Are we trying too hard to dazzle Millenials?

Whether we’d like to admit it or not, Millennial travellers are fundamentally influencing hospitality interiors and pushing the boundaries of what a typical guest experience should feel like. With picture-perfect travel as a brief, interior designers are now challenged to create spaces that are insta-worthy, filled with quirky design features, have hip and cool common areas, and yet offer the basics such as an efficient check-in, a clean and comfortable room and a quality service.

A recent study by Internet Marketing Inc. found that 97% of Millennials will post on social media while traveling, with three-quarters posting once a day. In fact, Generation Y would most likely choose a picture-perfect room they can share on social media over saving money on a cheaper room, according to data from mobile travel app HotelTonight.

They are also looking for opportunities to explore lesser-known destinations and hotel with “a story behind it”.

Promoted as “a stunning vacation with a past”, Pablo Escobar’s former mansion in the Mexican resort Tulum, has been transformed into a five-star boutique hotel, and is now taking Instagram by the storm (#pabloescobarmansion). An art collector from New York, Lio Malca, has completely renovated the villa into a 35-room property filled with quirky and contemporary artwork.

But, I feel we ought to ask – are hotels now trying too hard to dazzle Millennials?

This was one of the issues we addressed at the recently held “The Future of Hotel Design” roundtable. We talked to independent and hotel group architects and interior designers about the latest in hotel design in the region.

Dubai-based design studio, Stickman Tribe, recently completed Hotel Jen Beijing Hotel, a lifestyle brand launched by Shangri-La. Its principal and founder Marcos Cain gave us a better understanding of how Generation Y is actually affecting the design process by saying that the concept of a Millennial is an evolution, and isn’t fixed. “We did a full study five years ago on Millennials for a hotel chain. With Millennials, it comes down to the fact they’re trying to do multiple tasks at multiple times, and we’re trying to create multiple pockets of revenue for operators, so we can utilise the space to create different moments within.”

Cameron McPherson, the director of design MEA at IHG, argued that in reality, there’s no such thing as a Millennial. “It doesn’t matter what age group you come from, your expectations are changing. With young people, we expect they want everything faster. But, they don’t want everything faster, they want it right, they want it correct.”

Furthermore, Patrick Bean, design director at Lacasa Architects and Engineering Consultants, also elaborated on why it’s becoming a lot more difficult for hotels to give that ‘wow’ factor. “We’ve become a much more world-aware market. We travel a lot more, and we get to experience things that we haven’t had a chance to before.”

Looking at the figures, the GCC hotels sector project value expected to be completed by the end of this year is worth $9,513m, which is an increase of $8,240m in 2016. The latest report by Ventures ME prepared for 201 Index exhibition, further shows that the UAE ($4,058m) is likely to lead in the expected projects to be completed in 2017 followed by KSA ($3,327m).

Dubai and Abu Dhabi will continue to lead in hotel construction across the UAE. In the hotel’s sector, a further 28,900 rooms are predicted to be delivered in Dubai over the next two years as capacity expands in the run-up to the event.

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