17 Apr 2017

The Case for Driving More Millennials to Your Resort

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 83.1 million millennials living in the U.S. today.

Millennials are categorized any person who was born between the years of 1981-1997, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2015, the age range of this group was between 18-34 years old. Taking immigration into account, it’s projected that this generation will peak in 2036 at a whopping 81.1 million people.

As you can see from the data above, the millennial generation is just entering the age of life when they will have the financial means to make traveling decisions on their own. A good portion of them are likely are out of school, in stable jobs, and making an income that allows them to spend money on travel.

As older generation groups continue to age, travel less, and shrink in size, it’s essential that you understand how to effectively target, attract, and sell to this younger, growing group of travelers.

So, how do you do it?

Here are 7 ideas for driving more millennials to your resort:

1. Embrace and Promote Local

Millennials are big supporters of local communities. According to data compiled by FedEx, “some 40% of millennials claim a preference for buying local, even if the goods or services are more expensive than mass-market alternatives.”

Winnie Sun, a contributor for Forbes, sheds further light on this truth about millennials. In an article about millennials and Small Business Saturday, she writes, “This generation likes convenience and supporting local, instant shopping gratification and a homegrown “giving back” experience. Not only do Millennials like to feel a connection to the products they buy, they appreciate a personalized shopping experience and customized products.”

To attract more millennials to your resort, show the dedication and support you have for your local community by:

  • Incorporating products and services from other local businesses into your resorts. Offer snacks and products to guests made by local chefs and retailers. Decorate your resort with art created by local artists.
  • Sponsoring community events. Get involved with your community. Become a sponsor of popular events that your guests may see or participate in while they’re staying with you (or trying to find a place to stay). Focus on events that millennials would care about most.
  • Becoming an expert on all things local. Be a resource for guests. Help them understand your involvement in the community by answering any questions they have about the area, or by offering recommendations about local restaurants, venues, and activities.
  • Creating exclusive packages for guests that feature other local businesses. Partner with other businesses and attractions to build customized theme-based packages that would entice millennials to stay with you.

The Takeaway: Use local support to help persuade millennial travelers they should stay at a resort like yours rather than one of the other generic or ‘big name’ hotels in the area.

2. Engage Authentically on Social Media

Millennials are extremely active on social media—many people from this generation grew up using tools like Facebook and Twitter as primary channels for communicating with family and friends.

As a resort manager, you should have a clear social media marketing strategy in place that allows you or your team members to spend time authentically engaging with millennials on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat.

To be clear, you shouldn’t only be using these social media sites as another advertising channel for your resort. You should definitely be advertising on these sites, but it’s more important that you take the time to communicate with people and prove to them that you’re listening.

Millennials don’t want to be sold to on social media sites—they want to build relationships and feel confident that they are communicating with actual human beings.

To attract more millennials to your resort, take the following best practices into account when using social media:

  • Be consistent. If you decide that you’re going to try to connect with guests and travelers using social media sites, make an effort to be consistent. Spend the time and money needed in order to regularly and authentically interact with followers on a daily basis.
  • Be responsive. If interested guests can find you on social media sites, they should be able to reach out to you and get a response from you in a reasonable amount of time. Remember: don’t treat social media like a megaphone. Communicate, listen, and respond.
  • Be human. Help potential guests understand and believe that there are actually real human beings managing your social media accounts. Don’t make them feel like your updates are all automated or outsourced to a marketing agency. Be approachable and real.
  • Be helpful. Again, don’t use social media to sell. Instead, focus on using it as a way to leverage yourself as a resource and provide value to guests and travelers. Answer questions, post helpful or interesting information about your area, and offer useful advice to travelers.

The Takeaway: Use social media sites to build trust with travelers. Help them get to know you before you try to sell to them.

3. Support Causes

Millennials like to work with businesses that support causes. If you’re a property manager looking to attract more millennials, the buzzword you need to know is “corporate social responsibility.” Corporate social responsibility refers to the effort your organization makes to positively impact environmental and social issues.

Corporate social responsibility is important to millennials, as illustrated through these articles on the subject:

Here are some ways you can show millennial travelers that you align with their desire to make the world a better place:

  • Support local nonprofits. Find local nonprofits in your area and work to support them in various ways. For example, your team could donate volunteer hours, or you could commit to donating a certain percentage of your profits to the organization at the end of each quarter.
  • Be environmentally friendly. Work with your staff to keep your resort green. Use energy-saving lighting, post water usage recommendations in showers, donate food to avoid unnecessary waste, and work to keep your carbon footprint as small as possible.
  • Rally behind a specific cause. If there’s a bigger global cause or initiative you’re particularly passionate about, let your guests know what it is and that their reservations help you support it.
  • Make your efforts known. Work messaging about your support into marketing campaigns, your website, and 1:1 conversations with interested travelers who contact you wanting to learn more about your resort.

