HTI: African millennials expect a personalised customer experience

In fact, they demand it! And if they are not getting it, they will move their business elsewhere.


Because millennials have more information available at their fingertips than ever before, they demand the highest levels of service from companies they support.

As a result, if the entire business travel ecosystem can be completely seamless and mobile-friendly, the millennial traveller experience will be greatly improved.

African millennials want bespoke products that meet their unique needs

In the same way that they want to feel personally important to the business they are supporting, African millennials prefer to support brands that emphasise unique offerings.

With the wealth of information they make available about themselves, their values and preferences online and through social media, they expect accommodation and hotel brands to not only know what they want, but to provide it.

And the results of a bespoke approach speak for themselves: brands that create personalised experiences see revenue increase by 6 to 10%.

African millennials are loyal – but you have to earn it

Research by Accenture indicates that millennials differ significantly from other generations when it comes to the concept of loyalty – and South African and other African customers differ even further.

For instance, 88% of South Africans are loyal to brands that protect their private information, whilst 67% are loyal to those that give them hotel offerings that have arguably been the most responsive to the millennial lifestyle. Key to this is offering fitness options like in-room equipment or access to a local gym, as well as healthy grab-and-go food choices.

So too, frequent traveller cards and hotel rewards programmes allow millennials to acquire points whenever they travel or make purchases abroad. These points can then be redeemed for rewards or other special offers.

Social connection is key

Fast and instantaneous internet connectivity is an expectation of this digital generation. Many hotel chains now offer mobile check-in, digital room keys, in-room iPhone docks, and digital assistants. Facebook has even allowed businesses like KLM and Hyatt to use its Messenger to interact with customers.

But millennial business travellers also value the ability to physically connect with others and hotels can respond by revamping reclusive business centre cubbies and sterile conference rooms into collaborative workspaces that foster creativity among colleagues. Lobbies with table-tennis tables, casual seating niches and rooftop happy hours can offer places for socialisation and relaxation.

Location is paramount

You’ve heard location is the most important feature of real estate and millennials agree. A hotel in a fashionable neighbourhood, with walkability or having a shuttle service to local points of interest will win a millennial business traveller’s approval over one without those features.

Among other things, we’re seeing this generation also turning business trips into experiences and preferring self-booking.

Feeling valued: millennials love business trips

This is a generation who want to feel valued. They want to have new opportunities and not feel stuck in the same environment every day.

It’s a very different mentality from previous generations that see business travel as a necessity rather than a perk, and are more concerned about leaving their families behind. Most millennials don’t have the same family commitments or ties yet. Younger business travellers definitely want to explore more and when they go on a business trip, the chances are they’ll likely want to extend it.

Millennials DO care about serious matters

A recent survey on respondents aged between 17 and 35 in seven African countries show strong evidence of interest in civic engagement, public affairs and politics among the African youth. A poll by GeoPoll in 2017 among a similar demographic in five African countries showed this age group’s concerns regarding levels of corruption, youth unemployment and distribution of national resources.

This can be seen in movements and campaigns such as #BringBackOurGirls, #FeesMustFall, and #DataMustFall among others. African millennial travellers take an interest in the economic and social environments of the countries they travel to.

One thing is certain, the unique habits and expectations of the increasingly important millennial generation will continue to shape both the global and African travel industry for many years to come. It will be exciting to see how the industry embraces technology and innovative thinking to serve them in the future.