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Are These the Hotels of the Future?

The Millennial travel revolution is continuing, and inspiring the hotels of the future…

According to Mintel, 82% of Millennials went on a vacation in the last year, compared to 75% of all U.S. consumers—and these young travelers want the opposite of what their parents looked for in a hotel. Marriott International reports that Boomers “wanted familiarity, safety, and comfort,” while the next generation of travelers “want local and unique.” The brand predicts that Millennials could make up half of their guests by 2020—if they are able to appeal to them. The Millennial travel revolution—which we’ve been covering for some time—has inspired many hotels to change to meet their preferences.  

To attract these Airbnb-loving super-travelers, hotels chains are creating new youth-focused brands, infusing design with local flavors to avoid a “cookie-cutter” experience, and focusing on unique service and offerings. The New York Times reports that traditional hotel chains are targeting young travelers through “customized experiences, digital convenience, and relevant information on social media,” and are viewing them “more as explorers than tourists.” Apart from offering free Wi-Fi, hotels are offering emoji room service, local craft beverage events, and music-related loyalty programs. Creative agency Blitz recently revealed that 84% of Millennial travelers would plan trips based on someone else’s social media pictures and updates, and that these younger travelers are more likely to follow travel brands on social media, and will choose hotels for their “Instagram-worthy” décor.

These preferences and travel quirks are creating new breeds of hotels, from spaces inspired by hostels to locations focused completely on innovation and feedback. Here are five examples of what the hotels of the future could look like: 


Zoku says they have “expanded the definition of a hotel,” and the result is a living space built to appeal to the modern working traveler. The rooms at Zoku are actually open-space lofts, with plenty of convertible details to maximize the space—like a retractable staircase. Instead of making the bed the room’s focal point, the sleeping area is lofted, and a kitchen table is the real center of the room. Everything at Zoku is geared toward socialization—Business Insider calls it “a combination between Airbnb and a WeWork coworking space.” The lofts are sparse, and guests are given access to social spaces as “an extension” of their room, like a “buzzing Bar, a chill Living Room, a Living Kitchen, Communal Working Spaces, Green Spaces and tailored retail.” Zoku is currently open in Amsterdam, but plans to expand internationally soon and open 50 new locations within the next ten years.

2. JO&JOE:

AccorHotel’s new Millennial spin-off brand JO&JOE is all about “disrupt[ing] traditional notions of hotel keeping.” Expected to go global by 2020, the new hotels will be built in non-conventional spaces like “old industrial buildings or warehouses,” and aims to attract young travelers with an “open house” concept that “blends the best of private rental, hostel and hotel formats.” Accommodation types range from sharable sleeping areas, private apartments, hammocks, yurts, and caravans. The locations will also aspire to draw in young locals, with events that encourage social interactions, street-visible bars, restaurants, and cheap one-night rates.


Marriott has created an Innovation Lab Hotel to test concepts designed with Millennial and teen travelers in mind. Throughout their stay at the feedback-focused property, hotel guests can provide thoughts on features like digital check-in with instant-review technology, which allows them to give a thumbs up or thumbs down at every step. Concepts currently being featured at the hotel—like studio workout classes taught by local instructors and permanent spaces for local restaurants and businesses—were inspired by past feedback from Marriott visitors that showed young travelers desire unique, local, and social experiences.


Millennials’ desire for unique experiences is driving investors to put their money into hostels. Poised to be “one of the biggest travel trends of the next decade,” more affordable shared spaces that don’t fit the traditional hotel molds have become the accommodation of choice for young consumers, who are looking for authenticity and “photo-worthy opportunities.” Big name investors are putting large sums of money on the line to get in on the market, including one billionaire who raised $250 million to open hostels in the U.S. The popularity of the hostel model is inspiring Hilton into creating their own “hostel-like” concept. The brand’s CEO tells Bloomberg, “There’s potential for something that has more of an urban flair, more of a micro-hotel. We haven’t made a decision to do anything in that space, but it’s certainly one of the things we’ve been exploring.” The new brand would reportedly cost less and provide fewer services, and appeal directly to young travelers.


According to Ypulse research, 82% of 13-33-year-olds would rather stay at a hotel chain that reflects local culture and design than one that looks the same in every city. 21c is a chain of boutique hotels that caters directly to this desire. Each location is built in a restored historic building in cities throughout the Midwest. The brand tells Adweek, “When we design them,we’re responding to those historic buildings, and their former uses, and that ensures that each hotel will be unique.” That unique approach includes an art museum on the first floor, and partnership with local museums, mixologists, and more to provide, “a cultural experience in addition to a lodging experience.”

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here