Crack the market and you’ll never go back, says Vertical Booking USA chief executive and president Mark Lewis-Brown
As we all now know, the Millennials are the largest generation in history (92 million potential guests!) AND have an overwhelming desire to travel so they are a (potentially) hugely profitable demographic for all hotels – if they can get their bookings.
As you also know (and probably struggle with on a daily basis) Millennials + the Internet has changed the travel industry significantly (especially when it comes to booking), leaving many hoteliers – especially those who haven’t jumped onboard the operational technology bandwagon – wondering:
“How can I increase Millennial bookings at my property? I’m not a tech genius so I’m concerned that bookings are trending toward online and mobile, with everything needing to be done quickly, easily, often at the last-minute and available 24/7. What do I do?”
We all know the basics about the Millennials from the many surveys/studies/articles that have been published about their booking habits and preferences in the past few years, but let’s do a quick recap before we get into the really important stuff:
• Millennials want experiences, not just a bed to sleep in.
• Millennials have money to spend but they are still looking for a good deal; that being said, many will be willing to pay more to stay at an eco-friendly hotel.
• When choosing their next travel destination/hotel, Millennials are highly influenced by social media, making them valuable brand ambassadors for your hotel (if they stay with you and love the experience enough to share it with their friends/followers).
• Obviously, Millennials have led a dramatic shift towards mobile booking and other innovative, online booking channels, often, with bookings made on the day-of travel – making it difficult for hoteliers to use traditional revenue management strategies.
Alright, let’s get started…
There are three ways to increase your property’s visibility to the Millennial audience (both online and via the apps) and turn lookers into bookers, with only a few updates to your property’s operational technology and strategy (but don’t worry, we’ll make sure there are no new technology headaches!).
Update #1: Get visible
It seems sorta obvious but I’m going to say it anyway: the very first update to your property’s distribution strategy must be to get your rooms listed on each and every channel that the Millennial market knows, loves and uses to book hotel rooms.
I have heard all of hoteliers’ most common problems with these channels: high commission rates, the requirement to offer exorbitant discounts, confusing tech, etc. – but, at the end of the day, if you are not listed/visible on their favorite booking channels, you won’t get bookings from Millennials. Unfortunately, it’s really that simple.
So, get your property listed on all of the Millennial-friendly channels right now! I’ll wait…
All done? Good. Let’s move on…
Update #2: The right technology will eliminate all of your tech problems, not add to them
You may or may not have heard me say this ad nauseum but, just in case you’ve been surviving without access to Wi-Fi for the last few years, I’ll say it again: it’s impossible for a person (or even a team) to manually manage ALL of the reservations coming in from different distribution channels, 24/7.
That’s why technology is (or should be) your BFF.
I’m also here to reassure you that you do NOT need to be a technology whiz kid if (and that’s a big if) you’re using the right reservations technology; when you’re using the right solutions, technology isn’t intimidating or overly complicated and it definitely doesn’t require you to know anything about coding. The best solutions have an all-in-one dashboard, making it quick and easy to make updates to your property’s reservations, inventory, pricing, etc., without the muss and fuss (and tech melt-downs) that are oh-so-common with the wrong technology solutions.
The right technology also makes it easy to make more money off of each booking. Easy up-selling features, built right into your CRS (i.e. OTA rate comparison pop-ups, persuasive messaging and tagging, the ability to offer secret locked deals to specific customers, an abandoned cart recovery tool, a tool to check your competitor’s rates and a metasearch management tool) will help you increase your property’s occupancy, ADR and RevPAR, especially with the Millennial market.
So, now you know… by using the right tech to manage your reservations, upselling to your guests, effectively managing your listings on all of the different online channels and more (seriously, technology can do it all!), you can step back and trust that your hotel will get as many bookings as possible, via the most profitable channel(s), without the risk of overbooking or human error looming ever-present in your mind.
Are you ready to find the right technology for your property? If you need more guidance (and actionable tips) on how to leverage technology to boost your property’s bookings and cure all of your reservations headaches, download this whitepaper now. You’ll be high-tech in no time!
Update #3: Get in their head(s)
As I already mentioned, Millennials are constantly searching for the perfect experience when planning a trip. They don’t just want a standard hotel room or a place to sleep; It’s all about an experience that they can share on Instagram, to inspire FOMO in all of their friends and followers.
(You know about FOMO, right? FOMO is Millennial speak for Fear of Missing Out – and it’s a huge factor in Millennials’ decision-making on travel experiences – so it should be an important consideration when marketing your rooms to Millennials.)
It’s not enough to say that your property was decorated by some famous interior designer; Millennials respond to showing, instead of telling. If your decor is your standout feature, use beautiful images and videos to make Millennial guests picture themselves staying there and having the opportunity to take a gorgeous, FOMO-worthy selfie in all of your décor splendor. Once you make Millennials develop that emotional connection to your property (when they can picture themselves staying at your property), you will turn those Millennial lookers into bookers.
One last thing (which I know you guys may not be happy about): to really engage Millennials, you need to be on Instagram. (Yah, I know: “ugh”.)
I know it’s exhausting to think about implementing a brand-new marketing strategy, especially one so dominated by so many young’uns. Never fear – your social media strategy doesn’t have to be overly complicated; you don’t need to post brand-new photos and videos every single day but, by regularly posting emotionally inspiring photos and/or videos (and re-sharing all posts/stories that mention/tag your property), you will see a dramatic increase in your Millennial conversion rates.
Here’s an example of a hotel that knows how to sell their property on Instagram: The Jupiter Hotel in Portland, USA (@jupiterhotel). Do as they do, and you’ll be attracting more Millennials (to your property), all day, every day; that’s the power of the Gram.
So, are you ready to embrace the Millennial market? Trust me, once you go Millennial, you’ll never go back (simply, because of the sheer volume of Millennial travelers booking hotel stays, each and every day, and the potential revenue that they offer your property). After all… “The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees. I need money.”