Thursday, February 26, 2015

Millennial Mountain Must-Haves

Millennials enjoying a fondue lunch at Gstaad's Restaurant Eggli - Copyright: Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus
A click of a mouse, the scroll of a finger, the press of a button – this is how Millennials have grown up and how they now conduct business, reservations, purchasing, communication and social transactions. Increasingly, marketers have been turning their attention away from Baby Boomers and towards gratifying the instantaneous needs of the Now Generation.

There are currently around 79 million Millennials in North America – that’s three million more than Baby Boomers who are predicted to dwindle to just 58 million by 2030. Otherwise known as Generation Y, they were born between 1980 and 1999, children of the Digital Age. While the younger component is still financially dependent on parents, older Millennials are at peak purchasing power and an ideal target market for ski resorts. So what are the keys to attracting, satisfying and retaining this demanding demographic?

Gstaad skiing - Copyright: Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus
Here are a few Mountain Must-Haves for Millennials:
- Free Wi-Fi throughout ski hill
- Social and wired areas in lodges and in ski hotel lobbies
- High tech, cellphone-friendly websites
- Apps to replace traditional ski maps, ski info
- Real time reporting and responding
- Trustworthy peer reviews
Automated check in/out at ski accommodation and automated bill paying
- Automated, smart card lift passes for ease of purchase and use
- Smart technology and plentiful power outlets in lodges, hotels, bedrooms
- Cool factor at the hill – unique, emotional component, age-appropriate freebies
- Social responsibility programs at hill, après ski venues and hotels
- Pod hotels – reducing hotel costs in order to have a larger budget for more active vacation experiences

Social media, online reviewing and apps are mainstays of Millennial choice-making. Around 40 percent of Millennials are likely to share travel experiences during their trip and 34 percent will disperse details via social media on their return. Likewise, they use peer reviews, checking on average 10.2 sources, before booking. This is a vast resource of feedback that hotels and destinations can harness for their own marketing purposes. 

The village of Saanen, Gstaad - Copyright: Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus
One Swiss resort which has responded to this high tech trend is Gstaad, particularly in regard to apps. Visitors can benefit from up to date information from many different sources including iGstaad App for Android, iSKI Swiss, Skiresort.de, Snocountry, Skitude, myswitzerland, Skiline, Schee & Mehr. Gstaad’s piste map is interactive and Pistenbericht gives a daily updated snow report, slope report, weather and web cams.

Gstaad at night - Copyright: Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus
Gstaad is also active on social media. Their Facebook tagged Gstaad – come up, slow down” is updated daily and they have a strong presence on Instagram and Twitter. Gstaad incorporated a responsive design into their website - www.gstaad.ch - which is compatible with every gadget, smartphone and computer. They are also able to track users. “During last year (2014) 64.02 percent of the users were desktop-users, 19.15 percent mobile users and 16.83 percent tablet-users,” says Antje Buchs, Project Manager Public Relations for Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus. “Thanks to the responsive design, it is also possible to book hotels and apartments with smartphones.”

Restaurant Eggli - Copyright: Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus
Despite their reliance on online communication, Millennials are actually more sociable offline than previous generations – so long as technology is close at hand. With such constant access to images of social activity, they are subject to the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) phenomenon. Around 58 percent prefer to travel with friends: that’s 20 percent more than other demographic groups. Free Wi-Fi around the slopes of Gstaad in social spots such as the Eggli, Rellerli, Saanerslochgrat and Wispile mountain restaurants means that digital devotees can relax in between runs and socialize while still keeping in touch online.

Peak to Peak Suspension Bridge - Copyright: Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus
Wow factors for Gstaad include the chance to visit the world’s first peak-to-peak suspension bridge, Peak Walk. Spanning 107m, with spectacular mountain views, the bridge starts at the top of View Point on Glacier 3000 and finishes at Scex Rouge peak. Glacier 300 also gives Gstaad the longest ski season in the area.

Fondueland Gstaad - Copyright: Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus
While every Alpine resort offers fondue evenings, Gstaad has gone a step further with Fondueland. Here guests enjoy fondue while sitting in one of two giant wooden fondue-pots which each seat up to eight people. The specially designated huts are open year round and accessible by foot, bike, sledge or snowshoes. Catering to Millennial music mania, Gstaad’s Ride on Music is a three-day festival with a mix of hiphop, street, rock and folk music, with satellite events on the slopes by day and in town by night.

Snowshoeing at Gstaad - Copyright: Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus
The Superpass satisfies another ‘Millennial Must-Have’: value for money. It covers three ski areas with one ticket, encompassing 188 lifts and 630km of skiing. Although Gstaad is by no means a cheap ski resort, it prides itself on making skiing accessible to youth and families. And youth lift ticket rates have been extended up to the age of 23. The resort also has several affordable lodging options including Saanewald Lodge, Spitzhorn, Hamilton Lodge and a new youth hostel in the nearby community of Saanen which was incidentally dubbed by actress, Julie Andrews as “the last paradise in a crazy world.”


Alpine authenticity at Gstaad - Copyright: Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus
Environmental sustainability is an important issue for Millennials, who have grown up with recycling and the notion of reducing environmental footprints. In this respect, Sustainable Gstaad has various ongoing ecological projects including traditional alpine farming, hydro-electric power stations, a central hotel laundry, and green fuel for piste equipment.

Gstaad groomers - Copyright: Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus

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