Gearing up for the millennial traveler

What specific types of services and facilities do the youngest generation of employees demand, and how are serviced apartment providers catering to their needs? HRM finds out

One of the paradoxes of modernisation is that it has never been easier to connect with someone virtually, yet travel – particularly for business – is at an all-time high. The Global Business Travel Association predicts that business travel will expand by 6.6% in 2015, underlining the value placed on face-to-face contact by companies.

‘Millennials’ – those born after 1980 (otherwise known as Generation Y) – have grown up in a different world, one shaped and sustained by technology, and this is being reflected in a whole new set of preferences and behaviours.

According to the “Tomorrow’s Traveller: Millennials and the Future of Business Travel” study by The Serviced Apartment Company (SACO), millennials are 50% more likely to have travelled for business in the past two years than people over the age of 35.

“That’s absolutely true. In the past, you needed to be of a certain level in a company before you got to travel for business,” says Jastina Balen, Director – Group Branding and Communications, Frasers Hospitality. “Nowadays, travelling is much more accessible to the younger generation and with expanding flight choices such as budget airlines, costs are being reigned in as well.

“Even my own staff, just 27 years old on average, have travelled more for business then I ever had at that age,” she adds.

Twenty-seven per cent of the reservations at 8 on Claymore Serviced Residences, which is managed by Royal Plaza on Scotts, were registered as millennials last year. “More than 60% of these are for our studio residences which are mostly utilised by business travellers for single occupancy,” says Patrick Fiat, Chief Experience Officer of 8 on Claymore Serviced Residences.

“Our research has also shown that business travel continues to grow,” says Arthur Kiong, CEO of Far East Hospitality. “Technology has yet to replace the feel of a hand-shake, and face-to-face interaction is more relevant than ever.”

Millennials do not view travel as a luxury, but as a necessity that is part and parcel of their work lives, says Kiong. “They live in a borderless world with round-the-clock service that is delivered through their smartphones.”

Millenial travellers’ expectations

According to the above-mentioned SACO study, when a business traveller is asked what matters most in their accommodation, they say the bed. Next in line is “great food”, followed by high speed broadband connection in third place. Overall, “millennials” say they value a high-speed broadband connection more than older travellers (57%, compared to 39% of those aged 35 and above).

Almost half (46%) of Generation Y business travellers say they look forward to accommodation offering better access to technology in rooms, compared to just 38% of older age groups. And when asked about other innovations, such as keyless access to rooms, digital concierges, and a wider range of ways to book online, digital natives in the 18-to-34-year-old age bracket were generally more excited than older peers.

Millennials are twice as likely as older travellers to associate serviced apartments with being sociable (11%, compared to five per cent for people aged 35 and above). As a result, accommodation is evolving: focusing less on purely leisure facilities and instead creating ‘blended’ spaces suitable for both socialising and networking.

“Millennials want to be connected online all the time to share their thoughts, putting brand engagement into play since emotional components can go a long way,” says Fiat. “Social media plays a big part in engaging with the millennials. They feel connected when brands respond to or share their posts.

“Likewise, bad experiences will also be shared immediately. This impacts on potential bookings as candid reviews have major influence on millennials’ purchasing decisions,” he adds. “They are well-informed and resourceful when selecting their accommodation.”

Indeed, there are four fundamental demands of a millennial traveller, says Balen:

  • Connectivity – high-speed internet
  • Location – accessibility of transport nodes such as trains, buses and taxi stands
  • Amenities and facilities – pools, saunas, gymnasiums and the like
  • Safety – overall security of the residence

Specially-catered services and facilities

Businesses are adapting to the needs of those millennials who have started to travel at a much younger age and more frequently than previous generations.

In view of the changing needs of travellers, collaterals and engagement are moving online. eCompendium and eConcierge are part of the services that 8 on Claymore Service Residences is offering. It is also boosting a responsive website that is compatible with electronic devices automatically.

Besides being active on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TripAdvisor, the property also works closely with online travel agents, which are widely used by millennials.

