The post-Covid-19 tourism industry is undergoing a paradigm shift as Millenials and Generation Z are driving the new digital-first future of customer experience. MSc student Daphnee’s research sets out to explore the Millenials and Gen Zs’ behaviours, expectations and opinions on the great hospitality reset.
As future Digital Business Analytics experts, EMLV students are always on the lookout for emerging trends in market research. Daphnee, class of 2021, is an MSc student at Pole Leonard de Vinci Higher Education.
“I have long been attracted to the hospitality industry for the expertise and excellence it provides. However, after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Luxury Management, I decided to specialize in digital marketing and data analysis to pursue my career path in this industry that is constantly reinventing itself and innovating to meet customers’ high expectations.” (Daphnee, MSc, 2021)
As part of her MSc degree in Digital Business and Data Analytics, her dissertation focused on the Millenials’ and Gen Zs’ perceptions of the Hospitality industry after the spread of the Coronavirus. Her research also incorporates the different impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world of hotels, tourism and travel, seen through the eyes of the younger generations.
How Millennials and Gen Zs are shaping the hospitality industry
By examining the data collected from a sample via a set of questions asked within the investigation, the research brings together diversity in millennials and generation Z’s opinions concerning the COVID-19 effects on travel behaviour and tourism in general. It appears that the consequences of this pandemic are significant for millennials.
Their decision-making process is affected and their behaviour as well, when it comes to travelling and enjoying this sector’s services. Thus, it affects hospitality businesses in their strategies to sell their products/services and attract and retain these people in their establishments.
In this new era, travel/tourism managers have to innovate and adapt to satisfy and retain their customers. This world sanitary crisis has thrown the dice again. It has erased everything we had knew and has integrated new processes into our daily life. As a result, everyone’s life has changed, especially the Millennials and Generation Z’s, which has been redesigned. The industries that have suffered the most are indeed tourism, events, restaurants and hotels.
Hospitality and travel behaviours in 2021
- Out of 118 participants, 72 indicated having travelled since the spread of the Coronavirus. However, opinions diverge as to a potential return to normalcy for the tourism industry. Indeed, 81 respondents believe strongly in return to normalcy for the travel and tourism sector. At the same time, 37 remain cautious and believe that there will be many updates or changes in travel behaviours.
- We note that for a future trip, of all the respondents, 75 indicate that they would prioritize group activities with family and friends only, i.e., people they travel with. Another 43 participants, relatively serene, suggest that they would plan activities with people they do not know or with whom they do not travel in any case (strangers or unknowns).
- We note that a significant part of this study’s participants (more precisely 103 agree that the pandemic of Coronavirus has changed the travelling habits of consumers/customers. The consumer experience has then been altered because the values and sentiments of consumers have changed as well. As mentioned earlier in the study, people have seen changes in all aspects of their daily lives: travelling, entertaining, learning, communicating, working, shopping have all changed.
The travel and hospitality industries must now continue to apply the essential measures for the safety and health of all while offering their products and services in more innovative or original forms to get back on track and restore stability.
In the Millennials and Gen Zs’ words
If we look at the participants’ opinion on the state of the tourism world today, it is rather negative. Participants describe it as: “dead“, “different“, “impacted“, “weakened“, “catastrophic“, “damaged“, “chaotic” or “struggling“. However, a minority seems to remain hopeful, these participants describe it as “evolving“, “standstill“, “adapting“, “challenged“, “transforms“, “promising“, “reborn” or “reinventing“.
Being able to recover and adapt well in difficult and changing times becomes a new goal. Stabilizers, Settlers and New Optimists are, therefore, the latest consumer profiles. As a result of the pandemic, new tensions have emerged between the desires and the status quo that people experience. Human anxiety appears more than ever as an opportunity to progress but not at the expense of well-being.
The useful recommendations advised here for shaping tomorrow’s world can be seen as long-term strategies. However, the hospitality players have to implement it very quickly to be effective:
- Digitize the business and prioritize the digitalization in the operating model
- Develop skills related to resilience and transformation
- Anticipate changes in customer behaviours and sentiments.
Improving digital engagements will undoubtedly contribute to the assessment of the organization’s strength. However, we also believe that all consumer-facing companies will need to implement a robust feedback loop to improve their ability to gather qualitative data and feedback and keep ahead of the trends.
Following this pandemic, we will see the evolution of some critical trends in the hotel industry:
- The hyper-personalization of the stay
- The hyper-localism of the hotel’s products and services
- A digital community and dedicated digital spaces within hotels, as well in workspaces
These digital capacities will become paramount with telecommuting now part of our daily lives.
And much more important than we think is the collectivist mindset that will allow cohesion and a healthy diversity on the side of the employees and the customers within the hospitality industry.
How technology is changing the post-Covid Hospitality industry
We believe that technology will become a significant hospitality industry trend as well. Technology has new uses; it is about making places and hotels safer. Some technologies will help mitigate the risks of COVID-19 and provide reassurance to guests (such as robotics and UV lights, for example, or touchless check-in and check-out and keyless entry to rooms, digital menu systems, passport and ID scanners, virtual TV remote, cashless payments, facial recognition…).
In addition, technology can improve operational capabilities in a post-pandemic world, from reducing the need for human contact to facilitating the cleanup process. Virtual and augmented reality can make meetings and events more engaging, for example.
Indeed, comfort, impeccable employee/establishment hygiene, health and safety will be at the top of customers’ priorities. The global pandemic has changed our lives, and the basics we knew have shifted to a whole new routine that will undoubtedly shape the years to come.
We will need to be vigilant in the following years, and follow the course of this evolution and return to normalcy. However, we must remain confident for the hospitality and tourism industry, so with careful planning and execution, the sector will surely emerge stronger than before. What has been laid out in this study will help their business leaders meet today’s challenges while building and strengthening their business for the long term.