By India Dowley

In an era marked by dynamic shifts in consumer behaviour, Gen Z has emerged as a significant force in reshaping the hospitality landscape. With an obsession for all things tech and a strong eco-conscience, this generation has unique preferences that require forward-thinking approaches to capture their attention and loyalty. Understanding Gen Z's distinctive attributes and aligning your hotel with their values can unlock new avenues of connection and position you as a brand of tomorrow.

Here, we explore the intersections of sustainability, authenticity, social media engagement, wellness and more, unveiling how you can effectively attract and engage this influential generation.

Care for people and planet

A paramount concern for Gen Z is sustainability. With climate change topping their priority list, 73% of the generation is willing to pay extra for eco-conscious products. The emphasis on sustainability presents a critical opportunity for you to align with Gen Z's values. Implementing environmentally responsible practices, such as reducing plastic usage, sourcing local foods, embracing energy efficiency, installing solar panels and engaging with the local community resonates deeply with this socially conscious lot. For more on how to turn your hotel into a sustainable haven, read our article here.

Reimagine well-being

Traditionally, "wellness" might have implied "spa" to hotel-goers, but Gen Z has redefined it as holistic well-being. This generation places greater emphasis on emotional and mental health with avoiding “burnout” at the forefront of their minds. For them, wellness goes beyond physical fitness; it’s self-care, emotional balance and overall health. Equinox Hotels' comprehensive wellness approach focusing on sleep, nutrition and self-care captivates this audience, as does Hyatt's Zero Proof, Zero Judgment initiative, a sobriety-themed programme. 

Craft a unique journey

Gen Z's travel preferences transcend conventional sightseeing as they seek transformative moments that enrich their identities – be it foodie experiences or culturally immersive journeys – and translate to shareable moments. Hotels that offer local intel such as personalised city guides, workshops and tours successfully cater to Gen Z's quest for interactive encounters. 

Prioritise authentic experiences

Authenticity extends beyond experiences; it encompasses brand transparency. Leveraging user-generated content and collaborating with trusted influencers enhances authenticity. However, careful selection of influencers is essential, ensuring alignment between the influencer's reputation and your target audience.

Forge genuine connections

Gen Z loves a brand that reflects its values and fosters a sense of belonging. Hotels that effectively bridge the gap between digital interactions and face-to-face engagement cultivate profound connections. Brands that prioritise personalised engagement and facilitate self-expression resonate with this generation. Capitalise on the social commerce trend by offering interactive experiences and gamified discounts.

Embrace the digital frontier

Gen Z has never known a world without the internet, positioning them as digital natives, and the rise of workation trips underscores the need for high-speed Wi-Fi and coworking spaces. Despite their online adeptness, however, many Gen Z members actually prefer in-person communication, challenging the notion of their being solely reliant on digital platforms. The trend of digital detox in which hotels provide spaces for relaxation, introspection and meaningful connections, also aligns with their outlook.

Harness the power of reviews

Gen Z's reliance on product reviews before making purchasing decisions extends to travel choices, so featuring customer reviews on websites and social media platforms is crucial. Social media is a pivotal discovery channel for Gen Z, particularly Instagram. Be sure to capitalise on this by maintaining an active presence online, showcasing brand personality and engaging users through visual content. 

Appeal to budget-conscious travellers

Over 80% of Gen Z travellers prioritise budget, demanding flexibility and exclusivity at reasonable prices. Be sure to design loyalty programmes that resonate with their preferences, offering features like free cancellations and off-season/midweek discounts.

Seize mobile-friendly opportunities

Given Gen Z's significant smartphone usage, mobile-friendliness is crucial to hotels. A mobile-optimised website and online booking engine are imperative to accommodate mobile-centric behaviour. By ensuring a seamless mobile experience, you’ll enhance user engagement by offering a slick experience.

Like this? Check out our guide to Catering to Today's Solo Travellers: A Hotelier's Handbook.

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