The first step in booking a trip for many millennials is not the hotel web site or group room block portal, but the destination’s Instagram feed. A new report conducted by U.K. furniture maker Knightsbridge and in partnership with global data collection agency Viga, of 1,000 18- to 34-year-olds who had booked hotels in the past two years found that 73 percent checked the hotel’s social media feed before booking. When asked how they find and select hotels, 83 percent said they were more likely to book a hotel after seeing photos from people they follow on social media.
As millennials continue to enter the hospitality industry, hotels are continuously having to stay up-to-date with technology in order to please guests. And planners are choosing venues that have the best tech offerings for both their events and their attendees.
Netflix and Wi-Fi
What amenities are most important to this discerning group? The Knightsbridge survey found 70 percent of respondents reported that they would be more likely to stay at a hotel with amenities such as keyless entry, mobile payments and other tech advancements. On top of this, more than half would return to the hotel based on its Wi-Fi connection. Smart televisions with Netflix also topped hotel needs for millennials.
However, it’s not just the casual millennial travelers that hotels are catering to anymore—planners, no matter the age, engage with hotel technology as it becomes more prevalent. And these planners are consistently keeping their attendees in mind when viewing potential venues.
“We expect technology to be beautiful, invisible and useful,” says Tahira Endean, head of events at SITE Global. “We demand seamless Wi-Fi for multiple devices, security for our guests and ease of access and communication when creating and delivering programs in the same way it works in our homes, offices and lives.”
Hotels Keep it Current
Plenty of hotels are going above and beyond now to help meet the demands; they risk losing business otherwise from casual vacationers, event attendees and meeting planners alike.
Hotel Espacio, opening in July in Waikiki, will offer in-room iPads that can control lighting and temperature, while a messenger service can request necessities and manage reservations. Sanctuary Cap Cana Spa & Resort, in Punta Cana in Dominican Republic, connects technology with comfort—a screen in the raindrop showers allows guests to control temperature and pressure of the water. And W South Beach has truly embraced advancing technology with their new 2,056-square-foot E-WOW Penthouse Suite; the two-bedroom suite offers a Sonos surround-sound system, smart-glass in the master bath that can be clear or opaque and an in-mirror television, among other tech amenities.
“With travelers consistently becoming more focused on convenient and tech-savvy amenities, we understand that we need to equip ourselves for long-term success by staying relevant and efficient,” says Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach’s director of sales and marketing, Frank Cavella.
Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach is also dedicated to staying ahead of the curve—the hotel now features Plum, an in-suite wine dispenser that teaches guests more about the background of its wines, offers tasting notes and then allows guests to select their wine of choice. This means there’s no need for a bar, or even room service—something that is still considered a luxury.
Cavella says hotels acknowledge and enjoy the positive responses they receive from their amenities. “Since debuting our in-suite Plum wine dispensers, we’ve received incredibly positive feedback,” says Cavella. “It’s definitely fulfilling when you see that the resort team is curating the ultimate travel experience for guests.
Guests Remain in the Driver’s Seat
Hotels can offer as many amenities as they like, but it ultimately comes down to what guests want. “We have to be able to power up in our rooms, offices, lounges and lobbies,” says Endean. “Can we project from laptop to presentation screen, for a meeting of six or 600? Mobile check-in and my smartphone as a room key? Yes please.” But she stresses that hotels need to focus on the fundamentals. “Let’s get the basics perfect, then add in the cool stuff.”
Hotels are constantly innovating current technology to stand out from their competition, and guests are at the front of hotels’ minds when deciding on amenities. “Our implementation process begins with paying close attention to guest comments and social media trends, which we then brainstorm with our team to come up with new opportunities that would work well with the image and clientele of our resort,” explains Cavella.