Garrick Lee, Digital Marketing and Ecommerce Manager, Oneida Nation Enterprises, HSMAI Rising Marketing Leader Council
Two recent reports from Skift and McKinsey highlighted that Gen Z is predicted to make up a third of global spending power by 2035. If this generation is left overlooked, hotel brands will potentially lose market share once this generation ramps up in their spending power. Hoteliers need to begin to find opportunities to begin to weave the fabric of their brand DNA into the Gen Z audience in order to create brand loyalists in the future. I brought this research to the HSMAI Rising Marketing Leader Council to talk about how we are marketing to Gen Z.
Top Three Tips for Marketing to Gen Z
1. Focus on experiences that have the twist of CSR values: Gen Z is looking for unique and immersive experiences when they travel. Sell and/or showcase experiences that will allow a guest to authentically connect with the local community with a twist of sustainability, heritage, etc. For example, if a property is a near a beach there can be a page on their website highlighting the experiences at property, but also feature organizations that host beach clean ups. Another example being a lei making class for a hotel in Hawaii to share insights into the Hawaiian culture and the significance of flower leis. Finding a hotels connection to a community and crafting an experience around it will grab the attention of Gen Z.
2. Utilize unconventional social media platforms: Social media is a crucial part of any marketing strategy when targeting Gen Z. Utilize traditional platforms like Instagram and TikTok to showcase stunning visuals, videos, and promotional offers to capture their attention. Then, push the envelope with unconventional platforms such as Reddit and messenger apps to like Whatsapp to show up where Gen Z is.
3. Be authentic and capitalize on guest engagement: Gen Z values authenticity, and it’s essential to create marketing initiatives and messaging that feel real and genuine. Consider shifting away from hiring photoshoot models and instead featuring real people in your campaigns to connect intentionally and authentically with this demographic. Tapping into guests whether it is in the form of using them as models, or leveraging their user generated content in marketing is another great way to drive brand loyalty.
One interesting point that came out of the discussion is how generational preferences can blend across generations. So, while everyone (including us!) talks about late millennials and Gen Zers prioritizing experiences, many in the group mentioned they were seeing an increase Boomers spending time and money on experiences as well. Finding ways to capture the attention of Gen Z through marketing may have some generational crossover benefits as well.