Plugged in, in tune and on a budget. These are three terms that easily describe the millennial generation. (For something a little more specific, millennials are people between the ages of 18 and 30.) They love technology, they love to party and they love to tell everyone about it, all for a relatively reasonable rate. So when millennials travel, they undoubtedly look for hotels that allow them to combine everything that they love. We tapped the pool of Travel Agent’s 30 Under 30 agents to see what their young clientele is looking for when booking hotels.
“Millennials are always connected to their phones, tablets or laptops,” says Katelyn O’Shaughnessy of TravelStore. “A hotel looking to attract that group should give us Wi-Fi free of charge, and provide us with lots of outlets to charge our devices.”
Brands such as Starwood’s Aloft, with its hip re:mix lounges, cater to fun-seeking millennials.
Part of the reason, or perhaps the main reason, why millennials are attached to their devices is because of their fierce love of social media, which acts as a mode to earn bragging rights for their adventures and vacations. “My generation is looking for unique features and a chance to experience a destination in a new way,” says Rachel Dillow of Beach Bum Vacation. “It’s no longer about just relaxation and exploring; it’s about self development and being able to share it on a social media platform.”
“People of our generation have an instant gratification mentality, which can relate to a hotel stay in a few ways,” says Maggie Stein of In the Know Experiences. “Extremely important is being able to have Internet access throughout the hotel, whether it’s in our room or public spaces.” In the same vein, ways to charge this arsenal of devices is equally important. “The number one item I would love to see in a hotel is the ability to borrow iPod chargers, iPhone chargers and mini USB chargers for Android products,” adds Sarah Nelson with Travel Leaders.
Now that our devices are all juiced up, it’s time to start snapping photos and video of the hottest scenes and parties. Millennials today want a hotel that is part of a scene, not just a place to rest your head at the end of the night. Hotels that are more destinations in their own right are rising in popularity among the traveling youth.
“Hotels that really attract me, and travelers from my generation, are those that offer more than just the basic lobby and hotel room,” says Austin Abram of In the Know Experiences. “We like hotels that offer the latest technology [such as tablets used to control the temperature and lighting in your room] or properties that offer multiple social and dining venues so you can really experience the hotel and its culture.” Interactive offerings are also huge among the millennial set, such as nightly wine tastings or mixology classes.
“Millennials just want to have fun,” says Katelyn O’Shaughnessy. “Bring the party to your hotel. Many young travelers will choose a hotel solely on the scene of the lounge. Create a hip environment; get a little creative with the design. Make the lounge a social atmosphere, where guests can hang out and meet new people.”
Beyond that, millennials are all about experiential travel. According to Matthew Upchurch at this year’s Virtuoso Travel Week, local is the new luxury, and this is being embraced by the younger traveler. They want cultural immersion along with their 400-thread-count sheets. Unlike their parents, however, they are reluctant to rely on a concierge, as it is something that they saw their parents do and so associate it with an older generation. However, hotels that have a concierge that is tapped into Generation Y is huge.
“Tell us about where we are staying,” says Christie Carden of Century Travel. “My generation is a bit more hesitant to use a concierge because we’re used to finding things on our own through the Internet. I love hotels that send a pre-arrival email with restaurants, sights and/or activities that the concierge currently recommends. Include who the concierge is for their stay with their contact information. It helps open up a dialogue and eases our concern that we are being needy travelers.”
Zulema Hernandez of All Inclusive Outlet adds, “I want an opportunity for a cultural experience outside of the resort. I want to experience the destination!”
More for the Money
Just because millennials want to travel like their parents does not necessarily mean that they have the financial means to do so at quite the same level. “The young people in my generation are paying student loans, establishing themselves in their careers, starting families and really trying to find their own paths,” says Rebecca Witt with WMPH Vacations. “I think we all have the desire to experience the world but some young people may not have the means with which to do it. Affordable travel without sacrificing the accommodations or experience should be a priority.”
Millennials like their luxury, but only to a point. They don’t need to be doted on at quite the same level as the previous generation. They prefer independent luxury. “I love luxury, personal attention and memorable experiences,” says Kevin Doheny with MoonRings. “However, I don’t need anything over the top. Service doesn’t need to be overdone or intrusive of personal space; nor does luxury need to be overly opulent. When we travel, it’s the little touches that matter—comfortable bedding, soft towels and good food.”
After we came out of the global recession, travel was irreversibly changed. Even when luxury travel started to come back, it was with a new twist. An emphasis was placed on value that even today’s most affluent travelers still hold in their minds when booking vacations. This mentality has certainly passed on to millennial travelers.
“Everyone is looking to get the most out of their budget,” says Alison Dobrowolski of VIP Vacations. “Many people are looking to have as many inclusions as possible in their vacation, which is why all-inclusive resorts are popular with the younger generation. I look for resorts that have at least a free daily breakfast, free Wi-Fi and if possible free round-trip transfers to and from the hotel and airport.”
“What we want in a hotel stay is a great value,” says Alexandra Totokotsopoulos with Alex’s Adventures/A Three Mermaid Travel Service. “We want to feel like the valuable money that we paid was worth it. If we feel like we are getting a great experience for a great value, we are in. We need properties to know that our time and money are valuable and to connect with us through avenues that we are using. We want a clean, updated, convenient and personable stay with amenities that enhance our stay and guest service agents who are happy to have us there.”
Staying connected is of vital importance to millennials.