How Millennials are Changing the Hospitality Industry

Let's talk Millennials: Who exactly are they, what makes them tick, and what has been their role in reinventing the hospitality industry as a whole? In this article, we outline what their consumer behaviours look like, what their work ethic entails, and what you can expect from this generation in terms of careers and how to manage them in the workplace.  


Although the exact years are somewhat of a grey area, generally speaking, millennials are categorised as those being born between years 1980 and 1996. The millennial population is incredibly significant as they officially make up the largest generation in the workforce - hospitality or otherwise.

Given the global financial state in which Millennials were born into, they have less financial stability because of the trauma of the recession. Unlike previous generations, millennials can expect to be working past the typical age of retirement that the baby boomers saw, for instance. Moreover, they are destined to have more financial struggle than the generations before them. 

Read on to discover how Millennials behave as consumers, what kind of workers they are, and what this means when you're employing them. Beyond that, we will also profile what to expect in terms of behaviour and how to manage them since it's shifted dramatically from generations before.

A better understanding of Millennial behaviour is essential not only to engage them as your consumers but to enhance their abilities as employees to deliver positive work for your business, resulting in residual growth and success. Read on to keep ahead of the changing industry of hospitality.

Millennials as consumers


The first thing to note in terms of Millennial consumer behaviour is how they value their time. Millennials spend their time much differently than previous generations, which has resulted in a shift. Rather than taking it slow with meals in the morning, for example, Millennials prefer on-the-go products with minimal clean-up such as yoghurt and fast-food breakfast sandwiches. Therefore, Millennials have been responsible for a significant drop in cereal sales according to the independent. This generation also values spending their money on experiences such as travel and eating out rather than material things such as clothing or investing in property.

Speaking of time, millennials tend to spend theirs with as much independence as possible. Meaning, the largest percentage of the working population choose to be as independent as they can in terms of managing their time and their money. For example, Millennials don't tend to trust financial institutions and rarely visit banks. Alternatively, they choose to have more freedom by online banking and using third-party transfer services when possible, for example.

How Millennials are Changing the Hospitality Industry 

Large Institutions

Millennials tend to stray away from large institutions or big corporations such as chain restaurants and department stores. They are more likely to spend their money on an experience (travel, eating out) rather than material items (clothing, shoes) and are happy if they can save money buying through private labels directly, which has resulted in the decline of department stores' success.

Millennials also opt for specialised gym-boutiques rather than traditional gyms to stay fit. Ultimately, millennials are after consuming on their own terms with freedom. This “instinctive population” doesn’t want to be tied down. 



Just because millennials are looking for more freedom as consumers, this doesn't mean that they aren't loyal with their purchases. As consumers, Millennials want to be acknowledged and rewarded for their loyalty to you (the venue). This represents a great opportunity for hospitality operators to incorporate loyalty into their service offering and pursue personalised and targeted engagements with guests.


Millennials as workers

Millennials' consumer behaviours also provide insight into how they work. Given the unstable financial climate that they were born into, it makes sense that Millennials seek a good work-life balance, a meaningful job, and want to feel happy at work, otherwise they are likely to switch to another position.

Based on statistics alone, Millennials are more likely to struggle with depression, anxiety, and mental health in general than previous generations. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Millennials are driven by connection when it comes to their work. They want to feel fulfilled at work and know that when they come into their shift that each day their job has meaning. Contrary to popular opinion, Millennials aren't necessarily entitled and lazy; they're just more particular and purposeful when they commit to a given position.



So what does this mean for employing millennials?

Given the behaviours and trends surrounding Millennials outlined above, the workforce has similarly evolved. Aside from finding the right staff for your operation, the trick with the current workforce is to retain the staff that actually care. These are the ones that can be developed or who inspired by their superiors to become hospitality leaders. 

The hospitality industry has changed, but there's no need to panic - you should just be adapting to keep ahead of the curve for maximum growth for your business. So how should you prioritise this?

The bottom line: Place value and invest in your staff. Placing value in your staff will, in turn, help you in combatting the top three headaches facing Sydney venues today:

  • Low employee engagement and high turnover
  • Lack of skilled candidates
  • Maintaining compliance surrounding wages and payroll functions

Millennials have just as much energy and drive as previous generations. However, it takes a different angle to tap into their full capabilities. Being open with your staff, providing as much flexibility when it comes to work-life balance, providing constant feedback and promoting open communication along with placing value in your company's unique culture is what will keep Millennials switched on. 

Looking for ways to improve your HR, manage your team, and ultimately retain your hospitality staff? Download our top five must-have templates and plans below, all for free.

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About the author Carlyn Shaw

Drawing on 12 years of hospitality experience and coming from a Communications background, I am passionate about all things hospitality.


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