Looking for ways to improve revenue and create long-term relationships with guests? When it comes to figuring out what guests want from a hotel, hoteliers need to first and foremost know who those guests are, and then use the top priorities of those target markets to drive decision-making.
In this guide, we’ll go over some of the biggest and most important target market segments for hotels along with expert advice on what each group really wants — and needs. Keep reading to discover some practical suggestions, real-world examples, and tips on how to make your hotel even more appealing to those who stay with you.
What are the three most important expectations of guests in a hotel?
No matter what group you’re catering to, hotel guests young and old will almost always want to see their future hotel stays feature these qualities:
- Clear communication
- Peaceful sleeping environments
According to the 2020 J.D. Power North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, cleanliness and communication ranked among two of the most important factors when it comes to guest expectations. And in 2019's study, sleep was near the top. Put simply: Guests place all three in their top priorities when choosing which hotel to book.
Now that you know what all hotel guests want in general, here’s a closer look at what a handful of different types of hotel guests are looking for when they book.
Discover what guests want from a hotel:
Below, you'll find information about what leading hotel industry experts and researchers think will persuade each target audience to choose your hotel over the competition. But before getting started, keep in mind that this only highlights a few high-level wants and needs of each audience segment. The best way to truly appeal to your guests is to track their satisfaction over time and make regular tweaks to adapt to the ever-changing expectations and preferences of various groups.
What business travelers want from a hotel
Business travelers want their stay to be easy. They don't have time to deal with the minor inconveniences that some other guests might. They're usually either in a hurry to get somewhere or they're trying to use their precious free time to catch up on work or sleep. So when it comes to giving them what they want, hoteliers need to operate on these two keywords: Fluid and functional.
Fluid means making every step of the experience — from booking to checkout — an easy journey. Functional means dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s of all given hotel amenities, especially the ones they need for work.
But remember, work isn’t just about what we do during business hours. It’s also about how we rest and rejuvenate the rest of the time.
Give them what they want:
- 5G. Faster than its predecessor, 5G brings a new area of speed and connectivity to hotels, but it doesn't stop there. According to Hotel Tech Report, “an increase in speed will also help your hotel’s smart thermostats, smart speakers, and smart locks perform better.” It’s a joy for all guests, but especially business travelers, who need to work from their laptops, connect to partners via video chat, and conduct additional research on the fly.
- Transportation. Proximity to major business hubs, city centers, and conference space isn’t something most hotels can add without major construction. But they can expand their transportation options and convenience. In fact, according to a D-EDGE report, 45% of all business travelers enjoy transportation service from a hotel.
- App-based customer service. Hotel apps can simplify the lives of most guests, but certain offerings can make a significant difference in the stay of business travelers. Take the World of Hyatt app, for example, which lets users choose preferred check-in times, choose housekeeping preferences, go directly to their room with a digital key, unwind using curated Headspace meditations, and much more.
What boomers want from a hotel
Although boomers have been known to value possessions over experiences, the hotel industry is seeing a shift towards more active engagement from this segment. From in-person customer service interactions to a craving for more “sight-doing” than sightseeing, boomers' needs are changing with the times.
Give them what they want:
- VIP treatment. Whether it’s VIP social clubs, lounges, or tickets to a show, this target market appreciates it when hotels make them feel appreciated. Loyalty programs (which are quite popular among this group) offer plenty of opportunities to test and advertise offers.
- Luxurious designs. Alan Young, Co-Founder and President of marketing agency Puzzle Partner, says, “Beyond unique and authentic local experiences, baby boomers are also notably interested in luxury travel. Considering their increased budget for travel, this should come as no surprise. Only 57% of boomers say that their budget plays a factor in their trip, and many are prone to booking luxury services including upgraded tour and activity packages. Boomers are responsible for 80% of all luxury travel spending.”
Young goes on to warn: “Despite this desire for luxury, however, it's essential to recognize that baby boomers will still actively seek out the best-perceived deal. According to studies, 95% of baby boomers want to know that they have found the best deal possible before booking their trip.”
The takeaway? Provide as much value for the price as you can.
What millennials want from a hotel
Millennial travelers are the new hot ticket when it comes to hotel recovery, and a big part of that starts with personalization. This is a vital part of any hotel's marketing plan — in fact, back in 2015, American Express Travel reported that 83% of millennials would allow brands to track their habits in exchange for a more customized experience.
