How hospitality needs to adapt to attract a generation - Part 1

We hear a lot said about millennial's, but despite them being a hugely influential and affluent market many businesses still shoot wide of the mark when catering to this segment.

Millennial's or Generation Y as they are also referred to, derive from the generation born in the early 1980’s to the late 90’s and grew up in a time of fast-paced change and opportunity.

It’s widely reported that by 2020 around 50% of money spent within the travel sector will come from the millennial generation. It is therefore paramount that businesses such as hotels and restaurants that serve this sector adapt to this generations wants and needs.

In my opinion, these are areas that restaurants and hospitality businesses need to adapt to in order to attract this market into their respective businesses.


The internet has provided a platform of information available readily with a few taps of the keyboard and clicks of the mouse, and even that is becoming antiquated as you can just ask Siri or Alexa for the answers to many questions. It is, therefore, no surprise that millennial's thrive on information, it is almost as if they want to know everything about a place or subject even before they have visited. Practically gone are the days of buying the guidebook from the airport just before you board the plane to quickly cram up on the main attractions and places to eat, which may be outdated by the time it went to print. Millennials will rely on peer reviews, travel sites, blogs, vlogs and any other authentic sources they can muster. On average they will review 10.2 sources before booking. So, you need to be on top of your game, have an understanding of what is out there about your business and not just on the sources or media you control.

If you have a restaurant, hotel, B&B, holiday let, or café and customers have visited you then, without doubt, you will feature on third-party review sites. Don’t bury your head in the sand and ignore what people are saying about your business, engage with them and ensure across all media you are consistent with your message and branding; this is what sets you apart from your competition.

Understandably with so many outlets that may potentially feature your business, with you knowingly or not, it is vital that you focus on the main avenues and steer your customers towards these for maximum exposure and control. Encouraging your customers to talk about your business is a good thing, even if sometimes they may leave what you believe to be a negative it provides you with an opportunity to improve your business and your customers or potential customers to have a balanced view and understanding of your business. Think about it if you only have 5-star reviews and it just appears that your business is perfect in every way what happens when you don’t meet this expectation? Reviews create the expectation. Consumers aren’t stupid, so don’t treat them as if they are, realise that they will form the opinion on your business from a variety of sources and in my mind, this can only be a good thing!


How unique is your experience? Restaurant closures have plagued 2018, retailers failing and businesses moaning about the ‘disruptors’. Everything has been blamed for these failures, everything except possibly the reasons why they have happened. Today’s consumer knows what they want and won’t settle for less. The millennial generation is the driving force behind this and what they crave is ‘unique experiences’. They want to feel as if they are the only ones that have ever eaten in your restaurant, tried your food, received the exceptional service you have delivered. So serving the same old pasta dishes, pizzas or burgers ensures you position yourself firmly in the category of same old boring and not exciting unique! While I appreciate businesses are successfully serving these products, they don’t necessarily thrive and are more steady eddy.

This millennial need for unique experiences is demonstrated in the global rise of companies such as Airbnb and Deliveroo, they have suddenly provided opportunities for people to create memories which before weren’t accessible. A few years ago, booking a night away in a tree-house in the middle of a forest would have seemed ridiculous, now you can even book a nights stay on the edge of a cliff or have dinner dangling 100ft in the air from a crane looking over a city skyline! Consumers are almost goading providers to be more extreme in their offerings, but ultimately for this generation, it is providing the ‘unique fix’ they crave.


In today's hospitality businesses it is vital that technology is high on the list of priorities, access to technology is of high importance to the millennial generation. But beware if you think offering free Wifi is the solution you may as well close up shop. Free Wifi is a given; it should be standard like a bed in a hotel room or a table and chair to sit on in a restaurant and needs to be high-speed. You need to be thinking along the lines of accessible plugs, USB points, wireless charging points, an app for booking services while staying or ordering room service, providing areas that are conducive to working and now is the time to start integrating smart technology, just ask Alexa or Siri.

The future is now...

Now, this is where I drop a bit of a bombshell… If you aren’t up to speed with millennial's, you are already a generation behind, millennial's are NOW, however, hot on their heels is Generation Z, the digital native. If you aren’t prepared for millennial's, you have no chance with Gen Z! This generation is coming of age and will over the next few years become the dominant market, but we will talk about them more another time.

Good luck and please share your business successes or views on my Facebook page OutSauced Consultancy

Jonathan Butler is the Author of Business Recipes for Success: Four Steps to Building a Successful Restaurant and Hospitality Business available now on Amazon

More About Jon

An award-winning chef, hotelier, restaurateur, and author Jon has over 27 years experience in the hospitality industry. Having successfully operated his own businesses as well as helped many others to grow theirs. He launched OutSauced Consultancy in 2010, and since then, has helped a number of start-ups, entrepreneurs and SME’s within the hospitality sector, become more efficient, customer-oriented and profitable.

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JON BUTLER - OutSauced Consultancy

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