For business travelers, the benefits of staying at a name-brand hotel come down to quality and trust: Guests know what to expect from their stay with a big brand, and they can appreciate the convenience when heading out-of-town for conferences or meetings.
But is that enough? Millennial travelers – who will make up more than 50% of all hotel guests around the world by 2020 – crave much more than quality. And as they plan big events and conferences, today’s event organizers are trying harder than ever to appeal to the Millennials in their target market.
From personalized amenities to more authentic local experiences, younger guests are seeking out a greater sense of uniqueness from the hotel experience – which is why they often find independent hotels and bed-and-breakfasts so appealing when traveling for pleasure.
Of course, organizers are still planning business events with the big chain hotels that can meet their needs. But as they tailor their events to younger audiences, organizers are also growing more likely to book with hotels that can provide more exciting or interesting stays for their Millennial attendees.
By taking inspiration from their smaller competitors, big hotel chains can get event organizers more excited about hosting events at their venues (and more eager to re-book conferences year after year).
Take Check In Beyond Reception
If your only interactions with guests take place at check-in and check-out, your chain is offering hospitality in name only.
Independent hotels and B&B’s invest effort in establishing more personal relationships with each guest. That can be hard to replicate at scale for a big hotel brand, but having more face-to-face engagement with guests can go a long way toward making your hotel a more appealing venue.
Consider having a special concierge available to conference attendees, and sharing his or her contact information with each guest at check-in. And maybe include a picture too, if you can’t introduce the person right there at reception.
Incorporate Local Color
For some guests – especially Millennials – the fun of traveling for a conference comes from traveling somewhere new or different from their everyday. But as many of us know, business travel is usually too heavy on “business” to allow for much time exploring a new city.
Authenticity and local culture are huge trends in travel, and an area where independent operators are far outperforming the big guys. Even if your attendee guests will spend most of their time in breakout rooms and the Grand Ballroom, you can make them feel welcome by bringing more local color into their experience.
Small efforts can go a long way here too. Consider adding works by local artists into your lobby, guest rooms, and meeting areas, or incorporating regional delicacies and local ingredients into the menu for conference meals and snack breaks. Work with your CVB or Destination Marketing Organization to figure out the best and easiest ways to show off your area.
Mirror Your Target Market
Ultimately, appealing to younger consumers – and the event organizers trying to bring them in, too – means thinking like a Millennial. That’s why hiring more of the Millennials you’d like to see stay with you can be so beneficial to your business, especially if you encourage them to offer guests the kind of experiences they themselves would appreciate.
If you have a conference-guest concierge, for example, encourage them to get involved: Perhaps he or she can participate in the event, get to know attendees, and stay in touch about anything guests need throughout their stays. Making guests feel like they have a go-to “guide” in-house can make their experience more personal.
And make sure your whole staff is knowledgeable about your hotel, informed about your local area, and eager to direct guests to great attractions to enjoy during their downtime. Doing so might make Millennials (and event organizers) more eager to book with you on return trips to your city for leisure, too.