Millennial (those ages 18-34) travelers will make up more than 50% of all hotel guests by 2020, according to the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. Companies need to define their strategies based on this demographic group’s personality traits and habits—they travel a lot; are early adopters of technology; like personalized interactions and are spontaneous. Hotels will want to please them with easy check-in and gourmet dining experiences at reasonable prices. In return, satisfied millennials will actively promote their businesses on social media channels.
This, combined with reports of millennials surpassing baby boomers as the most numerous living generation within the next few years, means that this generation could and will seriously impact all industries, including hospitality, food and hotel services.
One of the biggest impacts millennials have made on the tourism and hospitality industry is the emergence of the foodie culture, which has put a much higher emphasis on dining and food service than previous generations of travelers.
This increased focus on food has changed the way hotels and even local attractions approach the food and beverages they offer their guests. Think of the emerging trends in the past few years of rainbow food or black ice cream – these are just a couple examples of how restaurants and other food service companies are looking to target the millennial generation.
Some other ways millennials are changing the restaurant/food service industry include:
- Millennials eat out more.
This generation is characterized by its emphasis on experiences, and dining at restaurants has become much more of a social experience than with past generations. They use meals as a way to connect with others. In addition to going out to eat, millennials are also eating more takeout, which has helped fuel the food-delivery industry with businesses like Foodmandu, Foodmario and Bhojdeals.
- Millennials are more conscious of what they are eating.
As a large portion of the overall population, millennials are causing restaurants and other food service brands to move away from food filled with fat, sugar and preservatives to healthier, organic and even vegan or gluten-free options. Not only are restaurants changing their ingredients, but there’s been an even bigger focus on listing ingredients and calories on menus, which is in a large part thanks to the millennial focus on what they are actually eating.
- Millennials are willing to spend more on food.
Along with their focus on choosing healthier options, millennials are also willing to pay more to have their organic food items. This applies whether they’re eating out or getting food from the grocery store as, again, millennials want new experiences and are willing to pay for them.
- Millennials are changing marketing strategies within the industry.
As a generation that grew up during the internet boom, millennials look more to digital avenues rather than television to get ads and information about restaurants. Millennials also greatly value the opinions of friends and family when making decisions, which has created an increased importance on positive reviews for establishments.
- Millennials are impacting restaurant technology.
From the way we order food to the way we pay, millennials have had a big impact on restaurant technology as both users and developers. For example, online ordering will soon surpass in-store ordering thanks to the millennial generation.
Millennials have not only changed the way we check into hotels, but have also influenced several other aspects of the hotel industry, such as through technology, amenity offerings, loyalty programs and more.
One of the biggest influences millennials have had is on the idea of home sharing. Millennials were a driving factor for services like Airbnb, which allowed people to list their own apartments and homes for rent to vacationers.
This had a serious influence on the hotel industry, making it difficult for traditional hotels to compete with ideal locations and home amenities.
Surprisingly, however, new studies in 2018 found that millennials were shifting away from home-sharing services in favor of traditional hotels. This is mostly due to an increased value of safety as a travel consideration for the generation.