Paula Fay Evans, senior associate – Interior Design, Godwin Austen Johnson on designing for millennials
Millennials have long been considered a coveted demographic for many sectors. With their disposable income, sophisticated tastes and sense of adventure, it is no surprise, then, that hospitality design is evolving to cater to the needs of this generation of consumers.
These young adults have a different outlook on life and their needs are different to that of the hotel guest of ten years ago. This is largely due to technological advances but also due, in part, to a shift in priorities in this new age.
By 2020 millennials will represent the largest adult generation outnumbering Baby Boomers and by 2025 they’re predicted to comprise three-quarters of the global workforce with a global spending power greater than any other generation to date*. Clients understand this and know their hotels must appeal to this audience in order to ensure their businesses thrive.
Sites such as Airbnb, which are becoming increasingly popular for accommodation booking, demonstrate how today’s guests are now preferring a more residential feel when it comes to their accommodation choosing options that allow them to fully embrace the local experience. This factor also plays a role in the design considerations within the hospitality industry. A hotel is no longer seen as just a place to sleep and the millennial traveller is highly demanding in what they want from a hotel stay.
But what does this all mean in terms of hotel design considerations and its evolvement?
Reports suggest that there are increasing instances of solo travellers but this doesn’t necessarily mean that people want to be alone all the time. Social spaces are key to creating the right atmosphere for a hotel and this is especially prevalent when it comes to public spaces. A guest’s first impression of a hotel is, more often than not, the lobby and so it is important that it, not only reflects the identity of the hotel but, also provides a warm, distinctive and memorable space.
No longer a waiting area for guests to check in and out hotel lobbies are being used more and more by the public as a casual meeting place for informal business meetings, interviews or just a place to work away from the office. This makes connectivity crucial, every seating cluster needs to consider connectivity for its users preferably with a USB charge outlet. This could be through the use of smart furniture or simply by considering how to integrate the power into the millwork. Guests are now seeking a highly streamlined experience powered by technology, so considering the latest technology such as the self check-in counters or the use of smart phone key card access into the design is important.
This area should be a multifunctional one with creative space segmentation and flexible furniture arrangements designed to create an open and welcoming social or business environment for socialising, working or networking with colleagues.
In addition, this generation is more environmentally conscious and, while they want a comfortable stay, they also like to know that this has been considered in the design. We do, of course, follow the requirements of Breeam, Leed, Green building or Estidama, but there is a need to take this to the next level doing more than just what is required.
Millennials have a greater desire to be recognised as individuals and this is no different when it comes to travel. Hotels are now looking at ways in which they can provide a personalised experience for their guests to enhance the customer service experience. Virgin hotels, for example, are using mobile technology to create a platform that allow guests to customise their experience using their device. This has clever features such as adjusting the room temperature, streaming content onto the hotel TV and making dining reservations. Guests can even choose what they have in their minibar, and pre-order a drink to be ready for their arrival. With this level of personalisation already out there other hotels are looking at how they can take this to the next level with some looking to offer the guest the option of which room they stay in. This is much more in line with the boutique hotel feel with an array of room types with different looks or concepts on offer.
The millennial traveller wants to feel like a local and they seek a more relaxed environment, a home away from home. As a result we are seeing an increase in the boutique hotel feeling being taken into large hotel establishments providing a less rigid approach to hotel design that is less serious and more about providing a unique experience. And with 87% of Millennials using social media such as Facebook or Instagram for travel inspiration and a whopping 97% posting on social networks during their vacation, creating Instagrammable spaces is now a key criteria in our project briefings.
Seeing such a huge technological shift in the last ten years it will be interesting to see how this evolves further for the next generations to come and how this further impacts hospitality design.