It seems that everything is digital these days. We use our smart phones to keep in touch with the office by email or by phone. We text our friends to share a funny picture or update our status. Anything that is worthy of knowing can be found on the web. Just “Google it”! In the case of the ever present internet search, a good website is critical. Having been involved in academic research related to timeshare owners’ adoption of, familiarity with, and expectations of timeshare companies’ websites, it seemed fitting to take a look at the Millennial’s perspective of timeshare websites. It’s been heralded time and time again, that the Millennial generation is the next big consumer group to attract as they are larger and more influential than any previous generation; including the Baby Boomers.
Recently, a New York City creative agency, Noise, that has built a name for itself by being the agency for “engaging young people,” “social content creation” and “disruptive ideas” was commissioned by HotelChatter.com to develop a list of the top 10 directives for website development in order to attract the millennial generation. Hotel Chatter touts itself as being committed to covering everything associated with hotels and lodging around the world including reviews, deals, news and developments.
The full story entitled “The top 10 things every hotel website needs to have” can be found here:http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2014/5/8/164251/5199/hotels/10_Things_Every_Hotel_Website_Needs_to_Have_
According to Noise, the top 10 list includes:
1. Simplicity of navigation – it should be as effortless as possible.
2. Show Off Your Neighborhood – everything that makes your neighborhood unique is who you are.
3. Show Your Guests’ ‘Grams’ – the most interesting images of hotels are shot by guests.
4. Photos, Photos and More Photos – let the visuals drive the guest experience on the web.
5. Be Service-Oriented – subtle parallax scrolling and minor animations help elevate the experience.
6. Accessible From Any Device – have a tablet and mobile friendly product.
7. Have a Flexible CMS (Content Management System) – to stay current and error free.
8. Is a Polite Sell – you want to make purchasing easy.
9. It’s Ok to Scroll – not everything needs to be crammed at the top of the page.
10. Speak to Your Guests, Not All Guests – stand out and do not try to be everything for everyone
Using the top 10 list as a guideline, 400 millenials who were enrolled in a Hospitality Management degree curriculum at a leading university in the United States rated 15 timeshare company websites during the first six months of the 2014 calendar year. The students were asked to rate their level of agreement with the timeshare websites conforming to the above 10 website directives on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 was “Strongly Disagree” and 5 was “Strongly Agree.”
The results are generally optimistic for the timeshare industry, but point to issues related to mobile compatibility. On the affirmative side, millennials generally rated the timeshare websites positively. The components with which they agreed or strongly agreed were simplicity of navigation, accessibility from a computer, current and error free content, and scrolling to avoid cramped content. The millennial customers were neutral on their evaluations of photography, service orientation, accessibility from mobile devices, ease of purchasing/renting, and customization to a target audience. On the positive side, however, the millennial customer did not feel as though the websites were geared to other guests that did not include them. They had a slightly favorable rating towards the timeshare resort websites being relevant to anyone, regardless of age, family status, income, etc.
The survey participants were primarily millennials, born between 1978 and 1998 with a small percentage (4%) being born after 1998. The majority of the participants were females (75%), with a smaller percentage being male (25%). The overwhelming majority (93%) of the participants were not married. All of the respondents reported that they had some input in to the vacation decision process for their household with 43% reporting that the decisions are solely up to them.
Additional information related to this research and other millennial focused research at the University of Central Florida should be directed to Amy Gregory. Dr. Gregory recently authored a series of articles on technology adoption by timeshare companies and customers. She has recently expanded her research to include future customers of the timeshare industry.