When it comes to running a business these days, you can’t afford to rely on time-tested marketing strategies alone, and never has updating those strategies become more important than with the surge of millennial-generation customers. The Pew Research Center identifies millennials, or young adults aged 18-35, as the largest generation ever in America. According to the consulting firm Accenture, this generation accounts for almost all purchases – from groceries to cars – as they settle down in their careers and begin having families of their own. Their spending power is estimated at approximately $600 billion per year.
At my business, the Bavarian Inn Lodge, we make a special effort to connect with the millennial generation among our own team and with our customers. Visit one of our manager/supervisor meetings and you’ll see that most of our management team falls into the millennial category. This is a huge advantage, providing us a different perspective to keep us informed and relevant.
Studies from Pew Research and others note that millennials tend to spend their money on unique experiences rather than material possessions. This trait dovetails nicely with our mission statement which is “to create enjoyable experiences.” We aim to give our guests a one-of-a-kind experience they can’t find anywhere else – exactly what millennials are seeking out.
Goldman Sachs notes that 57% of millennials go out of their way to compare prices and seek recommendations from family, friends, and the internet in their quest for “the deal.” Here at the Bavarian Inn Lodge, we offer a range of special packages for families and couples as well as special web deals, such as discounted rooms and other amenities. We also have special offers for our Perks Club loyalty members. These deals help our guests not only save money but also create their own unique experience before they even arrive.
Technology plays a key role in reaching out to this most connected generation. We are constantly increasing the use of technology to help us market to millennials. We consistently evaluate and update our social media messages and accounts to ensure that we’re connecting effectively with this media-savvy group of current, past, and potential new customers. As mentioned in my previous column, we’ve improved digital access to our Perks Club platform so that guests can manage their accounts right from their smartphones.
Millennials have a lot to offer the market, and gaining their valuable attention starts with simple and honest messaging that prioritizes memorable experiences and competitive prices. The Godman Sachs report says that 59% of millennials consider quality more important than price in gaining brand loyalty. Once businesses begin to discover this formula, they will have long-term customers with the most powerful generation we’ve ever seen.
Judy Zehnder Keller is president of the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Convention Center in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Nestled along the Cass River in one of Michigan’s top tourist locations – Frankenmuth – the Lodge has 360 European-themed guest rooms, including whirlpool and family suites, four indoor pools, three whirlpools, two water slides, a miniature golf course, two gift shops, two lounges and two restaurants — all under one roof. In addition to being president of the lodge, Judy is also president of the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus and the Frankenmuth Gift Shop. She is recognized statewide for her leadership in promoting tourism in Michigan.