Do millennials even care about sustainability at their hotel?

|In Hotels

The short answer: Yes.

But with some constraints. It’s a grey area, so let’s try to color it a little more black and white. To understand millennial attitudes towards sustainability, especially when it comes to booking a hotel, it’s key to understand the reasoning. Why do they care? Why should they?

Two small words that represent something very big and very scary: climate change. Millennials care about sustainability because they just can’t risk ignoring it anymore. With straws becoming the enemy overnight, NASA making efforts to inform and educate, and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports constantly being updated, climate change has become a huge topic of conversation in mass media. Many feel a wave of guilt every time they forget their reusable grocery bags, spit their gum out onto the sidewalk, or – wait for it – use an illegal plastic straw. We’re honestly shuddering thinking about it. 

Why does climate change loom so heavy on millennials as a generation? Well if we’re being blunt, it’s because they’re the ones who will actually be alive to deal with the consequences (sorry, grandma).

So we know they care, we know they feel guilty doing unsustainable things, and we know why. But there’s still a disconnect in what millennials are saying and what they’re doing. Why aren't they putting their money where their mouth is?

The reasons are not all that hypocritical. We swear.

Let’s start with what they’re saying:

  • Millennial buyers were more willing to pay for products and services from companies who were committed to positive social and environmental impacts: from 55% in 2014 to 72% in 2015. 
  • 87% of millennials would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental causes.
  • More than 9 in 10 millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause.

Great. That’s all fine and dandy.

Here’s the thing: millennials love sustainability, they love supporting responsible companies, and we love them for it. But they won’t go out of their way to do it. At the end of the day, they won’t sacrifice convenience or value for sustainability – and that logic applies to booking a hotel. 

A study compared 5 purchasing influences. Here are the top 3 factors that effected whether or not millennials will bite:

  • Ease of purchase: it has to be convenient (95%)
  • Price and value: there has to be a bang for their buck (95%)
  • Uniqueness: it has to be different (92%)

When you throw that all together, add a pinch of salt, and let it simmer for an hour, you'll get the magic potion that makes millenials buy into sustainability when booking a hotel: make it easy to book, offer solid services and amenities at a reasonable price, and make it unique. The first two are pretty straightforward, so let’s carve out that last one.

Uniqueness can sound vague, all-encompassing, and subjective. It sounds like it could mean anything.

But it doesn’t.

'Unique' means that millennials are looking to buy into experiences when booking a hotel

  • 78% of millennials say they would choose to spend money on an experience over buying something.

They want something authentic. Something cultured. Something local. Something that’ll make them reconsider the way they thought the world worked. That means integrating sustainability into the hotel's whole guest experience so that it feels second-nature. Taking a holistic approach is key.

Think combining luxury with sustainability through on-site organic farm-to-table restaurants.

Think integrating it into the hotel's architecture with natural elements like curvature, wood, greenery, and natural lighting pouring through large windows.

Think energy-saving lights, appliances, and insulation to reduce your hotel’s carbon footprint.

Think replacing traditionally unsustainable amenities with their green counterparts. Many hotels are switching from printed newspapers and magazines, to digital platforms like PressReader that deliver a seamless reading experience to guests – right on their own devices. Not only are hotels saving operating costs, but they're making the planet a better place. How's that for social responsibility? 

Don't forget to tell millennials you’re doing all of this at your hotel

Explain the what: sustainability.

And explain the why: caring for our planet matters.

Because most millennials won’t take the time to do their homework and dig through your brand’s corporate values. Remember that convenience is key. Millennials expect businesses to make it loud and clear that they align themselves with social and economic sustainability. Hotels can advertise their brand values in places millenials hang out – mainly online. Does your hotel have an Instagram? Put it in your bio. A website? Make sure corporate values are front and center. And of course, make it clear at the property so it's one of the first things they see when they arrive. 

Scream it proudly from the rooftops.


To learn how to make your hotel more sustainable, talk to a member of our team. 


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