What Millennials Want: Top Hotel Trends for 2019

 In Hotel Construction

What are the top hotel trends?

1. More personalized designs and experiences
2. Smart technology in rooms
3. More catering to millennial business travelers
4. Making the hotel design suitable for Instagram photos
5. Eco-friendly design
6. Preparing business guests for longer stays (bleisure)
7. Redesign of hotel lobbies

The hospitality industry is seeing a massive shift in consumer preferences due to input from Millennials and Gen Z.

These shifting tastes are impacting the top hotels and their interior design, building materials, food & beverage offerings, furniture, artwork, lobbies and more. 

Take a look at the 2019 top hotel trends that millennials and Generation Z tastemakers are making the “new normal” in the hospitality and lodging space.

1. More Personalized Designs and Experiences

Those days of hotels and other lodging entities offering uniform, corporate rooms are going by the wayside.

Many of those staying in hotels want more personalized experiences and unique surroundings, a trend that has kicked into high gear given the influence of Millennials and Gen Z.

What does Generation Z want in a hotel?

In 2019, you’ll start to see designs based more on boutique hotels where the guest can customize the kind of experience they desire. This may mean several things:

  • Personalized greetings from the hotel staff.
  • Offering more personalization in the amenities offered.
  • Providing unique products hotel staff can offer guests.

Clearly millennials and Generation Z felt that too many hotels looked the same, were too sterile, and didn’t offer enough “experiences” to be considered noteworthy after a visit.  

The story here is, if you want their cash, be unique, be memorable and get personal.

Differentiation should become the goal here.

2. Smart Technology in Rooms

So how does technology factor into a modern hotel stay? And how highly do millennials favor technology in their rooms?

Simply put, it’s high time hotels and other lodging facilities upgrade room technology for guests.

The younger generation will soon start expecting smart rooms where they can control the room temperature, lighting and even entertainment through a mobile device. Perhaps even by voice.

And many of today’s top hotel corporations (like Hilton) are already working hard to implement smart rooms, which would also involve using mobile door keys for added security.

Interaction through a mobile device will also define the experience of the future.

Texting staff through a smartphone is convenient for the guest and can often free up the phones for the front desk staff, saving time and money for the hotel.

When done well, a top notch, cutting edge lodging experience that one can enhance via smartphone is sure to be shared on social media with that very same device.

3. More Catering to Millennial Business Travelers

We all know those who travel for business use hotels more than anyone.

Catering to these travelers will become a stronger trend in 2019 as millennials are more likely than boomers to enjoy business travel, even seeking out more positions where travel is a component of the job. 

The old hotel business center model is now being overshadowed by a new zeal for coworking spaces by the younger generations, where the lines between working and social interaction are often blurred.

Considering it’s already underway in many places, expect this trend to pick up steam in 2019 and into the coming decade.

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4. Making the Hotel Design Suitable for Instagram Photos

Social media marketing is essential for the hospitality and lodging industries. 

As a result, many of the top hotels are starting to design their hotels in ways that make them perfect Instagram photo moments.

A design tactic like this makes sense in a time when younger guests often posts pics of their vacations on Instagram.

Setting up rooms and common areas that look intriguing and appealing can do a lot for a hotel’s business, especially when seen by millions around the world.

And when a hotel is lucky enough to have a celebrity staying in one of their rooms or enjoying the amenities, an Instagram post from one of them could easily go viral and bring in record business.

A personal example, my family stayed at a Wyndham in Austin, Texas just before the new year and were instantly drawn to a number of Instagram-worthy features, including some eye-catching digital signage as you approach the lobby.

And you can tell they were paying attention to what’s hot in today’s hotel lobby trends.

It was eye-catching, relevant and a nice touch.

They also had some throwback media on display for the nostalgia buffs, or those looking to explain to their young ones what a cassette player is.

I’ve now mentioned this hotel and the amenities on half a dozen instances at least (via social and otherwise).

And while I fall more into the Gen X category, I can easily see the appeal for younger generations.

