The baby boomers have ruled the roost for decades. Armed with tidy pensions, financial security, and sheer power in numbers, this generation’s custom has been coveted by businesses in every sector–including the hospitality industry.

Generation X, with its job instability and paltry numbers barely registered on anyone’s radar–and surely posed no threat to the reign of the boomers. But that is all about to change. There is a new generation taking over.

With over 80 million members in the United States alone, the Millennials–a.k.a Generation Y–are the most rapidly growing consumer segment. And marketers are taking notice.


So how does one go about marketing to a millennial?

First you must understand a bit about this generation’s characteristics.

Meet the Millennials
While each individual member of every generation possesses unique qualities, there are a few traits that are said to characterize the Millennials as a whole.

  • Highly social, both online and off.
  • Tech-savvy and require real-time information.
  • Fearful of missing out.
  • Conscious of social and civic responsibility.
  • Attracted to highly interactive sites.

As a marketer, it is important to select the best platform to reach this influential consumer group. Since the Millennial is plugged in more than any other generation, the best way to attract their attention is to meet them where they’re at–social media.

Here are a few examples of clever companies capitalizing on social media to attract this promising group of travelers.

TRYP Hotel
This Times Square Hotel has developed a social network lounge, cleverly named “Lobby Friend” to appeal to the Millennial’s desire for up-to-date information and social interaction.

Guests are afforded the opportunity to join Lobby Friend and access it over the course of their stay. This membership gives the guest online access to the concierge, staff members, and other guests who have also joined.

Members are kept abreast of events and special deals, provided with help finding NYC attractions, and made aware of get-togethers organized by other guests. And, if a member finds themselves lost in the Big Apple, help is just a message away.

If you’re considering creating your own version of “Lobby Friend,” check out Turning Your Website Into a Hospitality Hub.

Aurora Expeditions
Known for adventurous expeditions to far-flung destinations like Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, or the Kimberley Coast, Aurora Expeditions has found the way to let their tech-savvy millennials share their experiences with loved ones back home.

Using TrekTraka, a social network marketing system, clients are able to share their trek with followers via their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.

Followers can then monitor their friend’s progress and view other engaging information generated by Aurora about this adventure–information that potential can lead to new bookings later.

Azul Airlines
The Millennial generation prefers to deal with companies that possess a strong sense of social responsibility. Brazil’s Azul Airlines “Pink” campaign earned the company a reputation for exactly that.

Unlike the many other airlines that jumped on the “pink planes for breast cancer” initiative, Azul took it a step further and invited the public to name its pink plane–a move that garnered a massive social media following.
The crew was outfitted in hot pink uniforms and the hashtag #OtubroRosaNaAzul was introduced, which translates to “Pink October with Azul.”

Air Asia
Air Asia, a company renowned for mastering the art of social media marketing, appealed to the millennial’s interactive nature through the “Where’s Johno?” campaign.

Using Google Streetview, visitors were invited to partake in five different online games–each based on an actual attraction found on Australia’s Gold Coast.

To make the games even more appealing, players were asked to locate “Johno” at each location, collect five different stamps from him, and enter for a chance to win a free trip to this Queensland destination.

While each generation has much in common with the preceding one, there are also distinct differences. The Millennials are the first group to grow up with Google at their fingertips, a collection of Facebook friends, and a cell phone glued to their hands. And the best way to win their business is through a clever social media campaign.

How do you market to millennials? What traits have you noticed are unique to this generation?

This post was contributed by Kimberley Laws. She is a freelance writer, Mediashower blogger, and proud member of Generation X. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

Image courtesy of photos.com.

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