Planners should suggest dining choices and free-time activities, but be aware.
Gen-Yers revel in discovering exceptional,
less-publicized restaurants, nightclubs,
events and attractions.
“Information is at their fingertips, and
they’re constantly reading review sites
for the latest information on hotels and
restaurants,” said Peter Kacheris, managing
director of Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando,
a luxury resort complex that encompasses
Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlan-
do Bonnet Creek. “They thoroughly enjoy
finding interesting restaurants and special
hotels with the connectivity and amenities
Millennials are also adventurous, he added.
“They enjoy trying new types of cuisine,
beers and wine that have a local flair they
can talk about on social media with their
co-workers and friends,” Kacheris said.
While Gen-Yers certainly like lounging
at a luxurious, comfortable, expansive
hotel lobby, sipping a latte and surfing the
Web, they also crave action-oriented group
activities. Bicycle tours, kayak excursions,
high-tech scavenger hunts, hiking, surfing
lessons and art and cooking classes are
some popular options with their age group.
At hotels and resorts, Gen-Yers are
increasingly venturing outside for classic
lawn games as a way to combat technology
overload and to temporarily escape from
their computers and tablets, though mobile
phones rarely leave their side.
Among the various lawn games prevalent with Millennials are corn hole toss,
glow-in-the-dark games, bocce ball and
life-size tic-tac-toe and chess.
Millennials often stereotype hotel food as
expensive and not worth the price, according to Parisi.
“If there are other options close by, hotels really have to work to prove their food
can compete with the hip, eclectic tastes of
this audience,” she said.
As a group, Millennials are the most an-
alyzed generation ever, with countless sur-
veys and statistical reports about what they
like. However, there are certain things they
typically don’t like, especially at hotels.
Parisi said most Gen-Yers could care less
about a mini bar, pillow chocolates, turn-
down service, old-school coffee makers,
iPod docking stations, overpriced room
service, unimaginative room service menus
and newspapers in front of their door.
What Millennials do crave, she said, is “a
24-hour fitness center they would actually
want to work out in, group fitness classes,
organized social activities, opportunities
for community such as evening social
hours, communal tables, fire pits, outdoor
verandas, charging stations, free Wi-Fi,
nearby attractions and complimentary
Kacheris said hotels that lag in high-tech
elements will quickly discover they must
update to attract and please the Millennial
“Things like mobile check-in, texting
communication with guests, digital signage,
tweet walls and charging stations, not just in
the lobby, but everywhere on the property,
are extremely important to Millennials,”
Kacheris said. “They practically live in
lobbies and love to socialize there. Great
lobbies with lots of plug-ins, comfortable
chairs and couches, a sleek bar and coffee
bar are hugely attractive to them.”
The hotel sports bar is a popular gather-
ing spot for Gen-Yers who enjoy watching
sports events as a group rather than alone
in their room.
“They’re not that far removed from
college and they grew up with ESPN and
all the other sports networks, so they’re
very keen on following their favorite teams
in a place where there are lots of screens
and choices,” Netzhammer said. “The food
and beverage menu has to be appealing,
too, with lots of craft beer selections and
creative appetizer and small plate choices.”
“When our hotel managers would go out
to dinners with them, they felt overdressed,
and their appearance made the Millennials
uncomfortable,” said George Aquino, vice
president of AHC+Hospitality, which owns
and operates two hotels in Grand Rapids,
Mich.: Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and JW
Marriott Grand Rapids. “Our managers
stopped wearing suits and dressed more
casually, and we’ve had great feedback
from our guests about that subtle but im-
Millennials are obsessed with food. They grew up watching the Food Network, celebrity chefs and a dizzying array of cooking shows.
Not surprisingly, the food boards on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are the most popular with
Millennials, also known as Gen-Yers. In the digital era,
food brings people together online and is a topic for fun
interaction during incentive programs.
“Millennials are foodies,” said Kelly Parisi, solutions
department senior manager for Spear One, a Dallas-based meeting and incentive company. “They crave
unique dining experiences, especially those with local
fare. They want to know more about their food, where it
came from, how it was grown, if it’s in season and what
health benefits come from each item.
Millennials view food as self-expression and want lots
of opportunities for customization,” she added.
Simply put, most Gen-Yers are adventurous diners
who want to feel connected to their food and destination
with things such as farm-fresh ingredients, sustainable
practices and creative menus with local flair.
“Sustainable practices and farm-to-table are incredibly popular trends,” Parisi said. “Anything you can do to
help the attendee feel more immersed in the local culture and foster a sense of place is appealing to them.”
Millennials cherish their grandparents, but they don’t
want to follow their three-full-meals-a-day tradition.
They want to continue eating like they do at home
with smaller meals throughout the day dominated by
healthy options, Parisi said.
Superfoods like blueber-ries, chia seeds, kale, walnuts, avocados, cauliflower,
steel-cut oats and quinoa
are popular Millennial
choices. In addition, providing gluten-free and dairy
-free options is imperative
for their age group.
“Millennials like to
put a slight twist on just
about any food, too,” said
Fabrice Benezit, executive
Bonnet Creek Resort. “For
instance, they’ll opt for pret-
zel buns instead of regular
hamburger buns or waffles
instead of bread for a ham and cheese sandwich.”
Parisi said Millennials enjoy combining convenience
“They want to maximize their time, and they appreciate small plate dinners, food trucks, sushi bars,
smoothie stations and coffee bars,” she said.
Other popular food events with Millennials include
small group dine-arounds, chef-hosted dinners,
receptions with a variety of ethnic food stations, healthy
grab-and-go meals, cooking classes and wine and beer
tastings hosted by local brewers and winemakers.
—Edward Schmidt Jr.