While it’s easy to poke fun at millennials and their apparent obsession with material goods (like iPhones, avocados, and succulents), they’re actually leading the charge in today’s growing experience economy. As it turns out, nearly three-quarters of Millennials would rather spend money on real-life experiences than things.
And they aren’t the only ones. Overall personal spending on experience-related expenses, like dining out and traveling, is growing nearly four times faster than spending on goods, according to research from McKinsey & Company. Why? According to the report, key motivators for this growing trend are happiness, social media influence, and a fear of missing out. (The power of FOMO is real.)
Innovators in the hospitality and travel industry are starting to capitalize on the experience economy in numerous ways — from offering luxury hotel stay upgrades for top-tier loyalty members to crafting opportunities for once-in-a-lifetime getaways. Creating top-notch, unique experiences is key to grabbing travelers’ attention (whether they’re on business or vacation) and keeping it, ensuring they come back again and again.
Three hospitality industry giants have zeroed in on the experience economy to do just that.
Offer exclusive loyalty experiences
Ritz-Carlton’s new partnership with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Formula 1 team was no happy accident. The hotel, part of the Marriott brand, wants to build global awareness in affluent markets like Singapore and Abu Dhabi, as well as gain relevance with younger audiences. To do so, it’s offering Bonvoy (Marriott’s umbrella program) loyalty rewards members the chance to bid on exclusive F1 experiences — including chances to meet with drivers, drive custom cars, and more — at locations around the world. In turn, Ritz-Carlton has created an enticing hook to attract the attention of and build relationships with its target audience with experiences they can’t pass up.
Become a one-stop experience shop
Airbnb, a pioneer in the home-sharing sector of travel and hospitality, has moved beyond helping people simply find a nice place to stay on vacation. It’s evolved into an experience-based platform to help people identify and book fun and one-of-a-kind activities around the world, all hosted by locals. This has turned Airbnb into a truly end-to-end travel site. While its superguest travel membership program is still in the works, Airbnb has the bones in place to become a travel and experience epicenter for both travelers and hosts to connect, book, and earn points all in one place to delight customers and keep them coming back.
Capitalize on local expertise
One of the leading reasons travelers choose home rentals over hotels is that they are looking for a truly local experience. Hotels are wisely adapting to this type of traveler as evidenced by innovative programs like Hilton’s partnership with Foursquare, which integrates location technology into the Hilton Honors app, creating an Explore tab. There, travelers can find recommendations from local Hilton employees for anything from restaurants to nightlife, curated based on the type of vacation the guest is on. This “virtual concierge” provides guests with personalized suggestions from the experts who know the area best, helping them experience wherever they are just like locals.
The hospitality industry has shifted from providing travelers places to sleep and/or eat to offering unique and personalized experiences from booking to check-out. Hospitality brands have their eyes wide open and are becoming increasingly innovative at creating memorable guest experiences (both in and out of the hotel) that delight, entertain, and build loyalty.
If you, too, are seeking fresh ways and strong partnerships to create lasting loyalty for your hospitality brand, contact us today.