The Generation Gap — Accommodating Baby Boomers

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While the needs of the trend-influencing millennial generation seem to be at the top of nearly every hospitality business’s strategy plan, it’s important to remember that a significant portion of your vacationer market falls into another category — namely, Baby Boomers. The force of this generation (typically defined as those born between 1946 and 1964) shouldn’t be trivialized --- they make up a big chunk of your business and the last thing you want to do is cater so much to younger generations that you isolate others. 

According to AARP, 99% of baby boomers will take at least one leisure trip this year, with most travel planned for spring and summer months. The nice thing about boomers and travel is this — they typically vacation longer than millennials, who tend to plan more active weekend getaways than week-long pleasure trips. And since they book longer stays, they expect room accommodations to include certain creature comforts — not simply a sleek, tech-connected space to crash before the next day’s adventure.

What kind of comforts are we talking about? Primarily service-oriented factors and room features (like desks and traditional closets) that deliver a home-inspired ambience and work-style convenience. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:

FREE WI-FI WITH A DECENT BANDWIDTH

The boomer generation may not post their every move on social media, but they do like to have an easy, dependable way to connect to world events, check in with work and even stream Netflix. So, the moral of the story is: basic complimentary Wi-Fi is good — but delivering a larger bandwidth along with that free connectivity is even better. Plus, the millennials will be beaming with streaming happiness.

SUNDAY NEWSPAPER DELIVERY

The newer generations are likely forgetting what print on paper looks like — but mature generations still appreciate what lies “above the fold” in a true-blue, genuine newspaper.  Obviously, conservation is a big movement throughout the world so a daily newspaper is not a necessity — but opening the door on a Sunday morning to a Wall Street Journal or New York Times would probably be a welcome surprise for many of your guests.

FREE DIGITAL ACCESS TO PUBLICATIONS

Yes, we waxed poetic about “real” newspapers just moments ago. But, since baby boomers are no strangers to devices like tablets and smart phones, offering digital access is another way to go that’s totally environmentally positive and incredibly accommodating. Providing free use of apps like PressReader allows guests to download as many newspapers and magazines as they like and enjoy them throughout their stay. Great feature.

FREE CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST AREA

Room service is wonderful but the boomer set will always love the option of heading down to the lobby, perusing the food spread and starting their morning with a leisurely FREE breakfast. In fact, AARP’s 2016 study showed that a complimentary breakfast is one of two most wanted features at a hotel stay (the other is free Wi-Fi)— so keep that in mind. And don’t worry, there’s no need to pull in the high caliber chefs — a nice selection of standards like fresh fruit, muffins, toast and cereal will keep everyone happy.  

HAVE YOUR BEST STAFF HANDLING DIRECT RESERVATIONS 

About 41% of boomers will book their rooms online according to AARP, however that larger half will be making their reservations by phone. And for that, you need to have your most personable, knowledgeable people handing those calls. In essence, these calls will be the first impression these guests have of your establishment — make sure every one is the best it can be.

COMFORT IS KEY 

Minimalist room décor is a trend that a lot of hospitality businesses are moving towards. For instance, the CEO of Marriott noted that guests no longer care about dressers, desks and closets — they’d rather enjoy a bigger sense of space with simply a bed, a jumbo TV and Wi-Fi. However, the “guests” in this sense are millennials. And other generations may not be completely overjoyed with such a minimalized overhaul. Baby boomers want traditional features like a closet and dresser so they can unpack and make themselves at home. And those traveling for work definitely prefer a large in-room desk and chair over a tray-style workstation. You could also have the best of both worlds with a partial renovation — for instance, upgrade and brand a separate block of rooms targeted towards millennials and under.  It’s your property — make it work for you and your guests!

What are your thoughts on catering towards different generations? Let us know if you’re following the newest trends or staying on course with traditional features.