The sea change taking place in luxury hotel marketing is being driven by Millennials as they redefine what the parameters of luxury means to them. First-class accommodations and amenities are just the beginning of this new-style luxury that Millennials crave. Hotels are compelled to create and offer extras including life-fulfilling experiences, adventure, and even educational enrichment – think cooking or wine courses.
According to a recent American Express survey, over 72 per cent of respondents said they would rather spend money on experiences than things. That is a huge shift in buying patterns.
The Millennial generation is, therefore, highly experiential — and loves to travel. They might live in a small apartment in New York or San Francisco, but they will save and take that epic trip. Quality and time off are top priorities, so they are willing to splurge on luxury.
First and foremost is an understanding of who comprises this puzzling and fast moving audience and how to market to them. Millennials (those born between 1981-1997) are the fastest growing customer segment in the hospitality industry, and they are expected to represent 50 per cent of all travelers by 2025.
Luxury hotel marketing has endured massive changes in the past few years in terms of how best to conduct outreach to the fully engaged Millennial market. The crucial social media platforms continue to determine how they research, engage and ultimately sell to these tough customers. Though “traditional” marketing is still intrinsic to the mix, such as basic travel PR, there has been a major shift in focus towards digital engagement.
Strong social media PR is key and so are authority sites
With the rise of Millennial consumers, sales and marketing efforts require strong emphasis on empathy and personal customer connection. Social media is essential for this target demographic and agencies must be able to launch and sustain campaigns for clients geared to this and other market segments. An ongoing strategic campaign is essential that posts and interacts frequently. All of this builds loyalty and community, which is what you need in your marketing wheelhouse.
Targeted special interest groups of the Millennial crowd include, foodies, LGBT, and adventure travelers – all of which are seeking novel experiences tailored specifically to their interests. Food is a passion for this group of untold proportions. Your property has to have originality in its offerings for both food and beverage. They are big on craft cocktails so let your creative juices flow – pun intended!
Millennials get much of their news online, through blogs and whatever pops up when they are surfing the internet and especially Facebook. In addition, they pay attention to mainstream top tier media like Conde Nast Traveler, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and The New York Times. Those carry tremendous influence. The stories that appear online from such outlets are highly valued by Google, and indexed at the top of a search. They carry weight; hence their name “authority sites,” and the backlinks are invaluable. A knowledgeable PR firm knows how to achieve those with their close contacts.
Many of the traditional sites like NYT.com or WSJ.com also have active readers who comment online, gaining interaction. This also drives you up the listings and garners the young crowd. Savvy people in there 20s and 30s are reading these outlets, because they are in the business world and following trends. So a comprehensive PR campaign today should include both traditional and social media.
Instagram and Pinterest are tops: Juicy images are key
In the luxury arena, juicy images for Instagram and Pinterest are vital. Millennials are big on these social media platforms, so it’s essential to have a good, active presence there. And your marketing and PR departments have to stay on top of the pinning and sharing to get into the conversation.
Stay connected with Millennials – they are both today’s target and the future!
By Lorraine Abelow
Lorraine has had a 30 year, award-winning, boutique travel PR firm in New York City and is at the forefront of trends affecting traditional and digital media. Her firm has represented such blue-chip names as Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels, as well as boutique properties across the globe and island destinations including St Barth’s and Necker. The agency’s affordable hotel PR and digital campaigns are designed to move the needle regularly gaining eye-catching feature exposure in such top outlets as The New York Times, Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. It’s the long-standing relationships the Abelow PR team has with high-level editors that insures coverage in A list media in every campaign. Coverage in influential blogs and social media campaigns round out Abelow PR’s expertise. Lorraine serves as an honorary judge for the Hotels Sales and Marketing International Organization, from which she has won awards for her outstanding achievement over her illustrious career. For more information about this boutique New York City PR firm visit www.AbelowPR.com. You can contact her at Lorraine@AbelowPR.com or 203-226-9247.