Grandma Just Texted the Front Desk – Bridging the Generational Tech Gap

While it’s hard for me to believe (and admit), I am part of a generation that wasn’t exactly born in the midst of the technological revolution – I was eased into it. I am what we call a “digital native” but growing up, “the” internet wasn’t a given and it definitely wasn’t a must. I remember first getting acquainted with it sometime in middle school and although I found it impressive, at the time it wasn’t exactly life-changing. It was just one of the many things that, as a child, you slowly discover and incorporate into your life and daily activities. 

What I also remember is my grandma’s puzzled look and disbelief, combined with a touch of curiosity. It was incredibly hard for her to make sense of this new technology after years of being used to a black and white TV and manual work. So she kept away, going on with her life just as it was because, in her words, she was “too old for this”. 

Fast forward a couple of decades and younger generations are now competing with their parents and grandparents on the technological front. Grandma has a Facebook account, an Instagram account, she’s part of groups, she uses WhatsApp, she Facetimes her family. Yes, she might occasionally tag you in a pixelated picture of a sunset and a rose, topped off with a Word Art font that wishes you a wonderful morning and she might ask Google long and way too detailed questions – but overall, grandma is killing it. She’s curious, she’s eager to learn, and she’s putting in the effort. 

The generational tech gap is becoming smaller with the rise of each new generation and this is something that has a deep impact on businesses. Boomers, as we like to call them, are now almost as tech-reliant as any other younger consumer. In fact, two-thirds of baby boomers are constant internet users and 76% of smartphone-owning boomers use the internet multiple times per day. Naturally, this translates into their enhanced tech expectations from different businesses, including hotels. 

As a hotelier, you are probably used by now to paying extra attention to younger generations like millennials and gen Z’ers and their particular tech expectations. However, it’s equally important not to lose sight of the baby boomers – if you automatically assume that they don’t mix well with technology, smart devices, self-check-in, or messaging apps, you might miss out on making a good impression and on gaining a few reputation points. Not just that but you might also be missing out on revenue since U.S baby boomers, for example, control 70% of the country’s disposable income. That alone turns them into a very potent and desirable target audience for hotel marketers.

So how can you ensure that your efforts of leveraging tech solutions appeal to this particular generation? While our parents and grandparents come from a background where face-to-face interaction was the norm, we can now safely assume that communicating via messages is part of their normal, daily interactions. As with any other demographic, live engagement during their on-site experience is crucial for making a positive impression and encouraging honest and actionable feedback. 

Make sure to dive into this solid faction of travelers with targeted and personalized communication means. Reaching out to them via messaging apps during their stay sends a clear message that you acknowledge their technological capabilities, first and foremost, and that you are genuinely interested in their experience. A simple welcome message can ensure that you start on the right foot and encourage them to communicate as often and as openly as they need to. It is also highly recommended to leverage on-site surveys to ask for feedback and fix any issues on-the-spot before they can turn into negative impressions and post-stay reviews.

With an intuitive and customizable direct messaging solution like we perfected at TrustYou, it’s easy to set-up user-friendly and personalized communications. You can easily adapt your written interactions in such a way that would appeal to more mature travelers and their specific needs and expectations. These interactions can also be used to promote and upsell fitting services and ongoing promotions, as well as to build a solid guest profile. 

Bottom line is, the generational tech gap is not as deep as we might have thought and this is a great reason to expand the marketing efforts towards older generations. Personalization is the key to gaining and retaining guests, regardless of their age or background. So the next time grandma texts the front desk, be ready to engage and keep up with her!

What is a baby boomer?

Baby boomer is the name attributed to the individuals that are part of the generation born between 1946 and 1964, during the post–World War II baby boom. This demographic precedes generation X.