8 on Claymore Serviced Residences offers resort-style elements, such as an outdoor pool with an open air deck, cabanas and a barbeque area amongst its tropical setting. “Some of the millennials who prefer to be in a more relaxed environment have chosen to settle down in the cabanas with their laptops and mobile devices as they enjoy the sunshine,” says Fiat.

As the millennials travel with gadgets, they enjoy the ease of logging onto complimentary high speed wireless broadband connection wherever they are. This high connectivity blurs the line of work and play for millennials. A state-of-the-art gym with Technogym equipment is available for those millennials who are increasingly health-conscious.

To cater to the 24-7 lifestyle of the millennial traveller, Frasers Hospitality provides 24-hours access to its gyms and pools. The lifestyle-focused Capri brand by Frasers also offers perks like rocking deck chairs that are popular with travellers looking to unwind by the pool and do some work on their laptops as well.

Not so different after all

Millenials are also like regular older business travellers, who are happy to take it offline and meet people in communal spaces as they globetrot. Far East Hospitality considers factors beyond technological innovations to improve customer experiences. “We need to stay grounded and not forget we are in the business of making people feel at home; technology is but an enabler in this case,” says Kiong.

At 8 on Claymore Serviced Residences, the residents’ lounge was created to allow residents to meet and bond over the daily buffet breakfast or coffee and tea, which are available all-day.

Residents’ get-togethers organised by 8 on Claymore Serviced Residences also allow guests to immerse themselves in the cosmopolitan culture of Singapore. Festivities that are celebrated at the get-togethers include Lunar New Year, Thanksgiving, Lantern Festival and Halloween.

“Ultimately, it boils down to not telling millennials what to do but rather, giving them a slew of choices to choose from and doing our best to engage them as residents,” says Balen.

What they really want

According to Arthur Kiong, CEO of Far East Hospitality, when it comes to choosing accommodations:

  • Millennials are not motivated by consistent standards, but by uniqueness. This differs from the older generation that will stay with a brand available back home that they are familiar with. Millennials on the other hand have no qualms staying with a local brand - a genuine sense of place.
  • Millennials do not spend too much time watching TV but older generations of travellers do. Everything can be streamed online for them.
  • Millennials do not use a business desk to work. They prefer to lounge.
  • Millennials do not unpack their luggage, and do not require a lot of closets or drawers.
  • Millennials do not spend much time in their rooms and prefer to be in social spaces even when they are relaxing.
  • Millennials are not swayed by awards but by peer reviews. This changes the way providers advertise and market their brands.
  • Millennials want to be emotionally connected to a brand in terms of what it stands for, rather than product attributes.

 

Menus catering to the health conscious millennial traveller

Capri by Fraser, Brisbane has partnered with well-known chef and paleo ambassador Pete Evans. “Fresh, nutritious and delicious” is the signature style at Asana restaurant, bar and cafe with Evans as consultant chef and chief menu designer. All menus have been created with the modern traveller in mind, someone who is looking for a dining experience that nourishes both body and soul.

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the adjoining café is home to coffee brews by Melbourne coffee scientists The Sensory Lab, as well as grab-and-go salads and sweet treats.

 

Wired up for the millennial traveller

Capri by Fraser is a design-led hotel residence that caters to the digitally-driven generation who appreciate the technologically-integrated lifestyle available.

Designed to meet the lifestyle needs of a generation that is “always on” and “always connected”, Capri by Fraser is wired up with iPad-activated check-ins, e-Concierge, e-Print and free high-speed WiFi Internet access, to ensure its guests are always on the move.

The e-Concierge service in particular helps the millennial traveller plan their trips and make more efficient use of their limited time in a given property.

Capri by Fraser also offers guests “The Purple Envelope”, which contains unique local activities that are specially sourced and different from the more general tourist attractions. “These include having a meal at a specific individual’s place because his mother cooks very well, and renting bicycles to cycle with an impromptu group of residents to East Coast,” says Jastina Balen, Director – Group Branding and Communications, Frasers Hospitality.

 

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