This may not come as a surprise, but the new generation of business travelers are more technologically savvy, easier to reach and more social than other generations of travelers. According to research featured in this New York Times article – Young, Social and Paperless, this demographic (known as Millennials), is composed of young professionals under the age of 32 and makes-up 13% of total business travel hotel bookings (D.K. Shifflet & Associates).
If 13% doesn’t sound like a significant market to you, you may want to reconsider. Millennial business travelers are growing at a dramatic rate. In fact, Millennials saw their “business travel numbers [go] up more than 40% in 2011 from a year earlier” according to research by D.K. Shifflet & Associates, and they will likely continue to experience similar growth.
Get to know them
Before you can market to these travelers successfully, it’s important to know their preferences and the way they interact. Consider the following characteristics.
-Prefer to communicate through email and text
-Favor communicating in frequent and short bursts
-Adopt new travel technologies quickly
-Are using social media to check and deliver feedback
-Need to be connected 24/7
-Influence their colleagues to use new technology
It’s also important to note that Millennials are an extremely influential demographic. They adopt new travel technologies and convince their older colleagues (primarily baby boomers) to follow suit. They also share their feedback on social media and with colleagues. If they don’t have a good experience with your hotel online or on-site, you may be losing out on even more business.
To ensure that you’re always top of mind for this young generation, Maria Chevalier (from HP) recommends that “you have to communicate more frequently, but shorter.” They simply don’t have the patience to respond to more sizeable content. For this reason short messages delivered through rich visuals and storytelling is most effective and will resonate more with the recipient. They’re also, fond of using mobile devices and social media when booking a trip, checking in or delivering feedback. Make sure you encourage conversations on your hotel’s social media channels and that your online content is appealing and tells your hotel’s story through rich visuals.
Young business travelers expect that “they can go on a Smartphone or a laptop, log onto Facebook or send a text, and find what they are looking for immediately” according to Joe Bate from the Global Business Travel Association. They want to find everything online, have 24/7 access to information and expect a quick response time from you.
To meet this always on requirement, consider adjusting your hotel’s online strategy by expanding your communication channels to include social media, email and text and ensure that you have a mobile optimized version of your hotel website to make their hotel shopping and booking process more convenient.
The younger demographic is socially oriented and likes to be in groups. Show off your spaces and amenities on social media using rich content and emphasize the social aspects of your hotel through your online visual storytelling and hotel listings.
Millennials are a unique demographic and your online marketing strategy needs to be just as unique to target and attract them. Ensure that once they discover your hotel that you’re communicating your story and value proposition effectively through visuals and short, frequent bursts of information. This segment of business traveler can be a jackpot for you, now and in the future.
What are you doing to welcome millennial business travelers to your hotel online?