Hovercrafts, Free Ice Cream, and Floors for Fun

Hovercrafts, Free Ice Cream, and Floors for Fun

Earlier this month Residence Inn by Marriott invited some kids to a roundtable on what they want for their hotel experiences. Some of it is just kid stuff that they may grow out of—though those hovercrafts and floors devoted to fun still sound like great ideas to me—but some of it they may well retain a desire for when teenage angst is in the rearview mirror. It boils down to providing experiences that are:

Customizable: Robot butlers and microwaves that will serve  you whatever you want, the ability to change wall color with a click (love that idea!), being able to pick which amenities they want to have in the room ahead of time, and beds that can be preadjusted for light and heavy sleepers (an alarm pillow—what could possibly go wrong?) and for mattress firmness...I'm down with all of these.

And once these tykes-turned-tycoons head to the meeting, I'm guessing they'll also want an customizable experience, whether it be seating that fits their mood and comfort needs (want this desperately!), or education that is tailored to exactly what they're looking to find out, or menus that offer more than one alternative. We're already seeing the desire for a more customized, bespoke experience that speaks to who individual attendees are rather than a mass cookie-cutter deal. I think it's safe to say to expect this trend to mushroom in the near future.

Connected to emotions: These were kids, so it was all about making and sharing memories with their families, but we all long for meaning and emotional connection, even—or maybe especially—in our work. As Jeff Hurt would say, "Strong emotional hooks ... lead to increased satisfaction." And better learning.

Fun to get to: Oh these poor, deluded kids, thinking that traveling in the future will be all flying cars and jetpacks. I hope they're right, but just in my lifetime travel has gone from kind of fun to anti-fun. I hope their vision of the future of travel ends up becoming reality, instead of the slide into incivility, sneak-up fees, crowded conditions, and lines, lines, lines we currently have.

We mostly just camped when I was a kid, so my expectations accommodation-wise were more along the lines of flush toilets and nearness to a body of water of some kind to swim in (water slides also made the kids' list, so that hasn't changed), but tomorrow's conference-goers have higher expectations. And you know what? Their parents do too.

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