With over 80 million members, the millennial generation represents the largest market of consumers for the hospitality industry. But they’re also the toughest segment to convert. And the biggest challenge hotels face when trying to reach this ever-elusive demographic? They almost exclusively shop for vacation accommodations online, normally on their cell phones, and the internet is a noisy place.
If you want to be successful in the modern hospitality landscape, it doesn’t cut it to just offer a clean room with a pillow mint and competitive booking rates. Your hotel has to differentiate itself. Most millennials will visit up to 10 (yes, that many) websites before making a booking decision. And their buying habits aren’t the only thing that has changed – millennials are also looking for different things from their hotel stays than generations past. They seek out accommodations that are authentic, as opposed to commercial, and boutique, as opposed to standardized. Luckily, these considerations offer a new window of opportunity for boutique hotels to get in front of the people with the biggest buying power, without the help of online travel agencies that take a hefty commission and decrease profits.
Paint a Picture
The first step to showing millennials that your hotel can provide the authentic experience they crave in a vacation is developing a clear narrative woven throughout your online presence. Focus on details that illustrate your differentiating factors. Is each of your guest rooms styled differently? Do you source food from local purveyors? Does a naturopath or herbalist develop your spa treatments? Great – show it off! Some powerful ways to tell your story online are:
- Have trusted members of your team (think spa director, chef, sommelier) do a “takeover” on your Instagram stories. Let their expertise shine through and show followers the unique experiences available to them at your property.
- Make sure that all your content, across platforms, maintains a consistent brand voice. It rings as inauthentic if the voice on your social media is clearly different than the voice on your website.
- Employ branded video content to showcase your property’s best qualities. Even one beautifully planned, captured, and edited video can elevate your brand considerably in the eyes of consumers.
Spark connections with travelers at every stage of their journey
Use Targeted Paid Social
As we mentioned, millennials tend to visit several websites before actually booking a hotel, and even more internet research goes into planning the trip revolving around a hotel stay. That’s a big digital footprint that you can use to target consumers who have been doing preliminary research on a stay in your area. Paid posts are a worthwhile investment to get your account in front of new eyes anyway, but when you can target consumers already searching in your area, the chances of conversion increase dramatically. If you’re looking for inspiration or assistance, our team of social media gurus can step in to get you rolling.
Offer Incentives on Your Website
If you want consumers to book directly, especially in a world full of OTAs touting the best deal on the internet, you have to offer incentives. Get creative with your offers for booking directly – they don’t all need to be monetary, although that’s always an effective choice. You can also lure in bookings on your website by offering a complimentary room upgrade, a free room-service meal, or one spa treatment of choice upon check-in. An important part of offering incentives is letting website visitors know about them! Compel prospects who are browsing your website to book directly with pop-ups that layout your incentive and include a prominent call-to-action button that prompts them to take advantage of the deal now.
Play the Long Game
Millennial consumers came of age in a world when it was commonly believed that good deals on travel accommodations came only from OTAs. That’s a difficult myth to bust, but by educating consumers on the benefits of booking directly through your social media and website presence, you’re chipping away at that outdated belief. One brand that is nailing the educational approach to circumventing OTAs is Hilton. Their multimedia Stop Clicking Around campaign is a great example of how they creatively and efficiently enlighten potential customers on the benefits of booking direct. Even if a prospect doesn’t book directly with your hotel right away, a seed is being planted and it might affect their buying behavior moving forward.
Looking for more inspiration and information on how to achieve hotel marketing that stands out from the crowd? Be sure to check out: