Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 3.46.15 PMMarriott expects millennials to make up to half its guests by 2020 and is revamping its strategy to attract them. Unlike the boomers, millennials are not attracted to a cookie-cutter, consistent experience when they travel. Marriott’s partner in this endeavor, consulting firm Farenheit 212, believes that millennials can best be reached through storytelling that describes the value of product. They appreciate organizations that have strong connections to local communities and respect entrepreneurial talent.

Marriott decided to incorporate these ideas in their business a few properties at a time. The chain invited hotel employees and local entrepreneurs to submit concepts for select properties food and drink options to win 60,000 toward their project. Results: A pop-up bar and dinner joint with a picnic theme (RoofNic) in London, an artisanal cheese-and-charcuterie spot serving local beer (Craft + Culture) in Arizona, and a nightclub hosting international DJs (Square) in Dubai.

Marriott is not the only brand looking to offer a localized experience. Brands are using property-specific social media messages, image galleries, and experience guides to drive more bookings. User-generated content by guests is one way brands can use to showcase the experiences in their hotels. Starwood, for example, integrates select Instagram posts tagged with #SPGLife onto the product pages on each of its brand site and enables filtering by experience type (dining, hotel, rooms). Hotel photos that focus on local activities and architecture can also drive a connection with consumers. Ritz-Carlton’s “Memories by the Ritz-Carlton” offers a dynamic feed of images, which allows users to filter by content type and upload directly from cloud storage.

Given that 80% of all online content is user-generated and 40% of all consumers surveyed expect brands to utilize their interactions to provide unique and tailored experiences, more brands should leverage this content mine.

For more on how digitally savvy hotel brands are reaching a new generation of consumers, download a copy of L2’s 2015 Digital IQ Index: Luxury Hotels.
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