Rooms have been reworked to appeal to the sensibilities of a new age demographic.
At a conference in Orlando last week, Marriott International executives had a message for some three thousand general managers of the company’s hotels. From now on, said the executives, Marriott would be tailoring its hotels – and its marketing efforts – toward Millennials, the generational cohort that represents the future of the hotel industry’s customer base.
“These Millennial travelers will be our dominant customer segment for the next 20 years,” said Janis Milham, global brand manager for Courtyard, Marriott’s 30-year-old brand for business travelers.
Hotel rooms have been reworked to appeal to the design sensibilities of younger travelers. Lobbies, often treated as little more than a conduit for ferrying guests from the front desk to their rooms, have been made more welcoming and communal, with Starbucks cafes, free WiFi and bistros that serve small plates and plenty of booze.
Marriott even announced this week that it was importing AC Hotels – the chic, design-focused, ultra-European hotel brand – to North America to snatch a larger slice of the multi-billion dollar market of trendy travelers born after 1980.
And Marriott knows that Millennials care about more than sleek design; they care about sustainability, too.
“Today what’s different, I think, between Boomers and Millennials, is that there’s convenient green and real green,” says Brian King, Marriott’s senior vice president of global brand management. “The Millennials,” he says, “especially the younger Millennials, are super sensitive about green.”
Still, Millennials’ “super sensivity” might balk at the size of Marriott’s environmental tread, a footprint so colossal that it must be measured in the millions of units. In 2011, for example, Marriott’s more than 3,800 hotels emitted the equivalent of nearly 3 million tons of carbon dioxide, consumed more than 53 million cubic meters of water, and burned more than 6 million megawatt hours of energy, according to the company’s sustainability report [PDF].
Some industry experts have wondered whether the type of hospitality expected at upscale hotels fundamentally undermines efforts to go green. According to a report from the International Hotel Management School at the Breda University of Applied Scientists, “a significant portion of the hotel industry leaders is indeed skeptical to applying environmentally friendly practices in a hotel setting.”
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