Adding Value Beyond the Rooms

Hotels capitalising on experience-based travel for millennials.

 

The millennial segment of travellers has fast become an extremely important group of consumers, worldwide. Now outnumbering the baby boomers and aging into financial independence, it is projected that the millennials will collectively spend 1.4 trillion dollars every year, by 2020. Due to their growing power of spending year-on-year, the Generation Y has not just changed the way brands do business across all industries but also identified the need for the brands to personalise communications with high-touch, responsive services. The hospitality industry is no different and as this group’s identity becomes more demarcated and the millennial masses seemingly take this industry by storm, the hotels have altered their approaches to target this audience by shaping their offerings and marketing strategies. Morever, providing them with exclusive opportunities, they can thrive on by flaunting their experiences on social media. Since this segment of travellers is particularly interested in experiences, it has therefore, become a crucial prerequisite for the hotels to enhance the value of their stay, much beyond offering just a room. The burning question for many hoteliers today is: What is the millennial segment looking out for? The answer simply is threefold: personalised and pocket-friendly experiences, digital accessibility and appropriate information on social media. Keeping in line with how some of the leading Indian hotel chains are constantly following the mantra of ‘Personalise, Create, Embrace’, we converse with the aspirational General Managers who not just unveil their hotel’s most notable millennial-friendly factor but also share the effective stratagems their hotel uses to engage more effectively with this value-driven young traveller segment.

 

Vijay Wanchoo,

Sr. Executive VP and General Manager, The Imperial New Delhi

Unquestionably, there is an increase in millennial travellers staying with us”Ideally placed as the heritage hotel in India’s capital city for the high-end and urbane guests, The Imperial New Delhi is shifting perceptions by catering to the millennial group of visitors whose needs and demands are crossways-opposite to that of the luxury segment of visitors. Acting as an opulent confluence of rich historical legacy with an awe-inspiring heritage and slick international appeal, the hotel, according to Wanchoo, is equally set to serve the new-age generation of travellers.

“Unquestionably, there has been an increase in millennial travellers staying with us in the last two years. The Imperial New Delhi has taken several steps to cater to the new breed of millennial travellers. A few years ago, the hotel management took a decision to extend complimentary Wi-Fi to the resident guests, staying with us while the hotel website and mobile site were revamped and made more user-friendly since most of the millennial travellers tend to book via mobile. Also, by offering attractive packages for ‘staycation’ along with experiences of hotel services were initiated to attract millennial travellers.” With a surfeit of accommodation alternatives available between Deco Room, Imperial Room, Heritage Room, Grand Heritage Room, Heritage Suites, Art Deco Suites and Royal Imperial Suites, the hotel is suitable to cater to any strata of millennial willing to purchase experiences with their disposable incomes.

It is observed that the millennial travellers look for unique experiences while choosing a hotel to stay at. Keeping in sync with this trend, Wanchoo shares that The Imperial is a blend of unconventional appearance, a mixture of Victorian and old Colonial with a touch of Art Deco, making it a distinctive landmark of Delhi. “In order to attract more customers, we offer several supplementary and unique experiences that include art tour of the hotel’s priceless collections, celebrating all major Indian festivals with resident guests in the hotel, conduct heritage walk tours of old Delhi along with its food trails.” Wanchoo further updates that the other two major attractions that are gaining good energy for increasing the millennials’ footfalls in the hotel are the complimentary Yoga sessions for the resident guests along with the culinary sessions organised along with the Chef of the hotel.

Manish Dayya

General Manager, Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre & HICC

Millennials are influencing the change across industries forcing companies to relook at strategies”

Nowadays, travelling is a lot more than just business and tourist destinations, a trend where millennials want to be true explorers and adventurers to their soul. Be it a business trip or vacation or a mix of both, they are keen on gathering information on the traditions, witness the local life, try local cuisine and capture every unique moment. To cater to their craving, NHCC offers the best of local flavours in its restaurants to create ‘instagrammable’ moments. Guests can customise their itineraries to add guided local experiences to curate a truly memorable trip along with recreational facilities, jogging track, fitness facility, gaming zones having Xboxes and PlayStation.

