal to each one so that they return to your hotel year after year.

 

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The Greatest Generation/The Silent Generation (born before 1945)

This demographic was born in the wake of the great depression, and, in many cases, raised with a frugal mindset. Members of The Silent Generation are now well into retirement, and with life expectancies rising, must make their resources last through their golden years. They are likely to appreciate and take advantage of discounts, whether on room rates when booking or services after they arrive.

This generation, having lived through major global and personal events over the years, is looking for a place to relax and unwind, or visit with family. When bringing your hotel to the attention of this demographic, traditional publications such as magazines, newspapers, radio, and television are the best marketing tools.

Accommodations are increasingly important to older guests. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to evaluate the policies your hotel has in place for accommodating elderly and disabled guests. They may need specialized attention from staff, whether it means help with luggage or someone to accompany them to their rooms to get settled. Your staff needs to be trained to go above and beyond for this type of guest. Ensure that employees are committed to creating a positive experience for all guests, no matter their ability level.

The most accommodating hotels have features that work for all guests, not just the young and able-bodied. This means extra seating and benches throughout the hotel (for guests unable to walk long distances without a rest), accessible restrooms, and sufficient handicapped parking spaces. Level walking surfaces, high-quality linens, and comfortable beds are also a plus.

Guests of this age group will appreciate old-fashioned staples like newspapers available at the front desk or for delivery. They are also more likely to have dietary restrictions, so be sure to have options like low-sodium and low cholesterol when it comes to dining.

 

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Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964)

Baby Boomers grew up in the prosperous, post-World War II years and have fueled economies for their entire lives. This generation has massive spending power and it’s a crucial demographic for your hotel to capture, especially given that the 50-plus crowd is responsible for 80% of all luxury travel spending.

With members of this generation are retiring, but still active. They are craving new travel opportunities, whether for leisure, adventure, or culture. Surveys show that this is an exciting new time for these people, some nearing retirement, some already retired. It’s up to your hotel to make their dream vacation special.

Although this generation grew up in an era of radio, television, and newspapers, they have been growing more tech-savvy, increasingly using digital tools like email and social media to connect with friends and family, or even shop online. 82.3% of Baby Boomers belong to at least one social networking site, with 15.5% spending more than eleven hours a week on Facebook. They are more and more open to options like mobile check-in and making requests for services like in-room dining from a smartphone or tablet.

Baby Boomers are very concerned about quality. They appreciate comfortable beds and good food, and they’re willing to pay more for better features. They feel the same way about a hotel’s services and are dissatisfied with oversights like poorly-cleaned rooms or an unfriendly front desk agent. Baby boomers also tend to value face-to-face interaction with hotel staff more than younger generations, so make sure your employees work to build relationships with this age group.

Despite all of this, as they become more tech savvy, Boomers – like younger guests – are willing to give up some face time with hotel staff if it means reducing waits for services. Above all, they expect to get what they pay for. They appreciate value and have a strong distaste for error. Given the significant economic role of this generation, it is more important than ever to increase efficiency and improve guest service at your hotel.

 

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Generation X (Born 1965-1980)

Generation X, often overlooked by the media due to the dominant role baby boomers and millennials play in our culture, should not be ignored by hotels. Gen X-ers are, after all, at their peak earning years. Despite making up a smaller portion of the population than Millennials or Baby Boomers, they bring in 31% of income dollars in the US.

Generation X came of age in an era marked by the rise of dual-income families and skyrocketing divorce rates. They learned as children to be self-sufficient and still possess this quality today. They are the best internet researchers of any generation and are most likely to research a hotel online before they book, carefully weighing price, location, quality, and extras. It is crucial to influence them during the decision-making process and provide them with all of the information they need to make the right decision. Because Gen X-ers are research-valuing online shoppers and heavy users of online search, targeting with search is a good marketing strategy for this age group.

Gen X-ers are also more likely to have children, so catering to this demographic means offering family-friendly options. Think kids’ meals at the hotel restaurant, adjoining suites, names of babysitting services to recommend, and cribs and cots available upon request.

Make their stays special and they will reward you. Generation X has the highest brand loyalty rates of any generation. Members of this demographic continue to buy from brands they like year after year, and are even willing to pay more for an experience they know will be up to their standards. They are also less interested in trying new brands than other generations, which can be a challenge when convincing first-time guests to book a stay.

 

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Millennials (born 1981-1996)

Whether you love them or hate them, millennials are an economic force, and hotels are already busy finding ways to cater to them, especially when many of them have gravitated to services such as Airbnb.

Once the youngest generation, Millennials have now reached adulthood and are responsible for 6 billion dollars in annual spending. They are also the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, meaning that they are huge drivers of business and “bleisure” travel. Millennials are constantly connected, making the quality of services like wifi a make-or-break part of the stay.

Millennials are often criticized for their need for instant gratification. Whether this is a valid criticism or not, one thing is true: attention spans, especially among this age group, are shrinking. Waiting is unacceptable for digitally-savvy guests accustomed to next-day online shopping and the ability to order meals within seconds from their mobile devices. Implementing services that allow Millennials to receive this type of instant gratification is incredibly important, as are services that analyze performance and increase efficiency in your hotel. Millennials also tend to embrace new technology like chatbots.

Unsurprisingly, Millennials respond well to hotels on social media. According to Forbes, 62% of millennials say that they are more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand engages with them on social media platforms. They also want their ideas to be heard, with 42% demonstrating an interest in helping companies develop future products and services. Mobile is everything for this demographic. Make sure whatever services you offer are available on mobile and accessible on the go. The same goes for booking options and information about your hotel and its services.

 

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Bonus Generation: Generation Z (born after 1996)

Generation Z is the latest to take the media by storm. This demographic, born after 1995, is too young to represent a significant number of bookings (although many stay in hotels with parents). However, members of Gen Z, who have had unprecedented access to technology, are already shaping the world in unique ways and are poised to become an influential group of consumers in the coming years. It’s best to start paying attention to this group now, as we predict it will become very important for hotels in the future.

These digital natives are coming of age in the era of the influencer, and we predict that influencers from platforms like Youtube will become increasingly important for marketing. This group is also more tech-savvy than even millennials, which, in turn, comes with even further decreased attention spans and minimal tolerance for ads.  Generation Z-ers aren’t just mindless drones lost in their smartphones, however. They value authenticity and transparency, and expect brands to be open and honest about their services and policies. They are also more change-minded, and an overwhelming majority care about the world around them and want to make it a better place. Hotels can prepare for Generation Z by implementing technology that makes the entire stay-cycle easier, reducing wait times, engaging influencers, and adopting policies that aim to create positive change in the world.