The Takeaway: Help millennials understand and believe that you’re thinking about the bigger picture, and that you care about what they care about.

4. Connect with Travel Bloggers / Instagram Influencers

Millennials aren’t fully convinced to buy services from companies—or in this case, book reservations with properties—by advertising alone. Instead, they look for real recommendations from their friends, family members, and even complete strangers. Research compiled by Ambassador and Nielsen’s Harris Poll Online shows that, “82% of Americans say they seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase.”

To attract more millennials to your resort, you need to proactively work to get more people talking about their positive experiences while staying at your resort.

One way to do this is by connecting with influential travel bloggers or Instagram influencers and inviting them to stay at your resort. Travel writers and Instagram users with big followings can help get the word out about your resort by creating original, objective content about their stay for their followers.

A word of caution: if you do decide to work with an influencer to write a review or share their experiences while staying at your resort, be ready to not like what you read. It’s important to understand that you aren’t paying these people to write nice things about you—you’re partnering with them and asking them to share their honest feedback. That means you risk the chance of getting a bad review if their experience isn’t positive. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the FTC’s rules on endorsements before partnering with any influencers.

The Takeaway: Work with influencers if you have the budget and know the legal rules—they can help build awareness, solidify your reputation, and connect you to other potential millennial guests.

5. Feature Millennials in Marketing Material

If you want to attract millennials to your resort, you have to convince them that other people like them are already staying with you. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Share photos of other millennial guests on your social media pages. Ask your guests to post photos of their stay and offer discounts on future reservations as an incentive. You can also hire a photographer to work on site during your busy season to capture photos of guests (ask permission from guests ahead of time and get photo releases).
  • Create email marketing and advertising campaigns that use photos of millennial-aged people. Don’t use the same stock photos in every email campaign or advertising campaign you build. Instead, build different variations that include photos of people who fall into the age group you are trying to target.
  • Create custom landing pages on your website that cater specifically to millennials. Create advertisements and email campaigns that target millennials, then send them to a custom landing page that includes photos of people their age, perks they would find attractive (more on that later), and any other information you think would drive them to book a reservation at your resort.

The Takeaway: If you want millennials to book reservations at your resort, make them feel like they would fit right in.

6. Offer The Right Perks

Another way to drive more millennials to book reservations at your resort is by offering special perks and amenities that they specifically might find attractive, based on what you know about their generation. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Uber Credits: Make traveling easy and convenient by surprising guests with free Uber credits at check-in.
  • Free WIFI: Delight guests by eliminating any additional costs associated with using WIFI while they are staying with you.
  • Free Breakfast: Roll out the red carpet and give your millennial guests one amazing free breakfast that they can Instagram and Tweet about to their friends on social media.

The Takeaway: Think about what perks you can offer at your resort that millennials would love, then work to make it happen. If you’re not sure what to offer, ask any guests who fall into this age group for ideas!

7. Create Share-Worthy Experiences

The final tip for attracting more millennials to your resort is to simply create share-worthy experiences for guests. Remember: this group is naturally social—they want to share photos and stories about their stay with their friends and family members, and they want to do it in real-time while they’re still at your resort.

As a resort manager, it’s up to you to create amazing experiences for them to share. To create share-worthy experiences for your guests, focus on the following:

  • Make customer service a priority. Train each member of your team on the importance of being helpful to guests at all times, no matter what role they’re in.
  • Always work to delight customers. Surprise guests with random acts of kindness, little gestures, and special experiences that make them smile.
  • Listen, ask for feedback, follow up. Let guests know that you value their opinions and that you are interested in hearing their feedback.
  • Create intentional spots for guests to create content. Create actual photo opportunity spots around your resort that create opportunities for guests to create content (photos or video) to share with their followers.
  • Remind guests to share. Include little messages around your resort encouraging guests to share photos and videos of their stay on your social media pages. You can even create a unique hashtag for everyone to use when posting updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Takeaway: Make it easy for guests to want to rave about their stay at your resort.

Over to You

What are you doing to drive more millennials to your resort this year? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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Ryan Bailey

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