“Being MICE-driven property, we see a good mix of both millennial and seasoned travellers but as the millennials are taking over all walks of life, we see a definite surge in numbers. Today, millennials are looking for niche experiences, connectivity, ease of booking and access. We work on ensuring a comfortable stay for all our discerning guests and stay as relevant as possible,” informs Dayya and further continues, “As per the new trends, a large number of millennials are making the best use of each stay, mix work with pleasure, step out of the routine and live the place.” He adds that being environmentally conscious, lot of millennials also look for green meetings or close-to-nature options with minimal carbon footprints and with his property having acres of greens, Dayya and his team are able to cater to that need as well.

Poised to reshape the economy, Dayya believes that millennials are influencing the change across industries forcing companies to relook at strategies on how to attract their attention. And hotels are no exceptions. “These tech-savvy travellers who like to carry the world on their palms are always connected, well aware of the latest trends and want almost everything on their fingertips. A strong online presence on all platforms with high visibility and potential to book a room or dining experience is a must and what we are focusing on.” The new way to communicate and reach out to this segment is social media and we actively engage, creating a social chatter to gauge their attention.

 

Varun Chhibber

General Manager, The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel, Delhi

We don’t need to put much of extra effort to attract millennials”

As several reports subjected to millennial suggest that the two major criteria for them to visit a place are mainly the value-for-money and the convenience of getting there as the generation is more ‘instant’, The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel Delhi is therefore, ensuring to augment the existing services and facilities that the property boasts of, aiming to fortify its status of being one of the most millennial-friendly hotels. “A hotel like this, which is one of the best value hotels in India, well-connected with all the major places in Delhi, located in the hub of some major residential neighbourhoods and ideally, the nearest from the ‘Insta-worthy’ Taj Mahal, our property is well-fitted for millennial segment of visitors,” boasts Chibber.

“I have observed that millennials are no different from our generic guests as long as we provide them with bespoke hospitality and experiences. Therefore, we don’t need to put much of extra effort to attract millennials. The generation is more of storytellers; they discuss what other people are not discussing. So, if we give those exclusive moments that cannot be easily replicated by any other property, the hotel is bound to attract a large chunk of guests. Millennials have the wisdom of understanding the social and digital medium while having the ability to filter noise from a tune thus, select a hotel accordingly based on evaluations and reviews.”

As Chhibber points out how data recommends that maximum spending on experience happens between the ages of 30 and 40, today’s travellers prefers to go to more of ‘Instagrammable’ places that are more exotic and then, serve it on the social media platter sharing with friends, followers and contacts about their favourites of that particular destination. Also, he mentioned that the millennials nowadays are in a “double income; no kids” mode of living that results in more disposable money for a quality life and travelling. “So clearly, they are indeed a very important segment of travellers and we are truly focused on it based on the fact that they are the future. Even on the current number and statistics, we receive a large number of millennials in this hotel with between 25 to 35 per cent of the total footfall. Additionally, with our favourite draws such as Cherry Bar and Club Cuba, we see more millennials flocking to our hotels.”

Sanjeev K. Nayar

General Manager, WelcomHeritage

As the flow of ‘seeking an experience’ has increased, so is the number of millennials”

Millennial travellers are definitely an adventurous generation that lends to the massive demand of the digital age and are changing the travel industry, in significant ways. This group consists of wanderers who have customised travel needs as they demand a higher level of personalised service that airlines, hotels and tour groups, around the world, are scrambling to provide. At WelcomHeritage, under the supervision of Nayar, the team tries to connect with the guests more as their friends. “We make sure that our customer service is in top order, we are active on all major social media platforms, we are open to collaborations with social media influencers and are ever-ready to cater to any personalisation,” Nayar adds.

“People, nowadays, are not just seeking a hotel to stay; they are looking for an experience. Keeping that in mind, WelcomHeritage has a bouquet of properties where guests can enjoy wildlife safari in the mesmerising beauty of the forest landscape or witness the fine architecture of 200 years old cluster of temples and forts; cruise along the lake in the colourful shikaras, walk around the country’s first heritage village, relish the panoramic view of the snow-clad Himalayan Peaks, experience authentic village tour on tractor, plunge into the spectacular infinity pool with astounding views or feel the adrenaline rush with activities such as rock climbing, turban tying, horse safari, sand dune safari, bird watching, trekking and hiking.” Nayar further boasts of the fact that WelcomHeritage’s brand presence across 37 locations in 15 states is an added advantage for catering to the millennials travelling to several unconventional destinations.

