Hoteliers and restaurateurs estimate that a third of their annual revenue now comes from the millennial generation, according to new research.
In a report, ‘Finding the balance: human touch vs high tech’, international law firm CMS showed millennials – people who reached adulthood in the early 21st Century – were spending 26% of their total income on holidays and eating out. On average they go on 2.5 weeks holiday a year and eat out at a restaurant four times a month.
Research, conducted by FTI Consulting on behalf of CMS in May 2018 surveyed owners, operators, investors and managers of hotels and restaurants in 10 countries worldwide on the effect of the millennial generation on their industry. The research also surveyed 5,000 millennials in 18 countries.
Some 90% of respondents said they believed that their businesses were underestimating millennial expectations of the hospitality sector, whereas 83% said there was a rush to ensure that they are future-proofing their businesses.
When millennials select a hotel or restaurant, just 4% consider the technology available at a venue as important while 38% of respondents said traditional elements such as cost and location (17%), ranked higher when dining out or holidaying.
In restaurants, the technological improvement most wanted by millennial respondents is the ability to order food and drinks before arriving (47%), paying via an app (44%) and ordering food electronically at the venue (34%).
In response to these desires, 52% of restaurateurs have implemented technology to allow food and drink ordering in advance of arrival and 39% let customers pay their bill online or through an app. Some 28% of restaurateurs intend to implement an interactive e-menu that shows food selections in 3D and nearly a quarter (23%) expect to introduce the option of dining with a virtual companion via an interactive screen, which fits with 20% of millennials thinking this would improve their experience.
However, 76% of millennials still prefer the human touch throughout their dining experience. They also place significant value on originality, with 53% rating a ‘new experience’ as an important feature when choosing a place to eat.
When asked what types of technologies would improve their dining experience, globally only 16% were positive about 3D virtual entertainment. By contrast, 28% of restaurants expect to implement 3D virtual entertainment in their restaurants within five years.
Reviews appeared to have a significant effect on dining decisions as 25% of millennials said they would consider paying more at a restaurant if the social media ratings are excellent.
Thomas Page, head of hotels and leisure at CMS, said: “With such a large percentage of their income now coming from the millennial generation, restaurant groups and restaurateurs need to ensure they are futureproofing their businesses now to cope with their desires and demands.
“The tech savvy nature of the millennial group and their loyalty to a brand is of huge significance to the future of the industry and they must continue to adapt and to evolve to meet these new challenges.”