It’s no secret that many younger consumers are interested in paying for experiences over things. Brands across categories are angling to keep up, investing in design, services and marketing that cater to the values of millennial and Gen-Z consumers.
In the hospitality space, Marriott is leveraging its decade-old Aloft Hotels chain to capitalize on the rising importance of the “experience.” For insight into these efforts, PSFK spoke to Toni Stoeckl, global brand leader of lifestyle brands at Marriott International. “Travel is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in a new experience and collect memories,” he says. “You can either share on social or have a story to tell when you come home.”
The chain has invested in services and travel experiences that will be particularly resonant for a younger traveler. For example, the chain was among the first to roll out voice control in guest rooms via integration with Apple’s Siri. “Aloft is an innovator,” says Stoeckl, “it’s a tech-focused R&D lab for our company.”
Known for its contemporary design aesthetic and youthful branding, the Aloft chain is also characterized by its relationship to the music industry. All of its hotels are outfitted with the equipment necessary to host an impromptu concert, and offer discounts to incentivize touring musicians to stay with them while on the road.
This fall, Aloft hosted a “Homecoming” series of concerts in partnership with Universal Music Group. Recognizing that music can be an expression of a locale as well as an artist, Aloft asked musicians including BANKS, Troye Sivan and Mala Rodriguez to play shows at hotel locations in their respective hometowns around the world.
The emphasis on local talent is central to Aloft’s strategy. Regular concerts at each of the 166 Aloft locations offer local musicians an opportunity to play on a larger stage, while guests of the hotel have free entertainment built into their stay. While these shows are another amenity offered to entertain millennial hotel guests, they’re also free to the public, a clever way of building a relationship between the hotel and its local audience.
“[With Aloft], we are breaking away from the typical, beige hotel landscape,” Stoeckl says. “We’re infusing it with some of the vibrant future of travel.”