One of the most unique spending habits shared by Millennials and Gen Zers is that they would rather shell out their hard-earned cash for experiences than possessions. According to findings by JPMorgan, Millennials pay more for things such as travel, entertainment, and dining compared to their parents and grandparents. Experiences make young people happy by giving them opportunities to create lasting memories, and let’s be honest, FOMO-inducing social media content.
This trend in spending has led to a lot of industries implementing “experiential marketing” in an effort to attract the young people that make up a huge market. Generation Z alone is predicted to account for 40% of all consumers by next year, according to Fast Company. The hospitality industry actually has a leg up when it comes to this marketing tactic because staying in a hotel is experiential by nature.
In fact, other brands go to hotels and private accommodation rental platforms, like Airbnb, for assistance with bringing the element of experience to their marketing campaigns. For example, last year Taco Bell briefly opened up a pop-up hotel in Palm Springs, meaning they decorated a previously existing hotel with brand-themed artwork. But they went all out when guests arrived. Besides plastering their branding everywhere, they served exclusive dishes and custom cocktails in the lobby, by the pool, and in guest rooms. Speaking of the pool, they had hot sauce packet shaped floats and a synchronized swimming performance! The experiences didn’t stop there. Guests could also attend yoga classes, concerts, and outdoor movies, get taco art painted on their nails at the spa, or shop for Taco Bell merch at the store. Overall, this was a great example of an experiential marketing campaign and the hotel venue played a huge part in its success.
If you’re in the hospitality industry and you want your hotel to attract Millennials and Gen Zers, then you’ll have to stand out from the crowd. It’s no longer enough to offer fancier toiletries, bigger TVs with more channels, or more comfortable beds. You need to create an out of the box experience for your guests. Here are a few suggestions to get you started…
- Create a home away from home. The rise of Airbnb has led to travelers seeking residential-feeling interiors over the crisp, clean, cookie-cutter designs of the past.
- Pay tribute to where your hotel is located. Use memorabilia from a nearby university, merch from the city’s sports team, or pictures from a local artist as decor. A lot of people travel specifically to experience a new place, so if you continue to offer that experience inside of your hotel, these guests will be delighted!
- Speaking of keeping it local, consider offering a bicycle rental program to help guests access all the nearby attractions in a unique way. Don’t forget about aesthetics, though. Avoid bikes that look like they’re part of the city’s public transportation system and go with a cute, pastel, vintage vibe instead. Perfect for photo ops!
- When it comes to photo ops, provide your guests with them in as many places as you can! Tuck stylized vignettes all over your hotel. Paying close attention to the details when decorating effortlessly creates highly photogenic settings. Arrange art intentionally, organize bookshelves in aesthetically pleasing manners, and so on.
- Play up your outdoor spaces. Add unique floats to your pool, provide guests with lawn games, lay out turf on your rooftop bar if you don’t have a lawn to play the games on. Heck, that would make you even more unique!
- Pick a color scheme and stick to it. This will help to strengthen your hotel’s brand. If you do it well enough, social media users will start to recognize your hotel in the background of photos!
- Don’t just serve good food, teach your guests how to make it themselves. Cooking classes give people a fun activity to do during their stay. Plus, food is one of the best things to post on Instagram. Another fun idea is to include complimentary treat jars in each room, and replenish them daily!
Providing guests with unique experiences allows them to connect with your brand, which can lead to successful customer journeys if you follow through with the concept. Promote these experiences through your marketing and advertising, deliver on your promises once guests arrive, and engage with them once they start posting photos and reviews online. If you bring the experience full circle, you’re likely to not only reach the target market of Millennials and Gen Zers, but to turn many of these guests into repeat visitors.