How smart hoteliers can design spaces that appeal to millennials and accommodate baby boomers
Renovating rooms, lobbies, restaurants and other common spaces to cater to younger travelers’ preferences is smart business and the smartest hotels and designers know how to do that without alienating baby boomers.
Few have articulated this as well as Smashhotels’ Scott Greenberg, who recently told the Washington Post, “If we attract young people, old people will show up. But if you build a hotel for old people, young people never show up.” He explains that if he develops a hotel his three millennial-age children would stay at, he knows baby boomers will enjoy it, too. Whether they like it or not, boomers are getting older. Luckily for hotel designers, both millennials and boomers have the same expectations. It just took a while for the boomers to admit it.
Focus on lifestyle, not age
Vice president of global branding for Radisson Red Rose Anderson argues that hotels should be less interested in designing for a particular generation and focus more on appealing to lifestyles. She points out that preferences attributed to millennials go beyond a specific age. In many respects, people at any age are social and connected, and they want to be made to feel at home when they travel.
The Population Reference Bureau reports that the number of Americans ages 65 or older will rise from 46 million in 2016 to more than 98 million by 2060. More of these adults are divorced or living alone compared with previous generations. So, it’s easy to understand why they might be seeking inclusiveness and connectivity too.
Hotels that want to accommodate baby boomers in addition to millennials, for instance, need to pay attention to such design details as the height of toilet seats, background music and low-salt menu options.
Ageless trends and innovations
The global wellness market is valued in the trillions of dollars in part because it appeals as much to baby boomers as it does millennials. LED and other types of smart lighting appeal to millennials’ sensibility of being conscious environmental stewards AND can provide more comfortable lighting for boomers’ aging eyes.
While New Wyndham Hotels uses softer curves to create “a smaller oasis of comfort,” the brand’s Senior Director Noelle Nicolai notes that the lack of sharp edges and organic shapes make spaces safer for older adults, too.
HotelNewsNow.com reports that designers continue to incorporate wellness in guestrooms by upgrading mattresses and pillows, as well as switching to ergonomic furniture. Such improvements are obviously just as appealing to baby boomers as they are millennials.
Not so different after all
Hoteliers do have to take certain specific considerations for aging guests into mind, and they mostly pertain to accessibility and safety. Beyond that, the experience guests want is mostly the same, right down to a hotel’s “Instagrammability.” According to Google, 82 percent of baby boomers who are online have an average of 4.6 social media accounts.
From a design perspective, it doesn’t matter much whether you’re a baby boomer or a millennial. You’re looking for a way to feel comfortable and socialize. Hotel designer George Yabu tells Skift that guests want the same thing, no matter what they pay for their room. “It’s how you touch people,” he says. “How you engage people.”