…Continuing a look at millennials in Las Vegas (Part 1: A Look At Millennials In Las Vegas)
The best and worst thing about millennial travelers is that they want a unique hotel experience. It’s great because this will help mold the next generation of experiences at hotel properties. It’s bad because hotels will tinker until they find something that works. This could take a while and be full of ideas that actually make staying at hotels worse.
Those experiences millennials seek are both in the room and out of the room while remaining on the property. Since millennials don’t particularly want to stay in their hotel room you should continue to see small older rooms renovated to be more functional than familiar. SLS Las Vegas, The Cromwell and The Linq have all renovated small hotel rooms to look beautiful but feel larger and act more functionally. This may not have been the case 10-15 years ago when a nice hotel room meant that it was simply a giant room.
Millennials would rather go outside of their room to drink beer, cocktails or coffee while messaging, facetiming or snapchatting with friends. Free public wifi is at least as important than in-room wifi that has been paid for already with a resort fee. Similarly, millennials would rather go out for a meal then order room service. The in-room amenities we’ve grown accustomed to aren’t necessarily desired by the younger generation. Expect to see coffee machines and minibars continue to disappear from hotel rooms in Las Vegas.
This generation has grown up paying fees for everything from baggage on their flights to resort fees at hotels. Since the “next customer” is accustomed to fees you should expect to see more fees. Resort fees in Las Vegas are probably just the beginning of extra fees. In the future there will probably be fees for just about any benefit you can imagine. Last year I wrote about bars on the east coast charging an ice fee for fancy ice in cocktails. This trend won’t stop. Millennials are okay paying up charges for improved products and services.
Like young casino visitors before them, millennials are pickier than older generations. Earning their loyalty isn’t the same for hotels as it is for older customers but it’s possible. According to travel marketing firm Leonardo, 14% of millennials are enrolled in at least 1 hotel loyalty program. That’s not a lot, but they’re still young and open to becoming loyal to a hotel. The main reason they’re enrolled in these programs is brand loyalty and the second is to earn rewards. This preference in loyalty might have been flipped for previous generations.
Loyalty is slightly more difficult for Las Vegas casino-resorts than national hotels as there’s a balancing act as they try to balance hotel loyalty and casino players clubs. Some operators are trying to expand their players clubs to work for all customers while others are separating hotel and casino customer. SLS Las Vegas might be the prime example of the latter as their casino players club rewards for everything in the casino itself while Starwood is the hotel loyalty manager (see full article on SLS and Starwood here).
Millennials don’t want confusing loyalty rewards that you’ll typically see from casino players clubs. They want straightforward rewards like stay 3 nights and get 1 free. They don’t want ambiguous casino players club rewards like earn x points then you may qualify for “something” depending on your play (and their mood). They want an eye for an eye when it comes to rewards – hotel loyalty for hotel rooms and so forth.
In Las Vegas, millennials expect an amazing experience and if they spend money to get that experience they’d like to have a similar experience the next time. This is why you’re seeing some Vegas Strip casinos reward for non-casino spending. This allows them to understand how customers are spending their money and how they should be rewarded in the future.
There isn’t one Las Vegas loyalty club model that’s perfect right now. We can expect to see the casinos shifting around how they reward customers to find the right balance of traditional players club and modern resort loyalty.
A Mobile Generation
Millennials are the first entirely mobile generation. Everything has to be available by mobile devices. That includes hotel loyalty programs. You can see this evolution in Las Vegas with the “play by TR” app from Caesars Entertainment.
The app was initially released as more of a brochure for Caesars properties with a small place for their players club, Total Rewards. The app has blossomed to be useful for loyalty and just about anything you could want at one of their hotels. In addition to basics like looking at hotel rooms, restaurants and entertainment you can view offers and use offers while viewing reward points and tier credits. Caesars learned that an app that may have been useful last year wouldn’t cut it with today and tomorrow’s customer.
Since being mobile is so important there must be ample outlets to charge devices in bars, restaurants and hotel rooms. You’re beginning to see this with USB outlets available everywhere from slot machines in the casino to lamps in hotel rooms. Expect this trend to continue as casinos and hotels renovate for these mobile customers.
While good wifi is expected everywhere in a casino-resort there’s greater demand for high-speed wifi in hotel rooms today. Millennials and most customers under 50 need to be able to stream music, Netflix, Skype, Instagram, etc. without delay of a mobile signal.
It should be very interesting to follow these changes over the next few years, on a number of levels.