Ana Cvetkovic is the founder of BLOOM Digital Marketing, a creative marketing agency that helps the hospitality and tourism industries reach millennials online. Ana has worked with the Smithsonian, AAA, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, TouchBistro, as well as restaurants and boutique hotels throughout the United States. As a proud member of the millennial generation, Ana enjoys getting travel and dining inspiration from Instagram.
Whether you love to hate them, hate to love them, or are one yourself, millennials have become an unignorable economic force. Millennials’ spending power and habits make them ideal consumers for the hospitality industry.
Pay attention, hospitality content marketers! Whether you represent a restaurant, bar, hotel, cruise ship or event space, here’s why the hospitality industry needs to be marketing to millennials.
1. Millennials have the most spending power of any generation.
Despite growing up and entering the workforce during the Great Recession, millennials, born roughly between 1980 and 1995, have made an economic comeback. Despite all odds, millennials have the most spending power of any generation before theirs, with an estimated $200 billion per year spend, and $10 trillion lifetime spend as a generation.
With billions at the ready, how are millennials choosing to spend their income?
2. Millennials would rather spend money on experiences than on things.
If you’re a millennial, it may not come as a surprise to you that 78% of your fellow generation mates prefer spending money on experiences rather than on material goods. Social status is no longer achieved by owning luxury watches and purses, driving a nice car (Uber, please!) or owning a house with a white picket fence.
For millennials, status is achieved by being the first of your friends to visit an off-the-beaten path travel destination (goodbye Paris, hello Porto), by knowing the password to the trendiest speakeasy, and by having access to exclusive experiences.
Fortunately for hospitality and restaurant marketers, millennials are primed to spend their $10 trillion on exactly what you advertise! Here’s proof:
The average millennial eats out five times a week, according to Bankrate.com. Compared to older generations, only one-third of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers dine out at least three times a week.
A majority of young millennials (ages 21-26) drinks at a bar at least once a week. Older generations are less than half as likely to enjoy a weekly happy hour.
Millennials are surpassing previous generations in travel spending and are blurring the lines between traveling for work and for pleasure, according to Mintel.
When it comes to choosing where to stay on vacation, disruptors like AirBnB are giving millennials the opportunity to immerse themselves in local cultures and have more authentic experiences. However, millennials with incomes of $75k+ still choose hotels over AirBnB, so traditional accommodations are here to stay.
Now that you know millennials’ spending habits, let’s examine how they decide what to spend their money on.
3. Most millennials review online content before making purchasing decisions.
We are lucky to live in a time with so many options when it comes to dining out and making travel plans, but with myriad possibilities comes great pressure to make the best decision possible. Millennials vet online content to maximize their purchasing decisions.
Something as simple as deciding where to eat comes with many interactions with online content. According to TouchBistro, most millennials visit a restaurant’s website, menu or social media before deciding where to eat. A millennial might also do the following before choosing a restaurant:
Scroll through Instagram to see where friends have eaten recently
Search Google Maps for “restaurants near me”
Use Yelp to see what the restaurants’ most popular dishes are
Unlike members of older generations who rely on travel agents to plan vacations, millennials take a hands-on approach. Boston Consulting Group confirms that millennials rely on online content when making travel decisions. This interaction with online content might include:
Browsing Pinterest or Instagram for destination inspiration.
Reading travel blogs and following the social media accounts of local influencers or tourism boards to research attractions and restaurants.
Reading reviews on TripAdvisor to find the perfect accommodation.
Why The Hospitality Industry Needs to Be Marketing to Millennials
As millennials’ spending power continues to grow, businesses in the hospitality industry will only remain competitive if they maintain a compelling and dynamic online presence. While creating a memorable in-person experience is the cornerstone of hospitality, leaving online content as an afterthought will alienate millennials, who are ready to spend on the experiences the hospitality industry is providing. For the hospitality industry to thrive, digital marketing needs to be a priority.