Millennials are getting lots of well deserved attention in the hospitality world. However, on the occasion of Mother’s Day some reflection on hospitality from the women who raised them to find that, remarkably, what we want is much the same.
Millennials are defined with some variation as those born between 1980 and 2000 and their buying power is a huge focus of the industry. As Principals in a women owned business we have nine of them between us. While the buying power of the Millennial demographic is huge, the buying power and decisions of the women who nurtured them was and is significant and has influenced the type of consumer they are as young adults. According to travel agent research, 92% of travel decisions are made by women and they are certainly more critical during child rearing years. Reflecting on 23 years of child-rearing and travel results in some interesting findings on how much we have in common with our Millennial kids when it comes hotel design that works.
Too Tiny to Take
I remember well a business trip to London when my first child was a newborn. I checked into a boutique hotel and the amazing night sleep I got in a comfortable bed with all daylight blocked out was rejuvenating. From the many valuable design components a hotel can offer, hospitality remains all about making someone comfortable and providing a place to be well rested regardless of your age.
On the Move
Crawl, walk, talk...all action, all the time. The single digit age period is a very hands on time so anything that can make mothering tasks easier is good business. Therefore, it is so great to see the direction that hotels are taking away from bathtub installations in favor of spa type shower head installations and “zen” like bathrooms. This works much better for guests of all ages including the little ones.
Pre-Teen to Teens
This is a crazy period for many reasons I won’t reflect on here, but children begin to want some freedom and anything that hotels can do to provide that in a safe way is welcome. One thing in very limited supply in the hotel market, is intraconnected rooms. When considering design of a hotel room we would love to see more inclusion of connecting rooms as a standard feature. Being able to have your kids in ear shot, but not eyeview all the time, gives them freedom and the adults privacy. It also allows for families with more than two children to share space with the kids split up. Currently connected rooms are a special request and limited in number, but should be strongly considered in the design of new build and renovations making them easily available to use as needed. It is also well suited to young adults as they travel more in groups that want privacy yet still want to be connected more easily for social time.
We read about the importance of high quality WiFi for the Millennial generation. An official statement: It’s important for their mother’s, too. Working professionals or not, staying connected while on property has become a necessity vs. amenity. For better or worse, connected kids and parents are happier and safer, and it’s great to be able to work and stay in touch with your gang on property as they do their own thing.
On Their Own
We are just hitting this stage and hope to continue to travel with our grown children understanding happily that the family grows. Significant others, spouses and grandchildren (yikes) enter the picture. The design feature that matters now more than ever is space to be together. Thankfully, the industry recognizes this as well and the importance of lobby and guestroom “hanging” space where you can be with a group getting work done, socializing or dining is finally being addressed.
Mother Knows Best?
The biggest change over all these years of raising children is technology. We all live very connected lives now, which we didn’t have the option of 23+ years ago. The needs of the Millennials are being heard now, and this is a generation that doesn’t easily settle for not getting what they want. Where we had settled for less, they will find what they want in a hotel, in the services offered, in the properties they select and in the experience it ultimately provides. Taking the cue from our kids, we too use technology to find that unique experience in our travels. As hotel designers we opt to tweak the cookie cutter approach and make each property unique to meet the demands of guests who are more demanding than ever. We appreciate the standards set forth by brands, but also hope that each experience can be slightly different and are happy to see hotel flags working in collaboration with designers and purchasing agents to make the hotel experience more interesting.
Maybe we are not so different from our Millennial children...we want a comfortable bed, dark room for sleeping and light filtering in when we wake, a “spa” like shower environment, and the ability to be connected both in technology and in person. We want to work and be social so we can experience the culture of the area around us and return to a welcoming environment.
Design should always be evolving, it should always be forward thinking and innovative, and it should always be focused on the needs of the end user, the hotel guest. Regardless of a changing world, some of those needs remain constant and valued by all.
Our thoughts and wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day wherever your travels may take you. Enjoy your family and cherish the memories.