Millennials will become the largest customer group in the hospitality industry in 2020. What does that mean for HR managers working in the industry?
This age group has very unique demands and requests when it comes to traveling and hospitality, and is responsible for some major shifts in the industry. For example, Millennials prioritize experiences, which drives hotels throughout the world to become greener, healthier, and use more technology.
Also, they want as personalized and authentic experiences as possible, and they’re ready to spend a lot of money on that if their budget allows it. This is an excellent opportunity for upsell as well as hotels providing a unique customer experience.
No wonder that Millennials are the largest customer segment and the primary focus in the hospitality at the moment, according to the recent Hospitality Trends report by Ernst & Young.
As the purchasing power of Millennials continues to increase, so is the number of hotels that make them their primary target audience. Not only this means a great deal for marketing departments that need to adjust their strategies, but also has profound implications for human resources.
The HR director in a hotel or other business operating in the hospitality industry should understand the current trends and customer preferences to be able to ensure that every employee who interacts with customers can leverage upselling and customer experience (CX) and get more business.
In this article, we’re going to introduce you to the latest trends in the hospitality industry that have implications for HR training and give you the tips you need to train your employees to get more guests for your business.
What You Need to Know about Trends in the Hospitality Industry
The reason why this article began with a focus on Millennials is that this specific demographic group is more likely to buy more expensive deals with hotels. Moreover, they are well known for their love of experiences. For example, it’s a known fact that many Millennials are ready to receive a lower pay in exchange for a chance to travel, especially internationally.
On top of that, their fondness of authenticity and originality translates into higher demand for unique hotels that provide authentic local experiences (this is also why Airbnb has become so popular in recent years: they’ve targeted Millennials seeking authentic local experiences and look where they are now).
Authenticity and experience have been found to be the most important factors that contribute to guest satisfaction in hotels as well, according to the aforementioned report by Ernst & Young.
As you can see, experience and authenticity are valued even more than service and customer value, which suggests that hotels should focus on them to maximize the satisfaction of their guests.
Let’s now talk a bit about how these trends – driven largely by Millennials – are changing the industry.
When choosing a hotel for both work-related trips and vacations, many customers consider a lot of factors that weren’t impactful a decade ago as they are now:
- Eco-building certifications
- Gym options
- Sustainability standards for water and other utilities
- Opportunities to visit local events
- Healthy cuisine
- Meaningful, personalized experience packages.
Clearly, HR directors should know about these trends to understand what customers are looking for. Another reason why they need to have a good understanding of these trends is to train their employees to provide the best customer experience.
Now, let’s move on to how you need to train your employees to take advantage of CX and upsell and bring more customers to your tourism venture.
How to Leverage CX and Upselling of Your Tourism Business
Here are some of the best tips you can use to shape the customer service for your business and ensure that your employees know how to sell.
Train how to Sell Experience
As we already know, experience is the most important factor for many travelers, especially Millennials. In fact, here are some of the findings from the Millennial Brief on Travel and Lodgingthat could help you to shape your strategy:
- 55 percent of Millennials think that traveling is all about adventure and discovery
- 90 percent of Millennials would like to try new things while traveling
- 70 percent of Millennials would like to learn from local communities they visit while traveling.
This means that your hotel has a great opportunity to capitalize on experience-based travel. For example, heritage and historic experiences saw the highest increase in bookings in 2017: +125 percent, according to TripAdvisor. Among them, food tours and cooking classes were the top two categories, each with more than 50 percent growth.
What does this mean for you? As the HR director, you should understand that your employees should try and upsell your customers with amazing experiences that they would have an opportunity to take part in if they stay with you.
If your hotel doesn’t provide experiences like food tours, that’s not a problem. Have someone research the events and other experiences in your area to make sure that if you have an opportunity to provide that additional motivation to book a room in your hotel, you can let the customers know that they can visit them.
Moreover, you can work to get some discounts for local attractions to entice potential customers to stay with you. That’s quite a common technique among well-known hotels and other companies working in the industry; for example, here’s how Booking.com rewards the customers who booked hotel rooms using their service.
As you can see, the recipient of this email – who booked a hotel room via Booking.com – is treated to discounts for 44 well-known attractions in Berlin; for example, they can get 20 percent off a ticket to the world-famous Madame Tussauds Berlin.
This is an excellent example of how a business in the hospitality industry can entice a customer to book as well as improve the reputation. So, your business should also have something like this in store for your customers.
As the HR director, you should train your team to:
- Use customer data to be able to propose meaningful and relevant offers for experiences. For example, ask customers about the purpose of their stay to provide more personalized experiences, study their feedback and reviews, etc.
