Hotels over-focusing on millennials

Once again, a hotel chain is trying too hard to engage the millennial generation.

Marriott’s Moxy Hotels brand is new to the US, opening in New Orleans, San Francisco, Nashville and other locations. These flashy millennial-themed hotels feature smaller guest rooms, an expansive bar scene and plenty of bright, neon lights to draw the attention of young people seeking a nightcap.

For the brand, Marriott has produced a series of YouTube videos called “Do Not Disturb.” In the videos, a YouTube star named Taryn Southern interviews other YouTube stars and minor celebrities while on a bed inside a Moxy hotel room. The idea is to show what it would be like to have a slumber party with a YouTube star.

The series isn’t quite doing its job. The six videos, which began premiering in mid-November, have averaged about 5,000 views each; Southern herself registers 4,000 views in one day.

Marriott is stabbing in a few directions. It’s also increasing the size of the fitness center at its Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile location by 200 percent while adding yoga and Pilates classes. Chicago is the test site for Marriott, which is hoping to renovate fitness centers in other locations. But no matter which direction Marriott is stabbing, it’s not hitting the heart of the hotel problem: Millennials have less money and want a personal and worriless experience. Shiny new hotels with bars and health centers, and YouTube partnerships with Z-List celebrities, won’t help.

TRENDPOST: Large hotel chains, for the most part, still see millennials as digitized zombies who would rather not be comfortable. A recent survey by the Center for Generational Kinetics showed 69 percent of millennials want free snacks and 61 percent want cleanliness in a hotel experience. That’s much more important than if a hotel has a bar with craft cocktails. We’ll see more poorly received viral videos and seizure-inducing lobbies as chains continue to incorrectly read the market.

But we’ll also start to see hotel chains take a page from Airbnb and offer more free goodies to hotel guests. You’ll see more boutique hotels at more affordable price points; they’ll stress comfort and cleanliness over flash and fitness. Those are the hotels that will have the most success with poor millennials.

The risk is turning off non-millennials to these overt changes in the look, feel and experience of staying in a hotel. We will see that backlash soon.

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