The media has portrayed millennials as tech-hungry consumers, looking for adventures, and posting everything on social media.

Many hotel brands have put out their own apps, but this doesn’t mean Millennials will trust it.

Here’s some proof.

Millennials are the largest demographic in the US. By 2020 they will reach nearly 50% of all business travel spending. Many hotel brands are adding new features and services to reach this demographic. But most of them aren’t doing a great job.

We decided to figure out what is going on and how to solve the problem. For this research we focused on the act of booking a room.

Irrelevant or Attractive?

We tested 13 hotel app features,

Our target were US Millennials 25-35 years of age, both Android and iOS users. The goal was to discover which features they find attractive, and which ones they find irrelevant or frustrating.

We had one-on_one sessions with users and used the Kano Analysis method to measure satisfaction and functionality. We used satisfaction values based on non-direct questions to determine how desirable each specific feature is.

What We Discovered

It turned out that Millennials perceived that hotel content are untrustworthy. They think produced videos, city guides, inspiration images, even deals are there with the only objective to sell more of what they don’t want to buy. Besides ease of use, trust is a fundamental importance to them.

Top Irrelevant Features

They are,

  1. Loyalty Programs
  2. 360 Video Tours
  3. Chatbot Assistants

Loyalty Programs

Over 71% of users found this feature totally irrelevant.

They think this kind of programs are targeted only to rich old men.

I don’t really care about collecting loyalty points for hotel chains.

How to increase customer loyalty in the Travel Industry.

360 Video Tours

Around 46% of users found this feature irrelevant.

Over 28% found this feature frustrating.

But 26% said it could be attractive if they were not so heavy and slow to watch.

I’m fine with images and reviews. That is more trustworthy than some mentally perfect video produced by the hotel.

Chatbot Assistants

Approximately 80% of users said that chatbots they’ve tried were not accurate or fast enough.

They thought the technology is not there yet. They still want to talk to a real person.

I think it takes more time talking to a chatbot than talking to a human.

Most Attractive Features

Convenience is way more attractive to Millennials than “techie” features.

The top 3 most attractive features are,

  1. Frontdesk Live Chat
  2. Mobile Check-in and Check-out
  3. Virtual Room Key

Frontdesk Live Chat

Around 87% of users found this feature attractive.

Some users said it could be helpful to have a touchpad in the room rather than using their own phone.

I will definitely use this feature. It would be nice to not have to search for that old book that the housekeeper always puts in the wrong spot. I would hope that I could order food from here too.

Mobile Check-in and Check-out

Over 75% of users said they found this useful and would love to try it their next stay.

I have used it only for flights, but will be super great if I’m checking out earlier. Waiting in-line is just not what I want.

Virtual Room Key

Approximately 57% of users would like to use this feature. Although, 28% think their mobile battery life will be a barrier.

I’m excited to use this feature, seems convenient and eco friendly.

It is important to note that the people in our research had not used this feature.

How to Create Trust

Based on the findings from our study, we want to share with you three insights we believe are key to build trust for your customers.

1. Create a Personal Connection.

Users often do their own research when planning a trip. What they are looking is not deals or nice hotels. They are looking for a personal connection, they want to see where are other people traveling.

To plan any travel, I would typically look at lonely planet, travel blogs, youtube videos. Im looking for a personal connection, not something generic as city guides

Highlight your guest reviews, that was the most trusted feature. A good practice is ask your guests left reviews when they check-out, maybe giving them an incentive or reward. That will avoid that only people with complains left reviews.

2. Show Experiences, Not just rooms.

Millennials want new experiences when they travel. Standard, Same, Typical, Generic are words they want to avoid. They are also not interested in luxury. They want cozy affordable room near their travel activities.

I look for hidden gems and not typical attractions when I travel””All I need is a cozy bed and a clean bathroom

Airbnb is the only one doing something about this fact, selling local experiences. This does not mean you actually have to do the same but somehow showing what other customers had experienced near your hotel would be attractive to know.

3. Build Payment Features.

Although we did not test any payment feature, 57% of users expressed frustration of not knowing extra charges and unexpected fees while booking a room.

I think a lot of travel apps often focus on the fun part , discovery, activities, inspiration. But what actually matters is what happen at the end. How much am I paying on top of just the booking fee?

Hotel brands should be focusing on features to report users how much is their bill so far, transparent extra charges, option to split costs between guests. Users never know that total until the check-out.

User Research Saves Time and Money

Hopefully, this data will help you and your team to understand the evolving Millennial mind and how to create trust with this demographics.

User research is a quick and inexpensive way to make data-driven decisions. It doesn’t take as much time as people think and it is definitely cheaper than writing code.

Using user research your hotel brand will deliver mobile experiences everyone can trust and enjoy.

Learn More About Millenia’s’ Need for Hotel Apps

If you’d like to know more about this topic, be sure to see our webinar “Understanding Millennial needs in Hospitality Apps.” We go over our research insights in more detail, including examples of what features to use to attract more users to your hospitality app.

If you have any questions, drop me a line at dgutierrez@nearsoft.com.