One of the fallacies a hotel chain can fall for is the idea that its brand name is all it needs to thrive. True, a big name and brand can do plenty to help bring in custom, but this will only go so far. As tastes change and new generations emerge with their own ideas of how they want to spend their holidays or conduct business, wise chains will make adjustments.
Whether it is online bookings or the provision of high-tech features like free Wi-Fi, there are obvious elements of modernisation, but at times something more fundamental is required. Earlier this year an article in Business Day noted just how much some chains are adjusting, as the rise of the lifestyle hotel is being increasingly accommodated. The likes of Marriott, Hilton, Starwood and InterContinental Hotels are, it noted, taking notice of the tastes of millennials. After all, the focus on baby boomers and business travellers, as well as the distinctive tastes of this group. Whether it is eating locally-sourced food, offering the chance to carry out work while sitting with a coffee, the opportunity to choose their own room or enjoy a mini bar with a wide variety of drinks, their styles of consumption differ from those of the previous generation. Trouser presses and bell boys are definitely out.
To undertake such change is a significant move to say the least. It means doing away with all kinds of tradition and while it may make sense to change the decor and layout of a hotel to accommodate the kind of facilities millennials want, this also means older staff must be retrained, while newer recruits must show that they can understand and serve this market. Nonetheless, with the millennials growing as a demographic – they will be the largest by 2020 – it makes sense to adjust to their desires. This is a group that wants to be much more active on holiday, travel further, enjoy more ‘authentic’ experiences and stay in places that have their own individual twists, rather than being a clone of all the other hotels in the chain.
Moreover, hotels need to be seen to be doing this, with the tech-savvy millennials having a propensity to use the web more to research hotels and find the ones that suit their needs and wants. At the same time, millennials have more money, a greater desire to achieve a work-life balance and high expectations. There is no doubt that meeting them is a challenge – and one chains simply cannot duck.