A growing segment of the global travel industry is the youth fragment. According to a report by The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and World Youth Student & Education Travel Confederation (WYSE), they generated US$ 165 billion in 2010, with the figure expected to double in the forthcoming decade. This emerging division of the worldwide travel industry has made travel specialists ponder on a rather different business model, shifting the focus on experience as well as ensuring that the millennial kids are connected throughout their stay.
The influence of globalization and technology has led to youth valuing experiences and the feeling of ‘being connected’ over traditional hotel frills. Thanks to the free internet program, Facebook for example, is now available to smartphone users in selected countries. The young travel community wants to experience the place they reside at and hence, wants a place with a local touch. Hotels that can help them connect with local, traditional and authentic places as well, fulfills their desires after all. From the looks of it, quite many hotels have hardly changed the way they operate over the last decade, still consisting of the same in-room conveniences, check-in process and high-rise, heavy curtains. A young traveler is no longer looking for white-linen service or stewards to carry their luggage up to their room. When the modern generation of young travelers enter a hotel, they want to be connected with a steady internet connection, feel entirely at home and be in a setting where they can experience something.
With the support of the World Wide Web, an 80’s or 90’s kid now also has access to unprecedented information, easily accessible from a desktop, laptop or even a mobile device. The internet has also multiplied the opportunities for social interaction through travel. With social media and budget-travel tools like Airbnb and Skyscanner, they found out that travel wasn’t nearly as expensive or challenging as previously thought of. Looking at friends’ photographs of past trips on Facebook or Instagram, viewing TripAdvisor’s ‘hidden gems’, arranging to stay with locals or getting tips from numerous travel blogs, helps young travelers to bond before, during and after their trip, redefining the global travel scene.
For those hotels that have changed, regardless their size, it has been for the better. Receptions for instance, have become smaller in size, and communal and get-together areas with a mix of comfy sofas, work and meeting spaces, have been on the increase. Guests are able to sit wherever or serve themselves with what they’re craving the most, as the formal divider between lobbies and restaurants are now nearly non-existent. Rooms are now smaller as many young travelers spend majority of their time in social places.
In conclusion, these young travelers are looking for a home-away-from-home. They thrive in environments where they can be part of an experience by networking with the people that live there as well as staff. Satisfaction can be derived when they drink coffee surrounded by other people in a reception, rather having a coffee machine in their room – hence being involved. Internet and social media platforms have aided these young lads in changing the traveling scene around the world.
So for those hotels still operating as they were a decade or two ago, they need to adopt more and more technology if they want this business, the technology must help them get exposure across the globe. Hotels must also be sensitive to online social discussions and comments to ensure their brand is not losing out. Technology today helps hoteliers and the cloud is a boon to such properties who aspire to have similar solutions like five-stars, but do not want to bear that much capital expenditure. Do consider cloud-based hotel pms solutions and see what fits your needs and helps you grow.