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Millennials pushing hotels to get up to speed

By MICHELLE GROENKE   |   Oct. 13, 2013 at 5:01 AM   |   Comments

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CHICAGO, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- The social media-savvy of today's 20- and 30-somethings is driving changes at major hotel brands and shaping the way hotels approach their design and develop guest amenities, travel experts say.

Baby boomers are still the top spending age group but millennials, the generation born between 1980 and 1999, are the fastest growing segment for travel spending, Hotels.com said.

A report released earlier this year by The Boston Consulting Group says millennials will become the core customers of airlines, hotels and travel companies in the next five to 10 years as they enter their peak earning, spending and travel years.

The travel industry is actively pursuing millennials to win both their business and their loyalty.

"The window of opportunity for businesses to understand the unique travel approach of this generation and gain its mind share is closing rapidly," Christine Barton, a BCG partner and lead author of the report, said in a release.

Faster is a requirement when it comes to millennials, Hotels.com's latest Hotel Price Index report said. That means they want fast booking, fast check-in, fast WiFi at the hotel and fast response to any customer service needs. If it isn't fast, they'll turn to Twitter, Facebook, Yelp or Tripadvisor to complain.

Hotels.com said need for speed is driving the implementation of check-in kiosks and the hiring of entire teams completely dedicated to real-time customer service responses via social media.

Millennials document their travel experiences virtually non-stop on their smartphones, which can mean free publicity for savvy hoteliers "if they play their cards right and provide the millennials with the amenities they are looking for, such as thoughtfully and artfully designed communal spaces for both work and socializing," the HPI report said.

"Today's millennials are more informed about top travel destinations and stay constantly connected to their networks via mobile," Taylor Cole, travel expert for Hotels.com, told UPI. "The best hotels for millennials are eco-conscious, feature modern amenities, active hotel restaurants and bars, and are in the proximity of nightlife and attractions."

A survey by Hotels.com found that free WiFi, for the second year, is the top in-room hotel amenity desired by travelers. Prior to 2012, free breakfast and free bottled water were the top preferences listed by travelers, Cole said.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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