Executive meetings can be intense and uninspiring. To liven things up, we have a tradition at BON Hotels EXCO meetings for each member to have a turn to present to the committee a ground-breaking emerging industry trend that they have identified and researched. One of the emerging trends of these meetings is the strong focus our team has on catering for “Generation Y” or Millennials, as they are also labelled. It is an intriguing generation, one that has me researching their travel needs and expectations.
We have all taken heed of the mobile generation and adapted our tools to service them, but these Millennials have a different attitude to travel, they want to see the world and in doing so, have things waxed. For example, they don’t like booking through 3rd party booking portals or call centres, preferring to go directly to the hotel and have no qualms in negotiating rates. The design and furnishing of a hotel must be functional and useful, but it must be cool and trendy too. Free Wi-Fi is a no-brainer and these guys are looking for things like “plug and meet” areas with ergonomic seating and screens for presentations. The type of food and beverage offering must be convenient and healthy; old-fashioned offerings such as room service and mini-bars are considered a rip-off. More importantly, their hotel and meal experience has to be a fun one.
The first South African hotel that targeted the younger generation and did it well was Protea’s Fire and Ice – a great concept that was embraced by the young and hip of that time, but one that requires re-looking at and BON Hotels intend to do just that. Citizen M in the United Kingdom and Europe’s Generator have set the international benchmark in these “designer and upmarket budget hotels”, importantly creating an experience for their clients that includes events, live music, travel and food experiences and, in turn, the fashioning of a loyal community for their brand.
Those EXCO meetings have inspired us all at BON Hotels and we will be immersing our efforts into our BON Hotels Generation Y concept of upmarket backpackers for these very cool tourists. Being students of our industry and staying up to speed with hospitality trends, our team is gung-ho. We have earmarked a site close to a landmark Cape Town tourist hotspot and are in the process of establishing whether this site will be suitable for this particular model. Essentially, old CBD office blocks are a definite opportunity for conversion and we will endeavour to pioneer this concept into built-up areas in and around South Africa.