Almost every day, we come across posts on the widely-used social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook from this generation that tells the world about what they enjoyed the most during their stay. It gives hotels a constant encouragement to see that they have been able to cater to the needs in these changing times. “As the flow of ‘seeking an experience’ has increased, so is the number of millennials. As far as a rough figure is concerned, we can say that we have noticed a 20 per cent increase in the arrival of the millennials to our hotels,” informs Nayar.

Pankaj Saxena

General Manager, Radisson Blu Pune Hinjawadi

Emotional connection is the first step to ensure millennial travellers with positive experience”

The millennials want to learn something whilst travelling. This group of modern travellers want and expect to have all amenities for a reasonable price. Though their spending power is growing, they are still a price-sensitive group. Millennials are always looking to get the biggest bang for their lowest buck which is why Radisson Blu Pune Hinjawadi is giving that ‘extra’ touch of modern personalisation to its guests. To name a few, the hotel places a local attractions guide in the room and elaborately celebrates guests’ birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions that provide more appeal on their social media pages.

“Millennial and families represent around 30 per cent of the hotel’s overall weekend and long holidays’ business. Millennials are very social, tech-savvies and well-connected on online spaces. We are very much targeting a millennial mindset versus a generational audience. Also, we strongly emphasise on millennial-focused amenities including complimentary Wi-Fi, an Instagram-worthy atmosphere and locally-inspired cuisine. If the hotel attracts a lot of young guests, old guests will also show up along with them, thus generating our overall business,” comments Saxena. “These days, a millennial’s bucket list include experiences they want to have, activities they want to try, people and cultures they want to meet and get to know” and the property is progressively acclimatising to these shifting changes.

Moving ahead, he preaches that going the extra mile to create a more meaningful experience for his hotel guests turns current guests into brand ambassadors to promote the hotel to their followers, both online and offline. “Creating an emotional connection is the first step to ensure millennial travellers with a positive experience. One way to do this is to discuss or provide an option to guests prior to their visit upon arrival at the hotel. Customising a guest’s room or suite with birthday balloons, chilled champagne or a graduation gift is a thoughtful touch that will create an emotional connection with the customer and also inspire them to post about it on social media. The ability to check-in or check-out via mobile devices is something this specific generation enjoys and takes advantage of, due to its speedy and prompt process.”

Gorav Arora

General Manager, Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach

The hotel has seen a fair fluctuation in the target audience”

Located strategically in the financial capital of India while offering one of the exceptional beachfront views, Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach is a sheer amalgamation of modern comfort and magnificent design modules ideal for millennial segment of travellers. While leveraging from the very fact of its magnificent location, the hotel’s General Manager, Arora realises the fact that by offering an experience that is exceptional, seamless and continuously personalised, Novotel Juhu Beach will surely stand to establish the millennial loyalty that eventually would translate into exciting revenue opportunity, both now and in future.

“The central attraction of our property is the beachfront, which helps us fascinate guest from all age groups and in creating a loyalist. The other major attribute is our six award-winning Food and Beverage outlets which makes the hotel a gastronomical haven for all. Gadda Da Vida is an outlet liked by both millennial as well as rest of the age groups, it sets a perfect ambience to spend an evening by the beach as you witness the mesmerising sunset. Secondly, Sampan – property’s Chinese dining has a set fan base for years now, Chef Penpa is known for the food he serves. The outlet is recognised amongst most of celebrities as their favourite go-to place. The hotel has seen a fair fluctuation in the target audience,” he shares while highlighting the hotel’s competitive advantages.

Arora shares that the millennials are an informed, value-driven group of travellers that, with the help of the right hotel business insights technology and guest service approach, can represent long-standing value to your hotel. To maximise this clientele, Novotel Juhu leveraging from the Accor advantages, makes sure of doing its marketing in a way that is both mobile-friendly and engaging at the same time. “Technology plays a major role in their life. Therefore, the Accor mobile app is specifically designed to cater such guest who prefers living on click. We run various offers on the app that are best suited for their requirements. Accor has also introduced the day stay rates. These rates are essentially a room for the day, between 9:00 am to 7:00 pm priced approximately at 60 per cent of the BAR. The customer can check in at check-out anytime as per the booking with the maximum stay duration cap of six hours,” informs Arora.

