Hit or Miss? Courtyard by Marriott targets Millennial travelers – but alienates other generations!

The hotel chain, Courtyard by Marriott, forgot the number one rule of generational marketing: Don’t alienate other generations when trying to better target one particular generation!

Courtyard by Marriott went after Millennial travelers – big time – and made dramatic changes to its brand to better fit in with their values, attitudes, and lifestyles.

A Miss:

  • Millennials have been team-taught, team-graded, and participated in team sports all their young lives.  They like to socialize and work in groups, not squirreled away in a hotel room.  Marriott Courtyard’s new “Bistro Lobbies” have pod seating to encourage group work and socializing.
  • Gen Xers – a generation of individuals – prefer a bit more privacy and a little less “pod” when they travel.   Note the strong comments at the end of an article describing the changes.

Some Hits:

  • Both “Millennial travelers” and “Gen X travelers” want something different, something authentic, that they can text their friends about.  Here are examples from various CMs:  local potato chips and beer in the minibar, local artwork on the walls, a Swedish deejay spinning on the hotel’s rooftop bar, and current information about a local underground wine bar with a secret entrance :-).
  • Both generations are digital.  CM’s free wifi can be a dealmaker with Millennials and Xers.

Generational marketing is about nuances – about attracting a new generation of travelers while keeping your loyal customers.  A site called “Marriott Courtyard Insiders” asked for comments on the changes.  My favorite responses:  “I’m somewhere between no and Hell NO” and “Decisions made at the top seldom involve us who use the item being changed.”