EN FR ES

Gen Z: The Next Generation of Hotel Guests and How to Win Them Over

A group of three young Gen Z friends on social media

Born between approximately 1996 and 2012, Gen Z is more than comfortable with the latest technology. In fact, they’ve never experienced life without the internet. Gen Z is both socially conscious and sociable, whether or not they’re online. According to a Stanford survey, most Gen Z actually prefer in-person communication, so don’t neglect those smiling faces at the front desk. 

Getting to Know Generation Z 

Gen Z favors collaboration over hierarchy, and they have a rebellious streak they’re putting to good use advocating for the causes they care about, such as equality and the climate crisis. Forty-three percent believe that their online conversations can change things, compared with 30 percent for other generations. 

And they know what they’re talking about. They’re turning out to be the most well-educated generation in the United States. Fifty-nine percent of Gen Z aged 18-20 attended college in 2017, compared to 53 percent of Millennials in 2002 and 44 percent of Generation X in 1986. 

Gen Z in the United States is also more diverse than previous generations. As of 2018, 48 percent of that generation belong to racial or ethnic minorities. 

The oldest of Gen Z have now grown up and stepped into their first jobs, which means they have their own income. They also have a voice in how their families spend money and help shape $600 billion of that spending. 

Luckily for hotels, this generation plans to travel. Thirty-nine percent of Gen Z ages 16-24 would like to visit at least three continents in the next decade, and 65% believe seeing the world is the best way to use their money.

Here’s how to bring these globetrotting young people to your hotel. 

Sustainability

Fighting climate change is the number one issue for Gen Z in the United States, and 73% of that generation are fine with paying more for environmentally responsible goods. This generation knows what it’s like not to be able to play outside because of wild-fire smoke. 

Try these simple suggestions:

  1. Cut your plastic use. Use a shampoo dispenser instead of those little bottles and digital room keys instead of cards. 
  2. Try to source your food locally. You can also market this as part of what makes your destination (and property) unique. You can’t get a stroopwafel from just anywhere. 
  3. Use good insulation and triple-glazed windows to keep heat in. The average American hotel room’s energy use costs $2,196 every year. Multiply by 30 or so rooms, and it comes to $65,880. You could pay a new staff member with that! 
  4. Install solar panels and use energy-efficient light bulbs. 

Authenticity 

Gen Z wants to live like locals when they travel; crowds of fellow tourists are not their favorite thing. This is where your concierge’s area knowledge comes in; they can recommend somewhere off the beaten path. Thirty-seven percent of Gen Z would even like to volunteer on their vacations, so they have the chance to interact with the locals. 

But authenticity is more than the experiences you can offer. It means being transparent as a brand. Eighty-three percent of Gen Z do not trust business intentions, so make the most of user-generated content, and consider partnering with influencers—more than 50 percent of American Gen Z do trust those. 

However, it pays to do your research before signing on the dotted line. Just because Gen Z trusts influencers doesn’t mean they’ll trust your influencer. They’re still on the lookout for authenticity or lack thereof. Know your influencer’s reputation and choose one whose interests match your target audience. An influencer who focuses on mobile camping safaris may not be the best bet for a hotel in New York. 

Reviews Matter

Ninety-six percent of Gen Z usually browse product reviews before purchasing, so make sure you have those reviews ready to go on your website and social media. Our recent website redesign for Breezy Palms Resort features a selection of customer reviews on the homepage. They’re at the bottom, so they don’t get in the way of calls to action like the booking engine, but customers can still find them easily. 

You can also take smaller quotes from reviews and make them into visual posts for your property’s social media. Use a short phrase, a bold background color, a simple image, and you’re done. The less complicated you make it the better. Gen Z may love Instagram (see below), but they have an eight-second attention span. If you have to squint to read your post, it won’t work well. 

Forty-three percent of Gen Z are willing to write reviews—so ask! You can easily turn that Instagram graphic into a request for reviews. Put direct links to your preferred review channels in your website, social media, and post-stay messaging. 

Social Media

Eighty-five percent of Gen Z find new products through social media. Instagram is especially big with Gen Z consumers—41 percent prefer it for following brands. This is a 25 percentage point increase over the next most popular platform, Facebook, at 16 percent. To market to this generation, you’ll need to figure out what a reel is. 

Your Instagram works best if it is connected to your other social media accounts and uses the same profile picture so that your brand’s look and feel is consistent. Post as often as you can while still offering quality content. Users can tell when your posts don’t provide value. 

Instagram has a more informal tone than other social media networks. This is the place to put those goofy pictures from your holiday party. Users want to get to know you. 

BTW, an Instagram reel is a short video post where you can unleash your brand’s personality and creativity with added music, voiceovers and special effects. 

TikTok is another important channel for reaching Gen Z with half of its users under 30. This channel showcases 15-second videos, which appear in users’ personalized “For You” pages. The algorithm decides which videos to show based on viewers’ interests, not the accounts they follow. This means that you can have a video go viral even if you don’t have many followers yet. 

TikTok posts and ads should be visually appealing, creative, and authentic to the platform. What works for a TV paper towel commercial will stick out like a sore thumb on TikTok. Consider partnering with influencers here as well, they already have an engaged audience and they know what they’re doing. Read our recent article, TikTok Tactics for Hotels, for more ideas. 

Workations

Seventy-six percent of Gen Z take workation trips, so be ready with Wi-Fi, coworking spaces, and plenty of complimentary dark roast. 

Not every workationer needs to stay the night. Invite the locals from nine to five and give them access to your hotel perks. Just because they’re working doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate a poolside mojito or a lunchtime workout at your fitness center. 

And for those of Gen Z still in school, hotels like the La Quinta Resort in Palm Springs even offer remote learning packages. High schoolers can sun themselves by the pool after memorizing their SAT words, while middle graders slurp their complimentary gelato. 

Mobile Friendliness 

Over half of Gen Z use their smartphones for more than five hours a day, and they’re twice as likely to buy on mobile devices as Millennials. You need to have a mobile-friendly website and online booking engine ready for them. 

A mobile-friendly website is easy to read and scroll on a phone and adapts its layout automatically depending on what device it’s being viewed on. To ensure your site is mobile friendly, think mobile first when designing, then add extra features for the computer version. If you do it the other way around, you can end up with a beautiful layout, but one that’s not as easy to use on a smaller screen. Clarity trumps fancy features. 

Budget

Boomers aren’t the only generation hunting for deals. Over 80 percent of American Gen Z said budget was a travel factor, and 93 percent said they search for the best bargain. They know money doesn’t grow on trees. Many of them grew up during the 2008 recession after all…which may also explain why they’re not that trusting of businesses. 

Try winning this generation over with a loyalty program designed to offer flexibility and exclusivity at economy prices. Eighty-five percent of American Gen Z said the ability to cancel for free was somewhat/very important for a hotel loyalty program, and another 72 percent said that exclusive experiences were important, compared to 61% for other generations. 

Gen Z is about to become the largest cohort of consumers; it’s worth your while to market to them. Do this by being transparent, tech savvy, and showing you care about the world you’re leaving them.