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Millennials want a hotel room that looks good on Instagram, rather than a cheap one, says HotelTonight CEO

  • Millennials would rather take the luxury room at a deeper discount than take the cheapest room, according to mobile travel app HotelTonight.
  • The generation, which is now the biggest group of business travelers, is also more likely to turn a work trip into vacation.
  • Instagram and other social media apps have created a desire for picture-perfect travel

When it comes to picking a hotel room, millennials prefer a deal on a picture-perfect room they can share on social media over saving money on a cheaper room, according to data from mobile travel app HotelTonight.

“Fundamentally they are different as a generation, which extends to how they travel and how they really travel for business,” said HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank. What they really want is value. They’re really interested in spending a little bit more to get a whole lot more versus previous generations who just want to spend the absolute least amount of money as possible.”

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A study by Internet Marketing Inc. found 97 percent of millennials will post on social media while traveling, with three-quarters posting once a day. Sixty percent were also willing to upgrade their travel, whether that meant early deplaning or purchasing Wi-Fi. Another study by Mintel showed travel was more important than paying student loans, buying a “big ticket” item or starting a family.

The changes have become more important, especially because millennials really like to travel. Millennial travelers are now the largest segment of business travelers, taking an average of 7.7 business trips over the last 12-month period according to report from MMGY Global. And 77 percent of these younger travelers are more likely to turn a work trip into vacation, compared to just 58 percent of GenXers and 43 percent of Baby Boomers.

HotelTonight, which allows travelers to find discounted last-minute accommodations from day of to seven days in advance, found millennials were more likely to take a heavily discounted luxury room over a full price standard room that may be cheaper.

And keeping in line with wanting a shareworthy experience, the company noticed millennials preferred boutique hotels with a unique vibe where locals hung out rather than existing name-brand chains. Other generations received their inspiration from mass-market magazines, Shank said, but millennials get their inspiration from social media experiences which can be very tailored and curated to a person’s tastes.

“It’s not only about broadcasting interesting things and doing interesting things, but it’s also about receiving inspiration,” Shank said.

That’s not the only change. Millennial travelers are twice as confident in booking travel all on mobile than those over 35, according to HotelTonight. The company has seen the number of business travelers using their hotel on-demand app increase 53 percent year over year.

 

As a result, HotelTonight redesigned its app with the millennial traveler in mind. Updated features include a larger map view so people can tell where the hotel is located, more calls to action so users can create lists of favorite hotels and making it faster to scroll through the list of available hotels and switch between features. In addition, hotels are listed in a “card-based” design so it’s easier to see.

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“This is a generation that grew up with mobile as their first computer, and it was probably an iPhone,” said Shank. “In many cases they are very comfortable with it. That is the platform of preference and where they are spending their time, and how they purchase things. We want to be a mobile-first and mobile-only company building and catering to the needs of the mobile traveler.”

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