Millennials are well known for many things: They prefer to text instead of picking up the phone. They desire a more flexible work schedule. And they’ll give you a blank stare if you mention your Rolodex. In all seriousness, Millennials are not only changing business culture, but their attitudes, preferences and characteristics are having a significant impact on the hospitality industry.
In order to attract Millennials as clients as customers or employees in the hospitality sector, what changes do those in the industry need to take to embrace this cultural shift and keep business thriving? There are many ways the hospitality industry can adapt or adjust how it operates, in order to appeal to a new generation that will dominate the workforce — and the leisure market — in the decades to come.
Millennials vs Gen Xers and Baby Boomers
Currently, one in three American workers are Millennials, or someone born between 1982 and 2002. Millennials make up the largest generation since the Baby Boomers. It’s estimated that by 2020, Millennials will account for nearly 46 percent of the active workforce.
Compared to previous generations like Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, Millennials view career advancement differently. Instead of looking to grow in their current role or position, roughly 60 percent of Millennials are actively on the lookout for a new job. Millennials strongly value “engagement” in both their job and the company they work for. Employees in their 20s and 30s also differ from older generations in a few key ways:
- Millennials place high value on their purpose at work, rather than their paycheck.
- Compared to previous generations, Millennials are more likely to pursue career development over job satisfaction.
- Millennials like to be encouraged at work and want their superiors to act more like a coach — and less like a boss.
- Millennials are more inclined to cut down the barrier between their work lives and personal lives.
For companies in the hospitality arena, it’s important to look at ways to modify the work environment in order to attract more Millennial employees to the team. How would your business rank on an employee “engagement” scale? What programs have you implemented — if any — that make younger workers feel as though the company has a vested interest in their long-term growth and development?
Making the Hospitality Industry More ‘Millennial-Friendly’
In addition to understanding how Millennials differ from previous generations, there are many other ways a hospitality business can make its workplace more Millennial-friendly.
Embrace technology and social media — Younger generations not only enjoy using social media to keep in touch with friends and family, they often use it as a primary mode of communication. Job openings should always be posted on Facebook and Twitter. Not having an up-to-date website makes your company look out of touch with the modern era. To Millennials, rules about not using Facebook and Twitter during work hours also seems like an outdated notion.
Instead, brainstorm ways your company can make technology and social media an integral part of your business. Because they are so tech-savvy, Millennials often have many ideas as to how a company can improve its own brand presence across multiple social media platforms.
Promote loyalty and collaboration — Part of the reason Millennials are always on the lookout for a new job is that they feel less allegiance to the company they currently work for. Remember, this is the generation that experienced the economic recession of 2008. For some Millennials, their parents were laid off during this period, or they had difficulty finding a job after college.
In order to counteract this, businesses in the hospitality industry need to place a stronger emphasis on company loyalty and collaboration. As kids, many Millennials participated in teams and clubs and still like working in groups to achieve a common goal.
Offer flexibility and opportunities for advancement — Sitting at a desk from 9 to 5 is not a Millennial’s idea of a dream job. People in their 20s and 30s are used to working from their laptops at home and checking email from their smartphones. Millennials strongly prefer the option of a flexible work schedule and see it as a way to create a better work-life balance overall.
Millennials are also not interested in spending decades trying to climb the corporate ladder. Hospitality business that offer more opportunities for advancement have an easier time retaining and appealing to younger workers who are hungry to achieve success early in their careers.
Pay Attention to How Millennials Like to Travel, Shop and Spend
Along with enticing more Millennial workers, the hospitality industry also needs to look at how to attract young people and future generations as customers and clients. Compared to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, Millennials experience slightly less engagement with the brands, products and companies they spend their money on. The brand engagement rate for Millennials hovers at about 20 percent, whereas for older generations this percentage is nearly 30 percent.
As Millennials start to command the workforce, how they spend their money will also start to have a big impact on the leisure market, including restaurants and hotels. Currently, Millennial travelers make up one-third of the world’s hotel guests. Compared to previous generations, Millennials prefer to spend less on travel and are more inclined to take trips or vacations spontaneously.
When traveling, Millennials love to explore local culture. They value the stories they can tell about their trip more than a physical souvenir and they want every vacation to feel like a personalized experience. Millennials are also attracted to travel deals and promotions and prefer easy access to technology.
The biggest difference between Millennials and older generations is the way they interact with social media while traveling. Millennials love to post about their trip on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter while it’s happening. People in their 20s and 30s also often base their travel decisions on posts they saw from their peers on social media. Additionally, Millennials are more likely to check reviews on websites like TripAdvisor before booking a vacation.
Turning Entry-Level Millennials into Future Leaders
In the hospitality industry, Millennials are often viewed as the younger workforce set to replace both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. However, Millennials also have the potential to lead the hospitality sector for many decades to come. Many members of the Millennial generation are ambitious, goal-oriented individuals who pride themselves on discovering how to do things better, faster and more efficiently. At companies with a strong focus on engagement, Millennials do well in leadership positions and feel motivated when working on a team.
At Vail Centre, there are multiple certificate programs designed for stimulating and propelling young workers and Millennials into successful leaders by providing them with much-needed tools, skills and resources for today’s business world. Taught by esteemed professors from Cornell University, Vail Centre’s upcoming Essential Skills for Leadership in Hospitality course will help employees understand themselves as leaders and gain valuable insight into the hospitality management field.
From May 7 -10, Vail Centre will host Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration for a three-day certification program that will cover topics related to training an engaged workforce in the hospitality industry, understanding emerging trends in destination hospitality and future successful business practices. Attendees can register for the Essential Skills for Leadership in Hospitality course by signing up here or by contacting Todd Wallis at [email protected].