How Millennials Are Changing the Way Hotels Cater to Travelers

Hotels are targeting millennials. Here’s what this means, and how the 18- to 34-year-old set are forcing the hospitality industry to redefine itself.

It may be hard to believe, but millennials now make up nearly half of all hotel guests, according to some estimates. And there’s no denying that hotels have taken notice. Major chains like Hilton and Marriott are adapting to the demands of the technology-dependent, lifestyle-centered 18- to 34-year-old set, with new offerings centered on the needs of younger travelers. Here’s what this means, and how millennials are forcing the hospitality industry to redefine what it means to be a hotel.

Millennials aren’t just looking for a cheap place to sleep. Sure, they want inexpensive lodging, but they also want to stay somewhere that has a distinct personality and offers common areas for socializing and doing work. Hotel room desks aren’t important—shared workspaces are. Until recently this has meant choosing hostels or Airbnb’s over hotels, but now hotels are making some changes, too.

RELATED: The Future of Travel is in Millennial’s Hands

Marriott plans to add 150 properties to its new lifestyle brand,Moxy Hotels, which does away with the corporate feel of many hotels and gives each property a modern and unique design. Guests can relax in chic common areas, enjoy state-of-the art computers, listen to music, and mingle in cafeteria-style eateries that are loaded with snacks. Moxy Hotels will even offer mobile-check-in.

To help connect young travelers with local culture, and with each another, Marriott’s Residence Inns are now hosting weekly theme nights, called The Mix. Some events include dessert samplings, live music in the lobbies, local food trucks, and fire pit nights. Nothing screams “millennials” like food trucks and fire pits, am I right?

Hilton’s new brand, Canopy, is also getting in on the “cool amenities” game to appeal to younger travelers. Guests can ride bicycles or take passes to nearby fitness centers; engage in neighborhood art and music programs; attend local wine, beer, and spirit tastings; and can also expect a welcome gift from a local bakery upon arrival.

Richard Branson’s new brand, Virgin Hotels, targets millennials by offering money-saving perks. Not only does it offer free happy hours every night from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., Virgin properties are now stocking minibars with items that people can actually afford (the days when regular-sized soda cans cost $1.00 are back!). Early check-ins, check-outs, and last-minute cancellations are also free.

Other brands, such as AC Hotels (by Marriott), Radisson Red, and Citizen M, are also opening properties that will cater specifically to the millennial market.

Expect to see more boutique-style hotels with bright colors, locally inspired designs, and inviting atmospheres crop up in the future.

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Olivia Briggs has worked in the hospitality, tourism, and online travel industries for more than a decade. She has lived in Ireland, traveled throughout Europe, and has been a passionate writer from a very young age. Follow her on Twitter @OliviaOlileibri

By Olivia Briggs

Nothing excites Assistant Editor Olivia Briggs quite like traveling to new destinations. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

Briggs joined SmarterTravel in 2012 and became a member of the editorial team in 2015. She has lived in Ireland and has worked in the hospitality, tourism, and online travel industries for more than a decade. She loves scoping out new hotels, promoting unfamiliar destinations, and writing about niche travel topics.

Her stories have also appeared online on USA Today, The Huffington Post, TripAdvisor, Jetsetter, Oyster, Savoteur, and AirfareWatchdog.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "The Baggallini Zipper Cross-Body Travel Bag. This is a great travel bag because it's small, compact, has many compartments, and can be worn across your body for added security."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Snowboarding through the Alps and staying in a chalet overlooking the mountains."

Travel Motto: "Travel more; it awakens your soul."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window seat."

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