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Generation Z - 5.5-inch lives

Generation Z – 5.5 inch lives

Much has been said and written about millennials, these ultra-connected and technology-savvy generation of people, but there’s a new generation of hotel guests that need to be catered for and that is the Generation Z.

If you thought millennials were complicated wait until a “Gen Z” comes into your property - this future generation is here, here to stay and as an industry we must get ready to cater for their needs.

So, who exactly are these people? There are many versions but I’d like to go with anyone born after 2001. We may be talking about teenagers who are not your current target market, but In the near future they will be, and they currently have a huge influence on their parents who they travel with.

So, what makes this generation of future travellers special? Many things, but if we were to do a high-level comparison with millennials it would be a case of “we need to enhance the technology for our millennial guests”, whilst for Gen Z “technology IS the experience” - they are the most connected, technological and social generation ever. They are also the most educated and have never experienced life without the internet and Google.

Gen Z use smartphones as a remote control but interestingly, only 4% use their device to actually “call” someone - yet 11% admit to using their phone in the shower! Other research shows that 70% watch over 3 hours of mobile video a day, 2 out of 3 purchase online, 64% say images seen online will influence product purchases and incredibly, 3 in 10 admit to texting people who they’re physically with!

Other stats show a different usage of technology. There are 41 million Facebook users in the UK who are 18+, for gen Z that number is just 1.8 million however 84% of teenagers in the UK are on Snapchat -  if you look at Snapchat’s global figures it’s incredible. 166 million daily users, 10 billion video views a day and 9000 shared photos per second -  all of this from a smartphone. We are moving into a mobile world. Avvio research states that as of august 2016, 44% of total web traffic comes from mobile; Hitwise research has shown that 60% of google searches are now done on a smartphone and crazily, WhatsApp handles 200 million voice messages a day.

Gen Z is growing up with robotics as a reality and voice recognition as a norm. Chatbots , AI and blockchain technology all will become common place and of course it’s all about the mobile phone, this is the generation that sees “Online as Oxygen”.

With all of these trends, numbers and stats, what does it mean for hoteliers?

First and foremost - the hotel Wi-Fi system. This has to be best in class, available throughout the property and fast enough to avoid buffering. Hoteliers should take advantage of the new 802.11 AC Wi-Fi norms. This technology utilises the 5 GHz band to provide much faster connectivity over previous versions. And in the future it’s not just about download speed (which for me should be 10 MB per guest) but also upload speed. From WhatsApp, dropbox saves to movie streaming, users are hungrier than ever for fast upload speeds - and don’t even think about asking them to pay for this!

In room connectivity will also be vital and power should be available throughout the room, ideally with 2.5 amp USB faceplates enabling faster charging to support tablets. Also the ability to connect devices to the in-room TV will increase and being able to watch Netflix on a big screen via your own device will be important. People have discussed allowing guests to sign in to personal accounts on a smart TV but security fears have so far discouraged this - technology such as miracast and Apple Airplay should be more prevalent in hotel rooms. As for how hotels will communicate to these guests, texting applications or in-room tablets will be the most widely used way for these people to stay in contact with a hotel.