The importance of selling experiences, not just beds

Selling experiencesToday, Millennials are a widely overlooked audience for hotels, whether it’s because there is a general perception that they are entitled and hard-to-please, or because they are assumed to have no money to spend on traveling but ignoring Millennials is a huge mistake for hoteliers’ bottom lines. Millennials areÊone of the fastest growing travel demographics, who areÊÒexpected to be taking 320 million international trips each year by 2020″. Contrary to popular belief, not all Millennials are choosing to stay at Airbnb or other alternative accommodation properties; in fact, Millennials Òmake up 70 per cent of all hotel guests”.

Surprised?ÊIf you’re like most hoteliers, I’d guess that your answer is yes. If you haven’t figured out how to make your property more attractive to Millennials, I’m here to help. The answer is simple:Êfocus less on selling a room and a bed, and more on selling a complete, unique, share-worthy travel experience.

FutureCast’s Millennial Brief on Travel & LodgingÊcalled Millennials ÒExperience Pioneers,Ó which is one of the most apt descriptions that I’ve read for this demographic, asÊÒ[a] great experience is 3X more popular [with Millennials] than getting a bargain price” and Ò72 per centÊof Millennials choose to prioritize experiences over luxury and material goods”. This is the basis of the experience economy, in which Òbusinesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers, and that memory itself becomes the product”.

For most Millennials, their travel experiences are an integral part of their development as a person. This, combined with Millennials’ obsession with social media engagement receiving many likes, shares and comments on their posts, makes the experiences had while traveling of much greater importance than it was for previous generations. Millennials experience FOMO (Òfear of missing outÓ) more poignantly than any other generation, fueled primarily by social media, which again re-emphasizes the importance of having every element of their trip, be unique, beautiful and highly experiential in nature Ð and that includes their accommodation.Ê

Like other industries who have had to make significant changes to suit the Millennial market, the hotel industry needs to get onboard with the experience economy or they risk losing out on many bookings. Hotel marketers must completely revamp their strategies to emphasize the experience that their guests will have during their stay, rather than on their amenities, luxury or brand name as would appeal to older generations if they want to boost bookings with Millennial travelers.Ê

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Some of the best ways to communicate the experiences that your property has to offer rather than just your amenities are:

áÊÊÊÊÊÊÊUse videos that share experiences available at your property, rather than just showing your rooms and common areas.ÊFor example, if your hotel hosts amazing pool parties or is the location for local events, share videos of the events on social media, as it is more likely to inspire Millennials to book than a static photo of your pool. This can be a highly effective tactic, as a recent Phocuswright survey showed that Millennials are highly motivated when making travel decisions by YouTube videos.

áÊÊÊÊÊÊÊShare past guests’ posts to communicate the experiences that they found most rewarding while staying at your property.ÊAcross all social media channels, engage with past guests who have posted at or about your property by liking or commenting on their post and then re-share it to your followers. This strategy can yield a large increase in bookings with Millennials asÊÒ86 per centÊof Millennial travelers were inspired to book a trip based on content they viewed online”.

áÊÊÊÊÊÊÊShare non-salesy, informational content about your destination with potential guests.ÊBy sharing content about your destination not sales information about your property online, you make your property a valuable resource. When it comes time for travelers coming to your destination to book a hotel, they are more likely to book with your property because they are already familiar with and trust your brand because you have given them valuable information that will help to shape and improve their overall travel experience.Ê

áÊÊÊÊÊÊÊUse the booking channels that target Millennials’ specific needs and communicate with them in a way that they will respond positively to (likeÊVir.alÊdoes!).ÊMost Millennials are booking online either through OTAs or via mobile apps, so your property should have a presence on all the channels that are most frequently used by the travelers that you are targeting.Ê

Currently, Millennials spend over Ò$200 billion on travel eachÊyear” and this number is only expected to increase, as most have yet toÊreach their peak earning and spending potential. Now is the time to update yourÊmarketing materials and OTA listings to make your property more appealing to Millennials. You’ll have nothing to lose and everything Ð including increased occupancy and RevPAR Ð to gain!

By Mike Murray

Mike Murray

Mike Murray is co-founder of TripCraft, a mobile technology company offering an innovative mCommerce platform for hospitality. At TripCraft, Mike oversees product development, technology, and business strategy while remaining a hands-on developer and architect of the company’s products. Mike has been developing innovative travel and technology solutions for over 25 years and his innovative thinking and systems can be seen powering some of the travel industry’s biggest names. Mike is founder of Vir.al, the new inspiration/hotel booking app/website. Vir.al is a new hotel booking app and website that capitalizes on today’s social media phenomenon to bring hotels and the valuable Millennial travel demographic together. Using curated, experience-based, destination-specific content, Vir.al enables users to create unique travel experiences, not just book a hotel room in which to sleep, and incentivizes them to increase their social media score in exchange for perks, promotions and status. Hoteliers can use the app’s back-end, which identifies socially active potential guests who are planning a trip to their destination, enables hoteliers to offer incentives to book and, as a result, boost their brand’s online visibility with and appeal to Millennials.

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