Millennials can’t stay off social media and hotels are cashing in

teen smartphone
With a third of travelers refusing to book a hotel that doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi, there is a clear demand for travelers to be connected at all times.

New research from Hotels.com's global Mobile Travel Tracker has discovered the new millennial trend of “travel bragging” on social media to build kudos among their friends, and even faux friends on social. Trading in their #TravelBrag for "likes," 30 percent admit they spend more than four hours a day on their mobiles while traveling, often more glued to the small screen than the beach scene. And hotels are taking notice—just search for "hotel selfie" on Twitter and enough show up to keep you busy indefinitely.

Sixty-six percent of 18- to 29-year-olds saying they would rather upload a selfie than a picture with their loved ones (62 percent) while vacationing, the study found. In addition, 60 percent of the group admitted to uploading pictures, checking in at cool locations (39 percent) and tracking the amount of interaction on their posts (32 percent) for bragging purposes while on vacation.

Sharing pictures of food is popular among 44 percent of millennials. Fourteen percent said they would rather travel with a smartphone than with a romantic partner. Travelers said they get more anxious when their phone runs out of battery (15 percent) than if they argue with their partner on a trip (8 percent). 

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Hotels around the world are playing into the trend, from the Almyra Hotel in Cyprus's Christmas selfie challenge to a new all-in-one mobile phone app that allows hotel guests to check in by taking a selfie. Guests who take selfies at Max Brown Hotel in Amsterdam can even win a free stay at the hotel.

Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City took the trend to the next level with the Selfie in the City package: Guests who booked the package received daily breakfast for two, a map of New York City for exploring and a selfie stick to capture the fun. Guests were prompted to share their selfies on Instagram with the hashtag #HotelPennSelfie to be entered to win a future getaway. The campaign generated a 3,835-percent return and a 700-percent year-over-year increase in social media buzz, according to HeBS Digital.

“With a third of travelers refusing to book a hotel that doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi, there is a clear demand for travelers to be connected at all times,” said Daniel Craig, VP of mobile at Hotels.com brand, in a statement. “At Hotels.com we know that 28 percent of people wouldn’t enjoy their holiday without their smartphone in their hand—how could they possibly capture the best selfie or show off to their friends at home without it? Not only that, we also know that getting the perfect picture plays an even bigger role with 14 percent of travelers admitting they would pose anywhere for that flawless selfie, often putting selfies ahead of safety.” 

Many hotels are creating more "Instagrammable" spaces on the property as a means of promotion. Instagram boasts more than 400 million daily active users of which 50 percent make at least $50,000 annually. Hotels that want to interact with this hyper-engaged community of affluent users should step back and view their space through the lens of Instagram—or visual storytelling—and assess their level of innovation and inspiration from the consumer perspective.

A few months ago, the Sofitel Paris Baltimore hotel installed an immersive digital video wall, to create a perfectly integrated entertaining, informative and interactive welcome wall that was also an intuitive tool for visitors to engage with and hotel staff to easily manage and update—as well as a place for guests to take their all-important selfies.

Hotels.com commissioned One Poll to conduct the Mobile Travel Tracker research in November 2017 by surveying 9,000 respondents in 30 countries.

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