Today’s traveler is generally more adventurous and self-sufficient than in previous generations. According to Robin Kormin, Head of Loyalty Marketing and CRM at Global Hotel Alliance, baby boomer and millennial travelers are increasingly seeking “unique experiences that they can tell their friends about, rather than the highly planned or group travel to typical destinations.” To accommodate a new age of vacationing, it’s imperative that travel businesses and hotels take initiative in responding to a new set of needs.

Changing tides

One reason for the transformation in travelers’ expectations, explains Kormin, is that younger generations “grew up traveling without family through teen tours, exchange programs and semesters abroad.” By taking advantage of these programs, the post-baby boomer generations have learned to utilize digital technology while traveling. In other words, there has been less need for full-service concierges.

To complement a less traditional and rigidly scheduled experience, travelers have adopted a greater price transparency in choosing their accommodations, while also being receptive to wider selections.

“Many travelers embrace a more authentic, less cookie-cutter experience, which has led to the proliferation of ‘hotel collections,’ a group of hotels ‘soft branded’ under one major brand name or loyalty program,” says Kormin.

“All in all, the opportunities for adventure when traveling (at all price points) have never been greater and the appetite for off-the-beaten-path travel should see considerable growth in the coming years.”

These types of collections offer unique, individualized architecture, design, atmosphere and amenities, even though they are part of a larger hotel group. A rise in flexibility has also led to a rise in the “sharing economy,” where travelers can book accommodations directly from home owners renting their own houses or guest spaces.  

Responding to change

“More and more hotel loyalty programs are moving into the ‘experiences’ space as a way to differentiate from the competition and provide memorable moments that create greater emotional connection with the brand,” says Kormin. “All in all, the opportunities for adventure when traveling (at all price points) have never been greater and the appetite for off-the-beaten-path travel should see considerable growth in the coming years given the appetite of the younger generation of travelers to prefer ‘experiences’ over ‘things.’