Future Friday: Workforce of the future does not like unattractive and non-innovative

HR departments can take lessons from the luxury hotel industry in attracting Millennials.

All industries are dealing with the issues surrounding attracting and retaining Millennials. One industry in particular provides us with clues to issues that may be applicable to all industries.

Old and unattractive

The hotel industry, specifically the luxury hotel industry, is facing a challenge of attracting and retaining millennial customers. According to Carlos Martin-Rios and Veronique Pelouard, writing in Hotelier, “Luxury hotels need to develop innovative strategies to become attractive to the younger, affluent generation – and younger consumers in general.” Further they say “A great majority of our sample of over 200 participants considers traditional luxury hotels as non-innovative, unattractive and old-fashioned establishments.” Hotels who once thought they could attract people with innovative technology, such a  WiFi, find it is no longer a game changer. Hotels that charge for WiFi especially find it to be a turn-off for a generation of guests that expect WiFi to be a constant. Even I find that to be an issue in staying in hotels. As the authors say:

Our study shows that having the latest technological hardware does not generate any real competitive advantage, as technology is considered by Millennials to be part of their “normal” life and is therefore not extraordinary. In the eyes of Millennials, innovative solutions for traditional luxury hotels would include, for example, an ephemeral food and beverage concept or renovations to make the hotel and its operations more sustainable. Being perceived as “old-fashioned” is a real no-no for the majority of Millennials interviewed, who overwhelmingly define themselves as a generation of trend-setters/followers.

Unique and innovative

According to the study, Millennial travelers are looking for “…unique and customized experiences, even if it is to fulfill a hedonistic desire – share experiences on social media.” The authors say that forward thinking hotels today are addressing this issue in three ways.
First, the hotels are developing work systems that that stress “friendliness, accessibility and availability instead of distant formality. The goal is to allow employees to spend more time engaging with guests and providing personalized services.”
Secondly, hotels are becoming “boundaryless”, which means they are incorporating the local culture and “vibe” of the community into the hotel. They are becoming more public spaces that allow “exclusive events and activities related to the local culture take place and where trendy, local food and beverage concepts and pop-up concepts can emerge.”
Thirdly, they are offering service that “..revolves around ultra-personalization with an offer of a wide variety of exclusive, non-standard, local products, refined goods and services that show true taste and respect.”

Employee experience

Numerous articles appear weekly about the “employee experience” and how important it is to attract and retain workers of all ages, especially Millennials. You can take a lesson from the luxury hotel industry.

  • Is your upper management team accessible and available or are they maintaining a distant formality?
  • Does the company provide interaction with the local community?
  • Do you provide some public space for the community to interact with employees, such as a market or a venue for the local school to hold a play?
  • Lastly what are you doing to truly personalize the employee’s experience?

In HR we have a tendency to be “fair and equal”, but this is now a time to be personal and unique. How can we reconcile that?
You might be able to take lessons from your own industry or company. What are you doing to attract and retain new customers? Some of those things might work for employees as well.
The future of your company might well depend on this!

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