Spring 2019

Listen Up Hoteliers: The Trouble With Teenagers

Fox PR’s Creative Director Ashley Pearson offers insight into successfully navigating the trickiest niche of all.

By Ashley Pearson

Adolescence is undeniably hard on parents – but it’s also hard on hoteliers. Teens are a notoriously difficult-to-please audience and more often than not, hotels are missing out on a rather lucrative opportunity.

After all, it goes without saying that this demographic might be challenging to target – but they are increasingly influential in both the holiday decision-making process as well as the lingering impression a place leaves behind. Let’s be honest, if they hate it, they will certainly let that be known. And no-one in the family, none, will escape with fond memories intact.

With the summer holidays fast approaching, hoteliers would be well served to come up with new ways to attract and appease this large demographic. And while there are a host of properties out that have spent enormous resources and given great thought to ways in which to delight small children and their families, it’s the parents left agonising over how it will appeal to their adolescent.

Sailing at Santiburi Koh Samui
Sailing at Santiburi Koh Samui

First thing – Know Your Audience.

A recent report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) says that “37.3 percent of UK 15-year-olds use the internet for over six hours a day.” Attracting teens with a strong Wi-Fi signal is a no brainer – but it’s not enough. Teens today are bombarded with enticing images on Instagram and Snapchat of their friends having the time of their lives on vacation, in addition to MailOnline’s near-live documentation of reality stars posing poolside at some of the world’s most exclusive hotels – all airbrushed and edited to the nth degree. So you can pretty much count on the fact that expectations are high.

Here are some things you can do to up your teen appeal.

Lean in to Social Media

Rather than viewing the internet and social media as a distraction to your plethora of resort offerings, and a rival to a good time, lean in. Offering ‘Insta-tours’ is a good place to start. Enlisting a member of staff to take teens around the most Instagrammable (read show-off-able) spots on the resort’s property is one option – but why not show them the local sights as well? An Insta-city or island tour is sure to grab attention from teens eager for social media bragging rights (which by the way is all of them). The best sights, the best angles, the best time of day to shoot them and of course plenty of selfie sticks at the ready.

The Teen Club 2.0

Sitting around a pool all day is boring for most teens and you need more than a fully loaded kids’ club to survive. One size does not fit all. Having a teen club that looks cool enough to attract your target audience is a game changer though. Think pool tables, a self-serve ice cream machine, a projector screen TV, a VR headset, retro jukebox (with up to date music installed), karaoke machine, air hockey, and yes, dare I say it, an Xbox and PlayStation.

Consider retro games like pinball and Pac Man, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong, which are back in style, big time. And provide plenty of electronic outlets and charging points for the devices they will undoubtedly come armed with. Furniture that takes a beating (easily washable/wipeable) will prevent housekeeping from having a complete meltdown. Give them a bank of computers to look at, too – unless you want them annoying everyone in the business centre.

FOMO

Teens, like a lot of travellers, want something special to talk about when they get home. So whether it’s extreme water sports, swimming with exotic animals, a water slide or a climbing wall, a spinning class in a disco, any sort of adrenaline-filled, action-focused activity will appeal. If you don’t have the facilities on-site then offer to take them to something special locally.

Paddleboarding at Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi
Paddleboarding at Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi

Full Steam Ahead

For teens, positive feedback comes from high-speed Wi-Fi and streaming services, not the spa and the food. Make sure teens have access to in-room satellite TV and movie channels, as well as high-speed Wi-Fi so they can easily stream films.

And lastly, whilst it may not be necessary to do all of these, any smart hotelier will at least do a bit of research. Ask your teen guests to fill out an online form with feedback about what they liked and didn’t like at your property. Offer them an Amazon or Nike gift card as a thank you.

When all is said and done your commitment is to everyone who stays with you. All guests are equally important to please. And for too long this group has gone unnoticed with too little thought given to figuring out what would most appeal. And after all, although they may be difficult or even maddening at times – they most certainly do count.

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