We all work with traveling Millennials, and we get a pretty good idea of what they want and expect from hostels. Hotels are paying attention too. In addition to hotel chains that actually branch into hostel territory by selling dorm beds, other hotels are simply looking for what their guests think is cool. (hint: they think hostels are cool, even if they don’t realize it) The result is a shift in hotel facilities that provide social spaces just like hostels.
Joris Angevaare, Creative Director for Designphase DBA, was tasked with renovating the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. His conclusions about their guests were summarized in the article, Millennial Travel Habits Affecting Hospitality Design
Angevaare did away with the traditional reception counters, allowing guests to move seamlessly between the lobby, restaurant and bar. “Interior design is about creating a space that allows for the best activity flow,” he says.
The direction at Grand Copthorne Waterfront is especially relevant given that a study by Hilton found that hotel guests today enjoy being “socially alone” – meaning being in a large social space, even if they do not mingle with others.
“Essentially, by providing guests an area to linger for prolonged periods, hotels add to their return on investment through food and beverage sales. More than just a transitory lounging space, hotels are creating a more engaging environment for guests to build new connections and get things done,” he explains.
Essentially, they have created a big Common Room where guests can sit around and not talk to each other. As any decent hostel operator knows, that’s only half a step away from a fantastic social community if they gave it the slightest nudge.
What do you think about Hilton’s idea of guests wanting to be “socially alone?” Is that a solid conclusion, or a misinterpretation of their behavior?
In my hostel many guests frequently come to the Common Room with a book, phone, laptop, or other distraction ad sit quietly by themselves. New receptionists sometimes tell me that they don’t approach those guests because they think those people don’t want to be bothered. We always explain that no one chooses a social hostel, goes to the most social area in that hostel, and then intentionally avoids social interactions. If they want to be left alone, they’ll stay in their room or find a more secluded area of the hostel where they can concentrate. The book or device is just so that they don’t look awkward while they wait for a conversation to start. Sure enough, if you start up *any* conversation, those people drop their distractions and start to interact.
Do you think Millennial hotel guests are different? Do you think hotels will start hiring social coordinators to create atmosphere and organize activities like hostels do? Do you think that would work for them?