Kush Kapoor

Area General Manager, Roseate Hotels & Resorts

Our key strength is that we have a young, energetic crowd working for the guests”

Most millennials connect better with the hotel brands that offer the experiences they value. And capitalising on this growing trend, the hotels are constantly trying to catch the pulse of this stratum of the population, in order to keep running the show successfully and create a top-of-the-mind recall amongst them. Showcasing an innovative spectrum of hospitality for its young guests, Roseate House, Gurugram, an uber-luxury hotel in the capital embodies unconventional, creative and contemporary designs and intends to gratify the next generation business and leisure travellers.

“Millennials have the money with them; they continuously look out for experiences, however, they get jaded very easily. Therefore, to keep them occupied and engaged, the hotels need to continuously work in tandem with their expectations and changing travel patterns while making sure that their every stay experience is unique. We, at Roseate House, have always believed in serving the guests with personalisation that comes in line with the innovation. To make the experience more bespoke for guests, we provide them with a hotel leather tag with their name embossed on it. We give funky t-shirts to our frequent visitors and pamper them with complimentary spa and other discount vouchers. We also have a virtual game in the hotel as well as a movie hall – Upstage. There is one hour of belly dancing session and Aqua Zumba, which is complimentary for the in-house guests as well. This has increased the hotel’s popularity amongst the millennial guests to prefer staying with us more during the weekends, which eventually increases the occupancy rate to 70 to 80 per cent. The average maximum of about 70 to 80 per cent of our guests is between the age group of 25 to 35 years and similar is the age strength of the employees,” says Kapoor.

Since millennials have been and will be around for a while in increasing numbers, Kapoor apprehends that it’s very important to understand this potential segment because they are both the providers and the consumers. “Our key strength is that we have a young, energetic crowd working for the guests and I have always believed that if can synergise and hold that energy and channelise it in the right direction, it goes out well for the guests too. And to keep the team motivated within their shift hours, there is an aerobics class for one hour where all the HODs and the entire sales team participate. Saturday is usually reserved for Yoga sessions. This idea of keeping my staff happy reflects on the satisfied guests staying with us.”

Parmeet Singh Nayar

General Manager, Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi

We have focused on developing personalised, unique and meaningful experiences”

Known as an ideal home away from home for a reason, Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi is nestled in the heart of the capital and is well-known for its sophisticated ambiance and gourmet dining experiences which have become a must for the millennials. Considering comfortable stay and innovative offerings are the key requirements of a millennial traveller, Nayar believes that the usual or traditional way of running a business does not attract this curious segment anymore. Therefore, the hotel, under the supervision of Nayar constantly strives towards achieving the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation that makes it stand out in the capital.

“To cater to young, millennial travellers, we have focused on developing personalised, unique and meaningful experiences to have them visit us again. Also, keeping in mind their dependency on technology and inclination towards experiential mobile Apps, we launched the Shangri-La mobile app that takes luxury travel to a new level and let our guests book, check-in and manage their stays with complete ease. Talking about the numbers, in last two years, 36 per cent of our total guests were millennials,” Nayar shares.

“As the millennials prefer dining spaces where they can relax compared to a formal, fine dining set-up, we offer the most authentic cuisine in an informal setting. Our specialty restaurants offer spots of romance such as alfresco decks and the overlooking lush gardens where the couples can go for a walk over unending conversations. At the same time, for those travelling on business, keeping in mind the paucity of time and demand for quick lunches, we introduced fast lunch and easy orders at Sorrento and dim sum lunch at Shang Palace. Elevating the nightlife scene, Grappa bar at the hotel is a stirring destination for millennials who never call it a night,” he continues.

Since eco-friendly practices are becoming a norm in the hotel industry and millennials are considered as very community-based travellers, Nayar asserts that the hotel’s CSR initiatives play a key role towards establishing the brand’s opinion and Shangri La’s Eros New Delhi continues to embrace responsibility for corporate actions. “We follow a multi-pronged strategy to make a positive contribution to society including our initiatives towards reducing the use of plastic in the hotel.”

