Hospitality and the Marketing Pivot to Generation Z
- Posted by Tom Dibble
- On October 29, 2019
Make way, Millennials.
Engaging Generation Z is of growing importance for hotel and resort marketing teams.
While Boomers, Gen X and Millennials still make up the majority of the travel market, Generation Z is set to become the most populous generation in the United States pretty much any moment now, comprised of an estimated 90 million individuals.
As their ranks grow, so does their influence. Some marketers may envision fresh-faced kids when thinking of those born since 1996, but the oldest of this generation are hitting their 20s, integrating into the workforce, and increasingly wielding the power of the purse. In fact, Generation Z is on track to become the largest generation of consumers by 2020.
That consumption includes travel, and Gen Z-ers are hot to trot, with 39% planning to “have visited at least three different continents over the next 10 years” according to recent research from Booking.com. What’s more, two-thirds of those asked ranked travel as a spending priority over dining out, and 58% prioritized travel over technology.
So how can hotel teams position their brand to court this next, great generation of adventurers?
As with all marketing efforts, the key to success is understanding one’s audience, and this generation is more unique than any before it.
Recent research by the Pew Research Center reveals Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet. When asked to rank the values that matter to them, Gen Z respondents in a recent study ranked diversity 13 places higher and inclusion eleven places higher than older generations did.
Successful messaging to this audience, then, must mirror the kind of inclusion and diversity that are themes in their daily lives.
Brands, on the whole, are getting better at speaking to an eclectic audience. Watch a commercial block on TV and your likely to notice a considerably more diverse array of religious, racial and gender representation than a generation ago. Marketers admit, however that those buddy beer ads and pharmaceutical pitches still don’t speak to everyone. In a recent Newscred survey of U.S. marketers, more than 91% agreed with the statement “there is still room for growth in using more diverse images by marketers.”
For the hospitality sphere, the good news is that this distinct gap between the state of marketing and the norms of post-Millennial generations offers space for growth.
When developing long-term strategy for marketing the guest experience, now is the time to take stock of how the hotel is messaging.
How diverse are the visuals? Do they represent a consistent, unforced pattern of inclusion?
Does the messaging reflect the very large, very real generational shift that’s currently taking place?
Keep in mind, Generation Z is a sea of digital natives, those for whom technology and the internet are inseparably woven into nearly every aspect of their lives. To make an authentic connection, brands must make diversity a theme that runs the length and breadth of their marketing touchpoints, from the imagery featured on their websites and social accounts, to the non-profit organizations they select to support, to the influencers they align themselves with.
Gen Z will no doubt fundamentally change travel. As hotel teams reimagine their product to welcome these new guests, how they message must adapt as well.
Fail to reflect the changing face of travel, and risk being viewed as a relic by the coming generation of travelers.
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