Millennials are willing to spend more on vacation than any other age group. That desire to travel, as previously reported by Business Insider, makes the age group the hospitality industry’s most impactful target market.
If capturing millennial interest is so important, how are hotels doing it?
The SLS Beverly Hills, which was recently voted the best hotel in the world by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, is known for its sweeping views of Los Angeles, trendy restaurants, and its chic, young vibe. Rates at the SLS Beverly Hills currently start at $362 per night. This location is just one of four SLS branded hotels; the others are in the greater Miami area and in the Bahamas.
In a recent phone interview with Business Insider, Christophe Thomas, the hotel’s general manager, outlined three essential strategies for attracting millennial guests: thinking local without sacrificing global relevance; providing an unforgettable experience; and standing out aesthetically.
Thomas believes guests want to feel like a local and maintains that the hotel’s success is rooted in “being connected to the local area” while remembering that “we are citizens of the world.”
Thomas said the The SLS Beverly Hills achieves that duality in a number of ways, from lining the walk into the lobby with a red carpet (“it puts you, right away, into the mood and spirit of the LA market”) to using local produce in the hotel’s restaurants (“it’s responsible behavior to be local”).
The SLS isn’t the only hotel employing these strategies. Skift’s Samantha Shankman recently reported that “the strategy allows guests to sample the local zeitgeist” and the trend of incorporating regional goods has been widely employed by boutique hotel brands to great success.
Another strategy is to focus on guest feedback to create a memorable guest experience.
“When you come to this property, we are so attuned to the needs and wants of our guests,” Thomas told Business Insider. “I think that it’s refreshing that – or at least I hope that – we are more than just a hotel. We are an experience.”
A recent experience the SLS rolled out is an exclusive, two-hour cocktail tasting. The experience, called Bazaar Flights at Gate: Bar Centro, features bartenders creating 12 local takes on cocktails from around the world in a 10-person setting. The by-reservation-only experience costs $100 per person.
Industry leaders agree that experience is the ultimate luxury. In March, legendary hotelier Ian Schrager told Business Insider’s Katie Warren that an air of luxury is “really about being involved in a unique experience and one that makes you feel really good about yourself and really comfortable.”
Thomas, who was formerly the hotel manager of Schrager’s first luxury property, also ventures that experience is further elevated by aesthetics. While design isn’t everything, a visually appealing property that is “going to look great on Instagram is really important for a younger generation,” Thomas said.
In February, Business Insider’s Lina Batarags wrote: “Much like the NYC penthouse that was designed specifically as a backdrop for Instagram influencers, hotels are being designed with photography at top of mind.” While the SLS opened its doors only ten years ago, it recently underwent a $22 million renovation that primarily focused on updating its guest rooms for that very reason.
“We maintained the whimsical elements of the public spaces,” Thomas said, while noting that the guest rooms were redesigned to have a lighter, brighter, and more photogenic feel.