Survey: Are Millennials disrupting the hotel loyalty game?

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By: RickFerguson |

Posted on March 22, 2016

The latest report from PwC's Consumer Intelligence Series, "What�s driving customer loyalty for today�s hotel brands?" takes a deep dive into how much and in what ways Millennials are changing the drivers of hotel loyalty programmes. The bottom line: despite their perceived penchant for disrupting every industry they get their hands on, Millennials are much more similar to their older travellers in their loyalty programme behavior than they are different. The more things change, right?

Here's the money quote of key findings from the PwC report:

"1. Millennials are not unique in their attitudes and behaviors toward loyalty programmes. In fact, they are quite similar to travelers aged 30+. Rather than targeting millennials perse, brands are well advised to look at all age groups as they shape and implement loyalty programmes�since their attitudes and behavior are more similar than they are different.

"2. As loyalty programmes continue to mature, hotel companies will need to decide how to prioritize investments that drive brand engagement across all consumer segments,while simultaneously targeting the most profitable demographic. Ultimately, brands that drive the greatest engagement will likely accrue the highest revenue gains.

"3. After room quality, business and leisure travels have different criteria for preferences and loyalty programmes. Room price is less relevant to business travelers since they�re usually not paying; loyalty programmes are important because they mean free nights down the road. Leisure travelers meanwhile, are more price-sensitive. Brands are well advised to tailor benefits and loyalty programmes accordingly.

"4. While the sharing economy has garnered a lot of attention, most travelers�other than adventure-seeking young millennials�are wary of the unknown quality the sharing economy represents. Rather, they want the reassurance that a brand name provides the guarantee of safety, security, and quality. An opportunity may exist for hospitality companies to align with sharing economy partners; however, many questions around the execution of that model exist."

The Bullet Point: While there's nothing earth-shattering revealed in the PwC report, it does point out one truth that we've been trumpeting for a while: it's time to explode the myths that Millennials move in lock-step, that they are fundamentally changing every industry they touch, and that you can market to Millennials as a monolithic demographic group. Millennials are just like us olds: they're a collection of individuals, with individual needs, wants, and desires. The challenge for hotel loyalty programmes is to leverage the abundant data available in these programmes to market to them as individuals, not as "Millennials." Be authentic, be relevant, and be frictionless, and their loyalty will follow.

Download the full survey report here.

-Rick Ferguson

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