Hotels are getting over the millennials and returning to basics, at last

It seems like millennia since hotel chains have been trying to tailor new ‘experiences’ that line up with carefully researched millennial leanings. Now, after many attempts to create more social shared spaces, new aesthetics to counter the old-school tastes of Boomers and Gen Xers, and other supposed innovations, we are seeing some new takes that ditch the millennial psychobabble and which really try to get at what is emerging as travelers’ real desires.
Hyatt has launched a new Centric line of hotels, which feels like a serious departure from the adjective-laden attempts to get at the psyche of business and leisure travelers, and which instead just gets out of the way. A brand video refers to guests as “Modern Explorers” and “wish-listers.” The ‘lounge-centric’ design reminds me of the Ace Hotel in NYC, where guests and locals interact in a library-inspired setting.
“We call them Modern Explorers because these are travelers who are very curious, very independent, and very time crunched,” says Kristine Rose, VP of brands, Hyatt. “They have a wish list and they really want to make the most out of all of their experiences and reasons for traveling.”
These travelers want to be in the center of the urban experience, to interact with locals: local people, local food, local attractions. The restaurant is called‘the Local Bar and Restaurant’ and will feature local dishes served up for the ‘casual foodie’.
I can attest to the attractiveness of the Centric concept to non-millennials, since I am a late Boomer, and the practicality of ‘the essentials done right’ combined with a deeply local orientation could be the definition of a cure for the experience I have regularly when traveling, even in luxury hotels.
At the other end of the spectrum, Hilton is also working away at trimming out the inessential, however in the new Tru hotels, they are cutting out business-oriented amenities like desks, and targeting the budget conscious leisure traveler.
As the company says, “Tru by Hilton is a category disrupter. It’s built on a belief that being cost conscious and having a great stay don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Tru focuses on what matters most to guests, with a hotel that is more than just a place to sleep, it’s a true travel experience.”
Hilton is running Tru as 100% franchise operation, with systems designed from the bottom up to cut operational costs, and leading to a $75-$90/night price point. This an effort to appeal to people that might otherwise turn to Airbnb for accommodations, but who’d really rather a no-frills hotel, so long as quality reaches some minimum.
So what is the deep trend? Modern travelers want no fuss, easy in-and-out hotels that meet some promise of quality at a price — at various tiers — but that appeal to their desire to explore the hotel’s locale rather than remaining cooped up private rooms or stodgy same-old-same-old eateries. A return to simplicity: a night’s stay and off you go!