Once again, what we are seeing in hotel lobby trends is that it’s the unique and unusual designs and amenities that will take a hotel stay from “drab” to “fab” for the most influential customers.

Hoteliers looking to maximize their social media presence absolutely need step up their game if they want to compete for attention and bookings, especially with millenial and Gen Z guests.


5. Eco-Friendly Design

Don’t forget about the green trends in construction.

While we’ve certainly seen this trend take off in the housing market, the hotel industry is gravitating towards eco-friendly designs and amenities just as quickly. 

And it makes sense.  Younger generations are increasingly sensitive about preserving our environment and providing their loved ones with safer, greener alternatives.

Solar panels, of course, play a major component in this, though it’s far from the only eco-friendly idea. A few other things you’ll see being implemented:

  • Green buildings using recycled materials.
  • Recycling linens.
  • Use of more LED lighting in rooms.
  • Use of more water conservation devices.

The construction of these buildings is going to mean contracting with material providers who can prove their products are truly sustainable and easily installed.

LEED, (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) scores help determine how green a building is and provides a framework for healthy, energy-efficient and cost-saving “green” buildings. 

With almost 50 percent of millennials stating that climate change is the world’s biggest problem, you can expect these concerns to flow into purchasing choices.

Any hotelier with the wherewithal to “go green” not only stands to save on long-term costs (energy, water, etc) but will gain traction with a passionate, environmentally conscious consumer segment.

6. Preparing Business Guests for Longer Stays

Many hotels are no longer marketing themselves for just one or two-night stays.  Now it’s becoming more about extended stays or long weekends.

Part of this is an offshoot of the “staycation” made popular during the recession.

The staycation was billed as a way to explore ones own backyard, have a blast while doing so and cut costs on airfare.

Brands reinforcing the appeal of an extended stay can become more attractive to those who want a nearby getaway for a longer period of time, but now, also business travelers looking to make the most of their trips.

This speaks to another growing trend called “bleisure” or the mixing of business and leisure. 

Why pay for that trip to California?

Why not travel on the company dime, and then extend the stay a few days to get more bang for the buck? 

At least this is what many younger travelers are asking themselves when wanderlust coincides with work’s travel requirements.

Creating promotional packages for this behavior is a smart marketing move.

For designers, it’ll mean offering unique amenities to make the longer stays worth the time, like the aforementioned modern business centers.

This is also a great opportunity for concierges and guest services to forge stronger relationships with outside tour providers and the like to help these travelers make the most of their trips.

7. A Redesign of Hotel Lobbies

Another interesting trend emerging for the coming year is hotels redesigning how lobbies typically look. On tap is making them look more inviting, plus offering more activities with personalized experiences.

Now being deemed “lifestyle lobbies”, checking in will feel more like entering a family room rather than the typical lobby structure you’ve grown up seeing.

Back to the Wyndham in Austin.

They had the lobby feeling more like my living room – a welcome departure from the norm, especially with two kids under 7. 

Featured in the off-lobby common area we were rewarded with not one, but 4 separate video game stations. 

Two of Nintendo’s Wii game consoles were featured on two huge flatscreens, as well as two 8 bit video game tables stocked with 30 free games to play. No quarters necessary.

Top hotels of the future will look more and more like modern living rooms meant for socializing and engagement versus the transactional. 

I can say we delayed entering our room after check in by about 20 minutes, giving the timeshare staff ample time to give us a quick pitch while we enjoyed the amenities.

If you want to learn even more about how to thrive in this sector, take advantage of a free trial to our HotelMarketData.com hotel construction database where you can track the planning and construction of new hotels throughout the country. 

Matt Holmes
Matt has been at BuildCentral since 2018 and oversees the marketing function at BuildCentral. He has his Bachelor's Degree in Electronic Media Sales & Management from Ball State University and has been in customer acquisition for over 20 years serving the broadcast communications, hospitality, e-commerce and AEC disciplines.
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