Sachin Malhotra

General Manager, Novotel ImagicaKhopoli

We have started using digital technology for personalised service and information”

While most millennials are looking for an ‘experience’ when planning a holiday, some brands in India like Novotel ImagicaKhopoli have already discovered this and are recalibrating their marketing strategies to emphasise more on experiences. Positioned right next to India’s most exciting amusement park, Imagica and surrounded by the lush greenery of the Sahyadri Hills, Novotel ImagicaKhopoli is surely an enchanted world of joy where people can relax and look for transformational experiences. Ensuring that the millennials are well taken care of, the resort caters to the exacting desires of this segment through a customised approach and digital convenience services.

“The millennial generation wants it all; they want to be technologically connected, require instant gratification, a trip needs to be an experience and demand value for their money. We are located adjacent to India’s most exciting amusement park, Imagica Theme Park, a place where the imagination reigns and fun is the number one priority. We have exclusive activities and animations department, which conducts various activities for the guests of all age groups to participate in and keep themselves engaged and entertained. Food is one of the greatest factors which help in creating a memorable experience for guests. There are endless facets at the resort property which a millennial can look forward to with a wide and varied programme of activities and excursions,” shares Malhotra.

Since millennial travellers live in the world of technology and are always scouting for a hi-tech, seamless experience, technology and digital marketing are undoubtedly a not-to-miss opportunity for the hotels. Keeping in sync with this idea, Novotel ImagicaKhopoli has been persistently working upon the millennial requirements while matching up with the emerging trends of this segment. “Last two years have seen a major change in terms of millennial guests. There has been around 40 per cent increase in the number of millennials preferring to stay at the hotel in the last two years. Due to this demand, the hotel has expanded in order to cater to the same which includes introducing new rooms. The era of technology has brought about a lot of changes; we have started using digital technology for personalised service and information (Virtual Concierge). From past two years, we have improved comfort, modularity, technology, connectivity and added a lot of thrilling activities to make our millennial guest experience unforgettable. We have made sure that our websites are mobile-friendly and easy to navigate. Being highly active and creative on social media is another important factor to attract millennial, as visuals help guests to take the decision,” he further highlights.

Manu Vashishth

General Manager, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Kota

We are a young hotel in a young city”

Since Rajasthan is one of the enthralling destinations in India offering bespoke experiences, its third largest city Kota exudes an aura of its own and is a must visit for travel connoisseurs. Also popularly referred to as ‘the Education Hub’ of Rajasthan, Kota has gained the trust of everyone when it comes to delivering the best education. It’s no surprise that education forms an integral part of Kota’s economy and the hotels here are leveraging the opportunity to its fullest potential.

Elaborating about the millennial-friendly attributes of Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Kota, Vashishth says, “We are a young hotel in a young city. Kota is known for student’s education hub. There are 1.5 lakh students that come to Kota, every year. Also, the number of students is expected to increase to approx. 2.5 lakh per year with new coaching institutes opening in the city. Being located in the heart of the coaching hub, our hotel has the competitive advantage of attracting millennial guests. 25 per cent of our business comes from this major segment which is the backbone of the city. We are the first choice when it comes to the hotels for the numerous visiting parents, education and admission fares, faculty sessions, visiting celebrity / motivational speakers, institute events and more.”

Luxuries that once appealed to all travellers are no longer as attractive to millennials. Instead, ease of convenience and instant gratification are the focus of this generation. Since the hoteliers need to be mindful of providing cool guest experiences to this segment of travellers, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Kota is leaving no stone unturned while providing the best possible experience personalised with the idea of making those experiences cherishable. “Since the hotels have also transformed their working with time and have become proactive towards the client trends, our hotel, therefore, works on enhancing their basic wants. You would find daily dynamic pricing of rooms, swift Wi-Fi connection, regular restaurant and bar offers, open to sky bar and barbecue every evening, innovative buffet choices, student discount, events such as stand-up comedian / poetic sessions / live bands and more, as a regular feature in the hotel,” Vashishth continues while speaking about how his hotel spoils the millennial guests with choice.

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