Technology Blog

Millennials and Gen Z Are Driving a Revolution in Guest Experience

Aruba Employee
Aruba Employee

Four college graduates are planning a fabulous trip to Paris before starting their new jobs. They research what to do and where to stay, and ask their friends—and friends-of-friends—for recommendations. They book their flights and a great place to stayfrom their mobile phones. Once in Paris, most days are spontaneous. They don’t like to book ahead or plan too far in advance.  


For all that spontaneity, they also want great service. They don’t want any frustrations when booking flights and hotels. Once at their destination, they want to be able to check-in quickly and easily. They want to unlock their room doors without having to fumble with card keys. They want to stream their content from their tablet to the in-room TV and use a chatbot to ask the concierge to make recommendations for a fabulous dinner that evening.millenials 2.png



A Diverse Group of Digital Natives

Millennials—people born between 1980 and 2000—are the biggest demographic segment of the largest economy on the planet, according to the Brookings Institute. The number of Millennials will peak in 2018 as the last of the Millennials will reach their 18th birthdays. It’s a generation that’s even larger than the baby boomers, and they wield unprecedented buying power.


Millennials have grown up using technology. They are highly educated, and have no interest in traditional institutions like marriage or home ownership. They prioritize experiences over things. A lot has been written about Millennials, but the reality is that their preferences and perceptions will drive marketing and product direction for the next 20 years.


In a group of 75 million, there’s naturally a lot of diversity to Millennials. Some Millennials are well into adulthood, while the youngest cohort is just entering college. For instance, 52% of Millennials are single, 79% have no children under 18 living with them, and 71% aren’t in college.


There’s also a lot of diversity when it comes to their travel preferences. Millennials have different levels of flexibility or prefer different types of leisure experiences. Younger Millennials who have kids only travel with their children about half of the time. Older Millennials travel with their children about 60% of the time.


And then there’s Gen Z, the group of kids right behind Millennials, who have never known a world without smartphones. These kids have tremendous influence in family vacations and purchases.


Getting to the “Wow”

Millennials want personalized, memorable experiences when they’re away from home.


Millennials love adventure. Younger travelers embrace uncommon and adventurous destinations. Now consider that most hotels have designed their guest experience around what boomers wanted: familiarity, safety and comfort. Providing the same old experience won’t cut it with Millennials. Trips are great opportunities to generate social media likes and shares, and hotels and travel companies need to create experiences worth sharing on social. And remember, if it’s not on Snapchat or Instagram, it didn’t happen.


Millennials need great connectivity. A good Wi-Fi and Internet connection is more important than a comfortable bed and a working shower. Millennials and Gen Z won’t let their Instagram go cold or their Snapchat streaks die. Their healthy appetite for videos and pictures, along with the multiple mobile and wearable devices they bring into the room, can put big pressure on a hotel’s Wi-Fi. 


Millennials want authenticity. Travel should be real. Millennials want friction-free experiences and personalized service, right here, right now. For hotels, that means smartly designed guest rooms, reimagined public spaces, and creative updates around food and beverage. It means a mobile app that handles check-in and room access. It means streaming “Mr. Robot” to the in-room TV as well as using their smartphone to control the temperature, lights and shades.


A Foundation for a Memorable Experience

Millennials judge a hotel brand by the quality of the experience across a broad variety of touchpoints. Brands need to infuse on-demand personalization and authenticity into these channels to attract and retain these tech-savvy, discerning guests – and to generate the positive reviews, social media buzz and word-of-mouth recommendations that are so important today.


Delivering friction-free guest experiences depends on a strong technology foundation. Technology is key, from delivering great connectivity and creating a more homelike experience to wayfinding to push notifications based on location and personal preferences.


Aruba’s hospitality solutions are used by hotel brands spanning from Marriott and Hyatt to Red Planet in Southeast Asia to Hotel Negresco in the Cote d’Azure in France. The Aruba portfolio includes the network infrastructure, policy management, location analytics, micro-location services, simplified network management, and powerful network controls and programmability.


Learn how Aruba’s hospitality solutions enable you to offer a WOW experience for every step of your guests' journey.


Sanjay Garg is a senior marketing manager for global hospitality solutions at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

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