Generation Experience: How the Millennial Shift Impacts Luxury Resorts

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With more than 75 million members in the United States, the Pew Research Center has confirmed that the Millennial Generation, entering their 30’s and creating families of their own, now outnumbers the Baby Boomer Generation. Millennials are no longer the traveler of the future, rather they are the largest current generation and are the traveler of today. Their preferences and affinities are beginning to shape all of travel and hospitality, including the luxury market.

“The Millennial Generation is another wonderful wave of people discovering us and becoming part of our family,” commented Allyson Cavaretta, Director of Sales and Marketing for the family owned Meadowmere Resort in Maine. “It is exciting to see the generations join us and change over the past 30 years.”

Resort properties with a focus on outdoor and adventurous activities have been among the first to experience this shift in generations.

“This Millennial Generation enjoys an active vacation that is purposeful,” commented Tracey Welsh, General Manager of Red Mountain Resort in Ivins, Utah. “It fits well with what Red Mountain has been doing for nearly 20 years.”

Some properties in this segment have not seen much generational shift. For example, as a high-end luxury property located in a semi-remote location, Nemacolin Woodlands primarily serves Baby Boomers and Generation X. Similarly, The Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, New York also continues to serve a more mature guest.

“We haven’t noticed much of a shift, yet,” commented Tjibbe Lambers from the Otesaga Resort Hotel. “However, we have started to adapt our guest service procedures to the needs of Millennial guests as part of our long range plans.”

“Seasonally, our resort guests are families and vacationers,” commented Susan Engler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. “We do see the business traveler and corporate participants getting younger as Millennials are joining the workforce. We have been paying close attention to their needs.”

For many luxury resorts, this change in traveler demographics is creating an opportunity to re-energize their operations and add new programs. Their nickname is the “Experience Generation” and these Millennials want to immerse themselves in their surroundings. To accommodate these preferences, properties are revamping their recreation programs and food & beverage offerings, as well as the public and private spaces on property.

“The shift in our guests is bringing a fun, renewed sense of energy to the Chateau,” commented Tanya Walker from Chateau Beaver Creek in Colorado.

“The older demographic are generally looking for quiet, peaceful, relaxing experiences while younger generations are often in search of more active, adventure, sporting and group “live-for-the-moment” experiences – the more local the better,” Marc Rodriguez, General Manager of Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Millennials have high expectations that their technology needs will be met on property. While it has been their voracious appetite for bandwidth that has been driving hotels and resorts to upgrade their guest connections, all guests benefit from the faster Wi-Fi speeds.

“Millennials want a very high level of service, food standards and technology, however they want it in a very casual and comfortable setting.” commented Carol Sullivan, Director of Sales and Marketing for The White Mountain Hotel & Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire. “We have redesigned our restaurant and are redesigning our guest rooms to meet these requirements.”

Guest communication takes on many forms with Millennial guests. They are less inclined to pick up the phone or visit the front desk and more likely to want to be able to communicate with the property via their app of choice.

“With Millennials, response times for requests are typically shorter, as are booking windows,” mentioned Mark Rodrigues, General Manager of Esperanza Resort.

Many properties report upgrading their website to streamline the booking process and be more mobile friendly. They are developing rich content to share on social media and listening to the various channels to ensure they are part of the conversation.

“We have not altered our core product – a great family vacation with a cozy, comfortable feel,” commented Cavaretta of Meadowmere. “However, how we help create the story of that great vacation has evolved as the tastes and interests of our customers have changed. We present the Meadowmere not just as the place to stay, but the place to have that great Ogunquit adventure.”

By Amanda Wisell Courtesy HospitalityNet

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