Hotel giants target tech-savvy millennial travelers

Hotel giants target tech-savvy millennial travelers

the latest breed of hotel, rooms are up to one-third smaller than traditional quarters, with furniture that looks fresh from an Ikea showroom.

The work desk is downsized and might double as a nightstand. The Internet speed is super fast. The Wi-Fi is free. Power outlets and USB ports dot the walls, especially near the bed to accommodate binge watching.

The target is the millennial traveler, ages 18 to 34, who likes to stay connected online, eat on the run and commune with other millennials.

Hotel giants, including Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide, are launching brands with names such as Moxy, AC, Edition, CitizenM and Canopy. Even billionaire Sir Richard Branson has a new millennial-oriented chain, dubbed Virgin Hotels.

The Yotel New York employs a one-armed robot to ferry luggage into storage lockers, all behind glass. At the nearby CitizenM hotel, each room comes equipped with a Samsung tablet to control lighting, curtains and other features.

“The new traveling generation has a different DNA than their parents and grandparents,” said Harry Wheeler, a principal at hotel design firm Group One Partners.

Daria Taylor, 26, welcomes the new hotel style. Taylor said she travels regularly for her job as co-founder of a London-based digital entertainment and youth insights agency.

“I think hotels are very slow at adapting to change,” she said. “Many have outdated designs, stuffy communal areas and don’t have basic things like Wi-Fi or automated check-in systems.”

For Katelyn O’Shaughnessy, 28, convenience is a top priority.

“I don’t want to stand in line to check in,” said the founder of a Venice travel start-up who is on the road at least twice a month. “I would rather have mobile check-in so I can get right to my room.”

As for room size, she quipped: “You can put me in a closet; as long as there is Wi-Fi, I’ll be happy.”

Millennials say they don’t want to spend on frills but insist on modern amenities and a location within walking distance of bars, restaurants and other nightlife.

The rates for millennial-oriented hotels typically range from $150 to $200 a night, less than full-service hotels but not as cheap as economy hotels, consultant Reay said.

The minimalist CitizenM boasts on its website that “we sold the hotel cliches and used the money to make your stay cheaper,” with rooms starting at $199 a night.

The 230-room hotel, which opened last year, also houses a 24-hour cafeteria, as well as a full-service coffee and cocktail bar.

Marriott International is launching three hotel brands for millennials in the U.S. Moxy is Marriott’s mid-price boutique hotel that is set to open in eight locations in the U.S., including New York, San Francisco, Seattle and New Orleans, starting as early as next year.

AC is Marriott’s European-style brand that has opened U.S. hotels in New Orleans and Kansas City, Mo., with a third slated to open in Washington, D.C., next month.

Edition is Marriott’s high-end brand that opened its first U.S. hotel in Miami Beach last year, with another scheduled to open in New York later this year.

“They center around social media and technology with an emphasis on style and design,” said Tina Edmundson, Marriott’s global officer for luxury and lifestyle brands.

Montage Hotels & Resorts, based in Laguna Beach, plans to open its own millennial hotel, called Pendry, in San Diego next year. The company describes the new brand as “London hip, New York paced and California healthy.”
Billionaire entrepreneur Branson launched Virgin Hotels last year in Chicago. He has announced plans to open a Virgin Hotel in New York next year, with others under consideration in Los Angeles, San Francisco and several other cities.

The Virgin Hotel in Chicago features rooms with sliding doors that separate the bedroom from the bathroom, hallway and closet. The rooms have mini fridges stocked with snacks at street prices, free high-speed Wi-Fi and a Bluetooth sound system.

Even budget hotel chains are targeting millennials. Red Roof Inn estimates that about 12% of its guests are millennials, up from 9.5% in 2010. To draw more young travelers, Red Roof President Andrew Alexander said, his company is testing outdoor gathering spots with fire pits and picnic areas at hotels in Ohio, Michigan and Florida.

“We want our overall occupancy to outpace our competitors,” he said, “and the millennials will be a big part of that.”


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