- Use every appropriate opportunity to share the information about discounts on local experiences (if available); for example, you can share it during the check-in, via a booklet or a brochure, or via an email like the one from Booking.com above. Or you can take this one step further and create your own city or area guide that you distribute to your guests only. Since concise and professional writing is required here, it’s typically recommended to use online writing and proofreading services like Trust My Paper, Grab My Essay, and Studicusto create such guides.
- Tell customers how your hotel is a part of the community and how it can help them to experience authentic local traditions, life, etc. For example, your hotel might be located in a historic area and offer great access to interesting sights
- Offer local tips on how to have exceptionally unique experiences for current customers (you can share information with them via booklets, brochures, emails, in your hotel’s app, etc.) to improve their stay and help them to feel engaged and have that share-worthy experience.
Remember: your main point is to let them have that desired environment and conditions that allow a great experience.
Train how to Combine Upsell and Customer Experience
Now, it’s time to train your personnel to leverage both customer experience and upsell to target experience-seeking customers. There are many benefits that you can offer to them:
Common Social Spaces
Many people who travel for work, especially Millennials, loathe traditional offices and meeting rooms. The last thing they’re interested during travel is sitting through long, boring meetings and presentations. Instead, they want to be engaged in business events that they can discuss on social media.
In fact, the abovementioned Ernst & Young survey found that proposing to use common social spaces was some of the most effective strategies to attract customers, with 45 percent of hospitality sector leaders agreeing.
That’s why famous hotel chains are reinventing their meeting venues to attract more business clients. To provide them with the best possible meeting experience without all the traditional boring stuff, they create their own designs of common social spaces, and often they use rather unorthodox spaces like rooftops.
For example, AccorHotels have their own Space by Ibis project offering flexible meeting places.
Some of the most important features of their business spaces resemble the typical needs of business clients:
- Unlimited free Wi-Fi
- Working lunch
- No interruptions, no kick out time
- Unlimited tea and coffee
- Modern presentation equipment (big screens with features like Apple TV, etc.)
- Choice of setup: banquet, classroom, hollow square, reception, theater, and U-shape.
In order to attract business clients, you should train your staff how to encourage them to review different options your hotel offers (and potentially upgrade to venues with more features) and help them to make a good choice.
Moreover, your employees should also know how to encourage them to order more food and beverages; for example, in addition to water, you can also offer juice, wine, champagne, handmade chocolate, fresh fruit, and other items, depending on the nature of the event.
If a guest booked a standard room that costs $50 per night three days before the check-in, you can make them a special offer to upgrade. For example, you can offer them a bigger room with more features or view (if available) for an additional $20.
This price would feel like a small price for the guest but the advantages they will receive are significant. For example, your employees could say: “For only $20, you’ll get ….” It’s very important to be very specific because some items could be relevant to guests’ story and experience.
However, there are some things to consider before offering your guests to get a better room:
- Your employees, especially those at the front desk, should reassure the guests that their current choice is still good. For example, they could say: “We have you in our basic room, which has all the basic amenities and is very comfortable, but…”
- Induce a sense of urgency. For example, the employee at the front desk could say: “We have you in our basic room, which has all the basic amenities and is very comfortable, but we’ve just had one of the view rooms (suites, etc.) become available this evening…”
- Let them know that they’re saving. For example, if you’re offering a better room to guests, you could say something like “This view room normally runs for $120, but for your date (or tonight, or whenever the guest checks in), I can offer you a great rate of $100.” Here, it’s important to list the amenities and services in that room (a king size bed, a garden view, etc.) to entice the guest to go for it.
- Try to analyze customer data to be able to offer them a room upgrade they can’t resist. For example, learn as much as you can about your customers by collecting their feedback, the data they provide during registration on your website or reviews they left for your hotel or other hotels.
In addition to better rooms, you can offer them special features and services such as flowers, breakfast in bed, or birthday decorations.
So, this means that your staff should be ready and able to provide the guest with more options if it’s possible.
The Bottom Line
So, the conclusion here is that by knowing your guest and offering the right service is the most important thing that can help your tourism venture to increase both customer satisfaction and revenues. We specifically began with the example of Millennials because they are such a distinct group that has specific preferences that you can help them to experience.
As an HR manager in your hospitality business, you should know your target customer very well to be able to train the employees to offer the best possible deals for your guests. For example, by focusing on combining customer experience and upselling, you can create good offers for Millennials and other demographic groups, and get a lot of positive reviews while at it.