With all the buzz about how Millennials are changing the workplace, how are they shifting planners’ hotel choices? According to a recent joint survey by Prevue magazine and the Incentive Research Foundation of 128 meeting planners and IRF supporters, a full 77 percent said they see generational demographics as changing the way they plan events in the next 2 to 5 years—and including property brands that appeal to Millennials was one of their top 3 strategies. The trend is most evident among smaller meetings and incentives (less than 100 people), where 64 percent of planners of these events said they were altering their hotel choices.
The major hotel chains are responding with brands geared toward the youngest generation and a mission of fostering a uniquely local experience. For example, Marriott has AC, Edition and Moxy, Hilton has created Canopy and Starwood has introduced Tribute. There’s Radisson Red, which will have its own mobile app that will let guests order a drink at the bar and manage the air conditioning in their rooms. And Richard Branson is opening the new Virgin Hotels brand, the first in a converted bank building in Chicago and others to follow in Nashville and NYC.
Among the features of this new segment, all important to the tech-savvy traveler: high speed Wi-Fi, multiple outlets right on the headboards for charging phones and mobile check-in and check-out. They also include shared living spaces where people can meet each other and healthy food choices via take-out, which in some cases is replacing room service (Tommie, a new brand by Thomson Hotels and opening in New York’s Hudson Square, will feature a “grab and go” marketplace.) You’ll often find craft cocktails in the lounge, turntables in the rooms and bikes in the lobby.
“Just like home,” says Joost DeMeyer, CEO of First Incentive Travel, “but with a bartender.”