What Comes After Millennials – Is Your Hotel Ready For Gen Z?
It’s safe to assume that, in the last few years, the word “millennials” became a staple in everyone’s vocabulary. Especially when it comes to hospitality and travel, gen Y, as they are also called, is still a pretty hot topic. Accommodations all over the world are striving to change and adapt, in order to fit the needs and expectations of millennials. After all, they are the largest cohort in history.
But, as a wise man once said, the only constant in life is change, so it should come as no surprise that millennials are already becoming a thing of the past. They grow up so fast, don’t they?
It seems that gen Z is the new group in town (note: we’ve reached the very bottom of the alphabet - where do we go from there?). This generation has already been referred to as “millennials on steroids”. If hoteliers feel like their work of adapting to a new generation has finally come to an end, they should brace themselves, because gen Z is coming.
Enough with the metaphors though. For hoteliers to be able to adapt to a brand new generation and make the necessary changes accordingly, they first must know the differences between gen Y and gen Z. Of course, there are features that the two generations still have in common, so the focus should be maintained around what appealed so far to millennials. Here’s what we found out in a previous best practice guide, regarding what millennials are most interested in: the best possible wifi connection, mobile optimization, social media presence, targeted amenities and positive reputation. However, the question still remains: how are the new bloomers any different than millennials? What separates the two generations and what can hoteliers do to adapt to a new wave of consumers?
We can say that the main difference is the upbringing. While most millennials have been around for the birth and rise of technology and social media and adopted them later in life, gen Z was born in the middle of everything (late 1990s to the 2010s). They got tickets in the very first row and might have learned how to operate a mobile device before the alphabet.
It has been established that, unlike their predecessors, who have, indeed, a strong online presence and are very likely to observe and engage with brands, gen Z is more interested in creating their own content. They co-create, they live-stream, they help generate content along the way. They can be called curators because they want to constantly be involved. In order for businesses to align with their needs and expectations, managers have to come up with ways of letting them express their visions and opinions.
Social media is a great way of engaging with gen Z and allowing them to unleash their creativity. Although this generation is mostly about more private platforms, such as Snapchat, hotelier can still encourage social media connections. Make sure to be present on the relevant channels, keep an eye on your guests’ activity, the ones related to their stay at your accommodation and why not, ask them to engage. Suggest places for good selfies, artistic photos, any aesthetically pleasing corners of your hotel, in which they can create content and share it on social media. Since gen Z is more inclined to communicate as easily as possible, through visuals, here’s a practical guide that can help the most graphic social media platforms of a hotel: How to make your hotel’s social media a source for travel inspiration (II) – Instagram & Pinterest.
Another way in which gen Z can freely express their opinions and experiences is through guest feedback. Reviews, comments, mentions, any sort of evaluation must be encouraged now more than ever. As a hotelier, make sure to always provide means of expressing feedback, via surveys, platforms, social media, text messages, etc.
Speaking of texts, hospitality has recently sunk its feet into the communication via text message, due to the influence and requirements of millennials and we have a detailed study upon this subject in our latest White Paper. However, gen Z is all about making things even faster, even easier and more visual. With an attention span of 8 seconds, shorter than the one of millennials, catching and retaining their interest is the ultimate challenge for hospitality reps. Given the fact that gen Z is highly inclined to use images and symbols as a way of communicating, our clients from Kayak have recently developed a way of searching destinations on their website by emojis. Why waste time typing New York when you can use the Statue of Liberty symbol? This is a great and fun example of keeping up with the new generation and the changes that it implies.
Also, keep in mind that members of gen Z are easily won over by video and personalized content and experiences. As a hotelier, you should definitely consider opting for visual storytelling and invest in quality content and personalized recommendations.
One other crucial thing about generation Z is that they are much more aware than millennials when it comes to finances. After a wave of young people who have few boundaries regarding money are very likely to spend big, especially on vacations, it’s a surprise knowing that 57% of generation Z prefers saving money to spending it. This might come as a pretty big challenge for hoteliers, since they come face to face with a group of financially cautious young individuals, who demand more, for less.
However you’re feeling about this new generation that is knocking on your hotel’s doors, one thing’s for sure: Darwin knew what he was talking about when he called it survival of the fittest. Today’s world is moving at a faster speed than ever, consumers change every day and so do their needs, expectations, and standards. Therefore, businesses have to adapt to keep up with the trends of new generations and to customize their product in such a manner that it would appeal to the constantly changing public. So here’s looking at you, gen Z! Let’s see what the future of hospitality will bring to the table.