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THE HOSPITALITY AND RESTAURANT INDUSTRY


By P. Peraza

Have you noticed how hospitality and restaurant groups are quickly changing and adopting creative design and smart technologies? It is because of the current and future shift of their new customer base, Gen Y or Millennials, the generation born between 1980 and 1995 (more or less). About 80 million strong.

The baby boomer market is still a major sector but you may want to start setting up for the new big spenders. The first “batch” of Millennials is quickly approaching their top earning potential and that means if you are not prepared they are going somewhere else with their combined 625 billion spending power.

And enjoying food and travel is a top residual budget priority. Studies suggest they spend more on these two than in electronics, apparel and other goods. Experiences get them going. It is all about exploring and experimenting something new. Half identify themselves as foodies and are not interested in classic meat, gravy and potatoes offerings.

Who they are and what this means for you:

There is a HUGE provability they have done their research before they visit you. They know about your reviews, your menu and what you are all about. Make sure all your social “ducks” are in place. They expect you to have the menu online as well as be knowledgeable about what you are serving. If you do not, you will be perceived an untrustworthy.

When it comes to technology they get pretty annoyed when they cannot find the information they are looking for is not available on your website. Think about it, they were born into the Google era where all the information of the world is a few keystrokes away. They want it clear and extra fast and they rather not call you. At all!

Please make sure you have Wifi and don’t you dare charge for it. Their reasoning, “Why should I pay for it in the hotel when I can go to the nearest café and get it for free?” It is perceived as a rip off, especially when it is complementary at hostels. It is expected that you will have charging stations, not only in the rooms but in common areas as well. Professional Millennials like to work in common areas. Think of Starbucks.

Gen Y’s tend to favor fast casual, farm to table, interesting international foods (Kimchi tacos anyone?) and sharing concepts. Again, it is all about the experience and sharing it with the world. They also want to be engaged and entertained. This can be achieved in many ways. Interesting food presentations, original décor, fantastic music or amazing service are well received and assured to be shared with the world.

They like diversity; they are not all the same. This concept applies to what it is expected as an experience. Just because you are a hotel chain does not mean you need to look all the same. Especially if you are in a different city. Things like local beer, cheeses or an artist work will score you big points.

Be creative, this is your best advertising tool. Why? Because they will post it everywhere. Isn’t your Facebook full of pictures of food and showy posts? Be original and resourceful. Make sure you offer a unique experience; cookie cutter is not an option. According to a study made by Chase Bank Card Services, 97% of traveling Millennials will post on social media at least once a day. That could be you along with the good, the bad and the ugly.

Which brings us to service…The Millennial generations is a contradictory one, for one they love good things on the other hand they are not interested in pretentiousness. They want it all and want to share it all. Custom is king. Millennials spend in massages and dry cleaning but do not necessarily like room service with fuss, just drop the food. Prefer on the go breakfast; favor automated self sufficiency, Google is their concierge.

Last but increasingly important, Millennials like fairness and honesty and will select companies who are socially and eco responsible over the ones that are not. Some people call them the ME generation but studies suggest they have a big heart. 87% gave to charity last year and they are increasingly active with social issues.

Not so bad after all.

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