HD Talks

Millennial Madness

Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Trends

Looking to capitalize on the Millennial traveler and stay competitive, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group announced on Tuesday its new “lifestyle select” brand Radisson Red, which will cater to younger travelers.

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For hotel brands, the Millennial traveler is the holy grail, and Radisson Red highlights what other Carlson Rezidor brands may lack—a more daring aesthetic, a more personalized experience, a large bar area, and an emphasis on technology. The new brand emphasizes its technology prowess through a phone app that allows guests to “order a car to pick them up at the airport, request that the room’s minibar be stocked with certain drinks, order a sandwich to be waiting at the hotel’s 24-hour deli, and arrange for family photos to beam from the television screen when they enter their room,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

“The emergence of Millennial attitudes is driving this trend and launch of Radisson Red,” Gordon McKinnon, executive vice president and chief branding officer at Carlson, wrote in an email.  “It comes at a point where there’s a distinct and growing opportunity to produce something new, something that the market as a whole isn’t offering right now. It is also strategically the right time for Carlson Rezidor—the markets are somewhat confident, our existing portfolio is settled and performing well, so it’s a case of what next?”

This type of design evolution has been on Carlson Rezidor’s mind for some time. While I was at the brand conference for midmarket brand Country Inns & Suites in Miami last year, executives were enthusiastic about an updated, modern redesign that would hone in on Generation Y travelers.

As a Millennial myself, I know we’re often derided as fickle people who lack loyalty to brands. That may be partly true (although I’ve been brand loyal to Oreo for almost 30 years) but we are also a coveted demographic.  While some people bemoan the “Me” generation, it’s in a hotelier’s best interest to embrace the unpredictable nature of a Millennial.

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We’re not going anywhere either.  Indeed, Radisson Red is just the latest to jump on the Generation Y bandwagon. Marriott International’s launch of Moxy last year is designed with the next generation in mind. And Commune Hotels + Resorts Millennial-focused Tommie brand is about “space-efficient ‘crash pads’ rather than tricked-out hotel rooms” that stress communal living and free Wi-Fi.

We know it’s just the beginning of the decision-making power of Millennial travelers at Hospitality Design magazine, too. At HD Expo this year, we’ll be hosting a panel on Millennials, “Affordable Luxury: Brands that Speak to Gen Y.” Audra Tuskes from Commune Hotels + Resorts, Verena Haller from Morgans Hotel Group, and other Millennial and design experts will dissect the Millennial traveler and discuss what brands need to do to capture a group that wants everything, all the time, the exact way they want it.

I’ll be in the back, eating Oreos.

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