How the Hotel Industry Can Connect With Gen Z in the New Normal

Life will go on once the pandemic is over. Of this, I’m certain. But will businesses be able to slowly slip into the same old routines and schedules?

Many of us have adapted to the needs of the current times, secluded ourselves, and done what we can to protect ourselves and others. I believe this pandemic has enabled us to see the world through a different lens — one we can hardly forget. At the same time, however, technological advancements seem to have picked up pace during the pandemic. While some members of older generations might have struggled to keep up, for Generation Z — or anyone born after 1996 — this change came more naturally.

So how do you, as a hotelier, appeal to a generation like this? How can you attract them to your business post-pandemic?

In my experience as a marketer that specializes in connecting with Gen Z, members of this group often know exactly what they want and are willing to shell out the money needed to make it happen. Many Gen Zers love to travel and exploring the possibilities this world can offer. As we negotiate our way through the new normal, I believe Gen Z will undoubtedly be one to watch. And with this demographic having more than $140 billion in spending power, they could change the game for the hotel industry.

Embrace technology

Gen Z is comprised of technological natives. For practically their entire lives, they have had access to some of the best advancements technology could offer. Hotels, thus, need to integrate technology into the everyday fabric of the customer journey. As you get started, keep in mind that members of Gen Z value accessibility. I’ve found they’re more likely to lean toward businesses that allow them the freedom to engage with services during and before their stay via an app.

Develop an online presence

This isn’t a generation to take things at face value. When members of Gen Z find are looking for information about a hotel, for example, they’ll likely take their search online. Reviews from traditional media travel bloggers, and even everyday guests can make or break a purchasing decision. A strong omnichannel presence that allows Gen Z consumers to trust the faces behind the brand can thus prove to be incredibly influential. As an industry that greatly suffered during the pandemic, hotels have to come up with innovative ways to retain consumers’ interest and trust to win new guests. So, from my perspective, an online presence has become crucial to excelling in this industry. And in today’s age of rapidly evolving technology, it’s practically unavoidable.

Be authentic in your advertising and marketing

Gen Z loves traveling, but more than that, Gen Zers desire authenticity. You could amass a big following on TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram and still not appeal to Gen Z if your hotel’s brand voice and guest experience don’t match your marketing. To attract this generation of customers, display your ads in more unique and creative ways by leveraging innovative placements and messaging. Showcase unique and authentic attractions, destinations, food and experiences in your advertisements.

I also suggest curating a multiplatform presence. In my experience, you can connect with this generation through one-of-a-kind TikToks, Instagram reels, and Snapchat videos. Brands and properties should not only create content around trends and culture but also integrate themselves within it. Gen Z expects authenticity, and an ad campaign they can simply “relate to” won’t always generate the desired results. Make them part of the campaign — make them part of your community.

Elevate the guest experience

With so many competitors in the industry, there’s one thing that can set you apart from all the others: the guest experience. Gen Z is an experiential generation, which means members of this group often place more value on experiences than material things. In other words, Gen Zers would likely be willing to pay more for a property or resort that provides an enriching experience and better hospitality than simple upgraded amenities that come without personality.

One way to hold this generation’s attention is to provide them with exemplary service. As Gen Z is familiar with technology, hotels can come up with ways to establish direct lines of communication with them. Speed, convenience, and personality are a recipe for successful communication with Gen Z guests. The more accessible you are, the more appealing and authentic you become.

Furthermore, keep in mind that Gen Zers are incredibly individualistic, and in my experience, they often appreciate it when a brand makes an effort to understand its guests and treat them as individuals. I’ve found this group will also not hesitate to communicate if their expectations aren’t met, so be prepared to have a spotlight on all your blind spots. The upside is that I’ve also found many Gen Zers are generous with praise, reviews, and advocacy.

In other words, provide members of this demographic with exemplary customer service, make them feel valued, encourage their feedback, and take on board their ideas. As a result, you’ll likely find they become loyal guests to your brand.

The Takeaway

Gen Z forms a huge part of the consumer population. They have robust buying power that’s bound to increase once the new normal sets in. By making a few minor — but essential changes — to their policies and services, hoteliers can stay on top of their game and win the next generation over as loyal guests.

Once the pandemic ends, I believe Gen Zers are bound to catch the first flight that promises them an unforgettable experience. The question is: Will you rise to the occasion?