But personalization in marketing isn't enough. Hoteliers also need to offer millennials personalized, customized, and unique experiences.
Give them what they want:
- Customizable packages and amenities. Whether it’s picking and choosing from a menu of room upgrades or deciding between resort activities packages, giving millennials plenty of things to choose is always a great idea. Keep in mind, even the smallest things can be customized. For example, the rise of popular beauty products like Function of Beauty offer exciting possibilities for customization, even in the hotel bathroom.
- Immersion in culture. Millennial travel and lifestyle blog Under 30 Experiences has this to say about the hot audience segment: “Millennial travelers aren’t heading to Europe, Southeast Asia and South America to party anymore. Instead, their trips are all about authenticity ... and cultural immersion is the best way to achieve that goal. Recent studies have shown the main goal for millennials when traveling is to experience a new culture. They also ranked sampling the local cuisine as an important part of their travels, too, which is arguably a big part of a country or city’s culture.”
- Mobile-first touchpoints. When it comes to shopping, 50% of 25- to 29-year-olds surveyed by CivicScience say that at least half of their shopping occurs online. Brands like Marriott are already taking advantage of this fact by adding customer service functions to their app. The Bonvoy app includes features such as check-in alerts and texts that let them know when their room is ready — a welcome relief from having to wait in line at the front desk.
What Gen Zers want from a hotel
One of the best ways hoteliers can wow Gen Z is to flex their emotional intelligence. Entreprenuer.com calls it “the future of work” due to cultural shifts from the younger generation plus advancements in both technology and neuroscience. For that reason, it’s safe to say that the future of work will also be the future of commerce and the hotel industry as we know it.
Give them what they want:
- Amazing customer service. “Beyond being a point of differentiation, quality service is actually a revenue driver,” said Senior Digital Content Editor Corris Little in an interview with Hotel Business. “Further, as experience-focused alternative accommodation providers continue to syphon off market share from traditional hotels, the need to understand guest service is more important than ever.”
- Authentic emotional connection. Cultural marketing thought leader and agency Wicked Bionic advises brands to use storytelling, trustworthy information sources, and marketing optimized for both search engines and readers. For hotels, this means swapping high-brow language with straightforward or even laidback copy as well as experiences. Also, consider adding emotional intelligence training to your employee onboarding.
- Trust in the brand. Having grown up in a digital world of misinformation, trolling, and politicized bot comments, it’s no surprise that honesty is big for this segment. In addition to not overexaggerating what your hotel has to offer, property owners and managers can build trust by creating repeatable workflows so that their entire team can produce consistent experiences over time. Hotels can also offer more background information on their efforts to do social good, such as sourcing their linens from factories that don’t exploit workers and detailing how they plan to make hiring even more inclusive for large roles within the company.
- Eco-friendly options. Gen Zers, as well as millennials, care about sustainability. In fact, according to a Forbes study, "the majority of Generation Z (54 percent) state that they are willing to spend an incremental 10 percent or more on sustainable products." In other words, making your hotel eco-friendly — from composting and donating food from your kitchen to installing solar panels and Energy Star-rated heating and cooling systems — can make a big difference when it comes to appealing to this group.
What event attendees want from a hotel
Attracting planners and their attendees is all about making your location count. While there are dozens of ways to appeal to this incredibly important hotel guest type, hoteliers can begin by asking themselves what they can do to infuse their current offerings with things that make their property unlike any other.
Give them what they want:
- Partner with local businesses. Caterers who source from local farms and family-owned shops that supply handmade teas and soaps are both great examples of bringing in small details event attendees will appreciate.
- Offer fresh perspectives. Offer to connect event planners with community leaders who can offer a new point of view to any conference or lecture series.
- Integrate region-specific activities. Offer activities packages to multi-day events such as hiking or skiing in snowy regions or unique experiences like a candlelit ghost tour to create lasting memories.
Of course, these are only a few recommendations to help give event attendees a memorable experience. For more, check out our post on what makes an event, which highlights seven things every hotel management professional should know when it comes to appealing to planners and their attendees.
Now you know what many different types of guests want — and need — from a hotel.
Take the information above and choose which ideas to act on, come up with an execution plan, and compare your KPIs before and after to properly measure impact.
Up next, discover even more ways to provide hotel guests with a memorable customer experience.