Nicole Tj
January 17, 2022

5 Creative Guest Experience Ideas For Hotels To Win Gen Zs and Millennials in 2022

In the era of Airbnbs, living like a local has become embedded in the travel mindset - and none more deeply than in Gen Zs and Millennials who favor cool, new neighborhoods, experiences and places. The FOMO is real.

Our poll of 728 travelers between 20-35 revealed that 90% were more likely to choose boutique, independent hotels over big chain hotels. Of course it’s hard to say no to a good discount deal - but beyond slashing prices and selling the key amenities of the room, how do you cut through the noise and make an impression? Well, the biggest turn offs are anything cookie cutter. But we promise it’s not rocket science to win over the hearts and minds (and booking nights) of Gen Z and millennial travelers. All it takes is a bit of personal touch, a dash of the unexpected, and a lean towards local.

Even if you’ve got your guest experience down to a tee - there’s no better time than now to give something new a test run. Here are 5 creative guest experience ideas to help you shake things up.

1. Design a Welcome Pack for the season

Personal note and s'mores welcome pack
Photo by @melrwhite

Inspiration by: Scribner’s Lodge

We love this Welcome Pack by Scribner’s Lodge - a cozy 36-room stay in the Catskills, 2.5 hours away from New York City. In line with their rustic experience focused on the local community, their welcome pack is perfect for Winter Getaways - with a personal touch in a handwritten note, printed Guide to the Catskill Mountains, and individually packed S’mores kit ready to go!

How to re-create this for your stay?

  • Leave a personal note. If you’re a smaller stay, you might be able to leave handwritten notes for each new guests. But if that’s not practical, perhaps you could try something designed with a handwritten font or on branded paper that lets your brand’s personality shine.
  • Add 1-2 more items to a welcome pack. Tip: This should be a subtle gesture - but unexpected delight is where you win your points! Whether a complimentary drink or snack on arrival, or a personalised local area paperback guide.

2. Give guests a tote [or something they can use on their trip]

Tote bag by the pool
Photo by @chloesachdev 

Inspiration by: The Sunseeker Byron Bay

Go beyond something that ‘looks cute’ or consumable - to provide guests with something that is also actually useful. We love this bold tote by 80’s nostalgia inspired Aussie motel, The Sunseeker Byron Bay - which is also available for sale on their shop.

How to re-create this?

  • Totes your thing? You could design your own totes to keep on brand, or partner with tote brand that you and your guests would fancy. You might want to check out the new line of travel totes designed by our team at Travis - eco-friendly, lightweight, and irresistibly cute. Partner with us to surprise your guests with a travel tote, or request for a free sample to touch this yourself.
  • Beyond totes? Consider other items that might be of low incremental cost to you, but deliver maximum delight for your guests. This could be as simple as a complimentary bottled drink, well-designed re-usable bottle [for day trips and hikes], or selfie sticks like Kimpton Hotels (yep, you read that right)!

3. Showcase local businesses and makers in your Stay

Photo by @silverlakepoolandinn

Inspiration by: Silverlake Pool & Inn, by Palisociety

Guess what. Nothing turns us millennials and Gen Zs off more than seeing generic Cadburys and Cokes in the bar / fridge / pantry. On the flip side, win easy brownie points by tugging on our individualistic, hipster heartstrings by showcasing local businesses and makers we would never have known about. Novel = Memorable. We love Silverlake Pool & Inn’s curation here: 

How to re-create this?

  • Find local businesses and makers who could supply your most popular in-room items. Gin and cocktails, breakfast and snacks, toiletries, sunscreen, and more! Don’t forget to get feedback from your guests if they’re well-received.
  • Choose product brands that are aligned to your’s for maximum collab impact. Are they quirky and bold? Or calming and wellness focused? Do they have a commitment to sustainable practices?

4. Offer Free Bikes [Or Other Extended Experiences]

Two bikes in a resort
Photo by @alsacehotella

Inspiration by: Alsace Hotel, Los Angeles

If we were to hedge a guess, we’d say that majority of your guests are willing to try something different in their getaway with you. After all, they’ve taken the time to escape their everyday! Cycling around the local neighborhood, or going winery-hopping on an eco-bike tour (depending on where you are located, of course) is something that sounds achievable and approachable. The hardest part of it? Finding a bike! Take a leaf out of Alsace Hotel’s book - with free bikes provided to guests in partnership with a local business, making it easy for them to explore the historical West Adams neighborhood on wheels.

How to re-create this?

  • Are you located in a bike-friendly area? If so, this might be an idea for you! Depending on how many bikes you might need, you could partner with a local bike hire or tour company, or even purchase your own (and customise them to compliment your brand colors, too)!
  • Want something other than bikes? Think about other extended experiences you could offer your guests. 

5. Walkabout Guides for Different Types of Travelers

Photo by Kinship Landing

Inspiration by: Kinship Landing

There’s nothing more real and exciting for anyone in a new place, than the aha! moment of finding something genuinely cool that ‘only the locals know’ about. (Also, nothing more frustrating than walking out of a hotel and not knowing whether turning right or left would lead you to a better chance of finding the right places to go to.) So, imagine if you (i.e. your hotel/accommodation) could be the source of local recommendations - that was especially curated for certain types of travelers, trips, and times of year. We love that Kinship Landing has curations for those who want to Get Outdoors, Sip and Slurp, or even hang out with your Four-Legged best friend.

How to re-create this?

  • Curate guides: Describe 2-3 of your key guests and what they look for in their stay with you. List out 10-15 places or local businesses that you would recommend to each of them. Make sure to update them for seasonal guides and special occasions, and amplify reach by highlighting on your website, blog and booking emails too.
  • Looking for a more fun, interactive way to share walkabout guides? Travis has a Digital Guest Guides tool to help independent hotels and stays of all sizes easily curate visual digital guides. Your guests can access these through emails or QR codes, save your recommendations and start building their own trip on the same platform too. Get started with a 14-day free trial, or book in a 20-min intro chat to find out how this could work for you.

Let’s get ready to win over Gen Z & millennial travelers in 2022!

We hope these 5 ideas got your creative juices flowing and we’re here cheering you on.

In the meantime, we would love to chat if Travis is able to partner with your hotel to create a memorable guest experience for your millennial and Gen Z guests, through 1) our Digital Guest Guides, or 2) Travel Tote Bags. 

We’re always on the lookout for novel, quirky and creative guest experience ideas so please share with us if your hotel or accommodation is doing something that deserves to be showcased. 

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