Differences and similarities in tech use across age groups

Technology, as we all know, is everywhere. How it is used, however, can differ among age groups. To learn more about the ways everyone from millennials to baby boomers uses technology at hotels, we reached out to Hotel Management’s Thirty Under 30 class of 2015. The responses we received revealed that the hotel industry is seeing both similarities and differences in technology use among age groups, and that this presents it with both challenges and opportunities.


One difference observed related to hotel guests’ use of their own technology versus that offered by their host hotels. Omari Head, associate, Paramount Lodging Advisors, said: “All demographics are using technology at hotels. However, Generations Y and Z import their own, including tablets and other mobile devices, and share their travel experiences via social media with their friends. Those in Generation Y also want to be able to plug their phones into a room and stream TV and music. Boomers and Generation X engage with the technology already present, with less importing of technology, and are primarily interested in Wi-Fi and flight-status boards. All generations want technology that improves and expedites service.”


There is also a broad range of technology being used by hotel guests or clients. Emily Wilson, senior associate, asset management, CHMWarnick, said: “All generations are using multiple devices. This puts pressure on a hotel’s Wi-Fi system and is causing many brands to move toward two or three tiers of access. All ages are using devices to stream entertainment, so they are more willing to pay a premium for faster service, and more young people are using mobile check-in. A new technology I have heard some buzz about: virtual-reality goggles. One hotel has loaded images of its meeting space and ballrooms onto the Samsung version and allows clients to wear the goggles on site tours to visualize a space in different formations.”

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The reason hotel guests use technology can vary, too. Binita Patel, VP, HMB Management, Inc., said: “Millennials are more likely to use technology to make their stay more comfortable utilizing mobile applications (like HelloTel and Starwood’s SPG Keyless), while baby boomers usually prefer to use it for convenience (like ordering in-room dining and Hilton’s digital check-in/room-selection feature). Every hotel guest likes a seamless check-in and check-out process. Millennials and baby boomers tend to prefer mobile check-out when available and utilize in-room technology (like lighting/temperature controls and Wi-Fi). Millennials tend to be earlier adopters of technology and are willing to keep trying new things, even if they don’t work the first time. Baby boomers may get frustrated when technology doesn’t work and are typically unlikely to try it again.”


But everyone appears to be interested in some of the same things. Caroline Michaud, VP, corporate communications and public relations, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, said: “Today’s tech-savvy traveler isn’t confined to one age demographic. Travelers across every demographic segment want to be connected and secure. Millennials, matures and boomers are all used to using multiple devices and having uninterrupted connectivity during their travels. They expect strong Internet access and the ability to charge their various electronic devices simultaneously. Further, the industry is seeing increased interest across all of these demographics in the ability to use their own devices as in-room entertainment, which brings an expectation to be able to seamlessly live-stream games, videos, etc.”

Simplicity and effectiveness

Connectivity and security are not the only technology-related interests among hotel guests of any age. Sunny Desai, president & CEO, Desai Hotel Group, said: “Younger generations are more apt to use services like Twitter to access concierge and to stream Netflix on guestroom TV. Older generations seem to adapt to technology only after it becomes widespread. They are less likely to try technology, unless it is absolutely necessary. This can be tricky, because older generations may give bad reviews to hotels that they perceive as having too much technology. Both generations like technology that is simple and effective or improves on past technology. The best example is RFID locks. What’s easier than waving a card in front of a door? The younger generation values being connected, so it is a necessity in a hotel stay. The older generations can go without being connected for extended periods of time, so it’s not as important for a stay.”