Capturing the Millennial Market: Driving Direct Bookings From Today’s Travellers
If you’re over the age of 35, talking to a young person nowadays can be like trying to converse with an alien. Every older generation seems to say that of the younger generation, of course; but with the digital technology boom of the last few years – and the fact that ‘millennials’ are so up to speed on the appropriate terminology as well as all the technology – their approach to the world can seem, well, other-worldly to others.
However, there is something young people like to do just as much their older counterparts; that is, booking a room in a hotel for some time away from home. The difference here is that they’re increasingly conducting the entire process online and via the latest digital innovations. And that means that, as a hotelier, you have to get up to speed and keep up with this key group in order to connect, interact and do business with them. But how? Here are four key areas to consider…
Embrace the Internet
The vast majority of young people (that is, 16-34-year-olds) are online every single day of the year; in fact, as many as 90% of them are. To reach them you need to be properly active online by establishing a solid Internet presence. For this, you need to focus on two fundamental things. First, you must have a strong, responsive website; modern and dynamic design-wise, it should list your hotel’s amenities, contain high-quality imagery and reflect the property’s personality. And second, there’s social media. Social platforms are simply a terrific opportunity to connect with this target audience on its home turf, while enabling instant customer service and feedback and the chance to reach more and more of them as they share your content and spread awareness of your brand.
Organic search is awesome
Research suggests that, when they’re interested in buying something, most of today’s young people (55%) do their research online; more specifically, they rely on search engines and the vast majority of the time that means Google’s search pages. If you’re a hotelier, you simply have to bend to their behaviour here. But how? By investing time and energy in search engine optimisation (SEO). Put simply, SEO revolves around using Google-accepted strategies to boost your site’s ranking on its search pages.
To pull this off, the tried and tested technique is by filling several of your site’s pages with informed and well-written content that features keywords – phrases relevant to your hotel business that will match the ‘search words’ people type in to Google, thus showing up in search and leading them to your site. Sure, it sounds pretty simple explained like that, but in practice it’s obviously more complex and time-consuming. In which case, you’ll likely find it best to turn to a digital marketing specialist like Digital Hotelier for this work – certainly if you want to harness the power of SEO to direct potential customers to your hotel booking engine for website.
It’s all going mobile
Last autumn the amount of time spent accessing the Internet via handheld devices overtook that spent doing so on desktop (PCs) for the first time. And it’s a trend that’s not going to reverse any time soon. Smartphones and tablets aren’t the future when it comes to online engagement with consumers – especially the oh-so tech savvy millennial demographic – they’re the present. It’s that simple. To that end then, it’s absolutely crucial your website, if it isn’t already, is mobile-optimised; that means ensuring it can be accessed and functions and appears equally as well on mobile as it does on desktop. So much so, in fact, that Google is starting to penalise non-optimised sites in its search ranking (you can’t afford for that to happen!).
The power of video
Finally, let’s not beat around the bush here; online video is a huge deal to millennials – the statistics are pretty staggering. At least one in every four of them access Youtube on a daily basis and two in every 10 claim they find the site (and its content) more interesting and relevant to them than TV. Yes, really! No wonder video’s seen as incredibly ‘viral’ then. It’s a very powerful tool when harnessed smartly to capture the attention and imagination of young consumers; its immersiveness yet brevity – and repeatability – makes for an unbeatable combination.
Moreover, clever marketing bods have coined the phrase ‘micro moments’ for the brief instances when consumers are successfully engaged by modern marketing and research suggests that video is an incredibly reliable source of them. Google UK’s own stats claim that – remarkably – when people are thinking of taking a trip, 65% of them are using video; while 63% are doing so as they decide on their accommodation. In short, if you’re not including video in your online marketing mix – on your site and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter et al) – then you simply must start right now!