Reaching the Generation X : The 3rd Hump in Your Generational Marketing

By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | May 05, 2010

Tiger Woods is one of us; so is Venus Williams. Our generation includes the Spice Girls, N'Sync, Friends, and the Brat Pack. We have Richard Gere, and his Pretty Women, Julia Roberts. We are the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and residents of Melrose Place. And yes, we must also claim Desperate Housewives and Paris Hilton. We are the members of Generation X and we are one TV Nation. Not the first group of Americans to grow up on TV, we are the first group for whom TV served as a regularly scheduled baby-sitter. We were the first to experience MTV and the Fox network and we are still an audience many marketers are eager to reach. But we are also the most media-savvy generation ever.

Often stereotyped as white, middle-class, college-educated suburbanites, the reality is that we are extremely diverse. Most of us grew up after the Civil Rights and gay rights movements and in the beginning throws of Hispanic and Asian immigration. And while we all may not have supported these movements, we are certainly more understanding and tolerant than previous generations.

Born between 1965 and 1985, we number about 50 million. We were often latch-key kids marked by divorce, single parents. Crack cocaine, AIDS and missing children on milk cartons were part of our everyday experiences. And while we cheered the Cold War end and the fall of the Berlin Wall, we became disillusioned with Watergate and other institutional scandals.

In this article, one of a four-part series on generational marketing in your hotel, we look at the third "hump" of your property's four-humped guest camel - The Generation X (Gen X). A Xer himself, Canadian writer Douglas Coupland has said Generation X is not a chronological age but a way of looking at the world. There may be more truth than fiction in this statement. Defined by diversity, today's 20- and 30-somethings are cynical and skeptical of traditions and institutions (including hotel brands). Having grown up at a time of broken promises, they are street-smart and ad-savvy. Xers can smell hype a mile away and have to be convinced in a Missouri-type way of "show me". Their expectations have been tempered by disillusionment and they realize that work will be a difficult challenge. They are, after all, a dearth in the population curve that follows the massive Boomer cohort. But at the same time, they are more educated, have more lifestyle options, are entrepreneurial in nature, and need rewards as a balance in their active, hectic lives.

So what products and programs can your hotel offer that will be in sync with the values of this generation? Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.