Holiday Inn Express just killed all the Baby Boomers

Millennials Love Automation At Hotels

Here’s an article from Fast Company on the redesign of Holiday Inn Express hotels (only in Europe for now // more on that in a second); the article is kind of odd and written in a coy, flirty way where it almost seems like the author wants you to penetrate the words. (“In a short, busy week of testing, Ideo observed all sorts of pain points in the hotel experience—sometimes leading to adjustments the designers hacked together in real time…”) I got chills reading it for all the wrong reasons, not to mention it reminded me of this whole thing about Radisson hotels redesigning for the millennials. (They’re coming.)

The thing that always gets me with these hotel redesigns and the corresponding articles about them is that the big parent company does all this testing, and then finds out really basic stuff that we mostly knew about young travelers anyway:

  • They like simplicity (Everyone does; that’s how good companies make money)
  • They want to control the experience (i.e. Netflix from their iPad, not from the TV log-on screen)
  • They don’t really use the full desk
  • People like working from the bed

Kinda makes you wonder how much money goes into corporate research, no?

In the end, you get a hotel room looking like this:

Holiday Inn Express Redesign

And guess what?!? There’s automation. You can check-in from an app!

Let me tell y’all something: my wife works for this investment bank, right? And frequently she has to help some Boomer-aged guys book travel, right? These guys could give three and a half fucks about the slope of the goddamn chair. They want it to be (a) near their meetings, (b) near a bar/restaurant, and (c) not super-far from the airport. That’s it. It could be a goddamn war bunker with a functioning TV, a full-sized bed and a charger for your phone/computer and they’d be happy. Enough of this stuff with the perfect trapezoidal table. These guys are on the road slaying dragons, goddamn it! (And expensing drinks.)

So when you see hotels, especially hotels with business dudes staying Sunday-Thursday, start shifting to this model above, well … if you thought Leno to Fallon was the official Boomer-to-X-or-Millennial transition, nay. NAY. It’s happening right here in the hotel sector. Remember: business travel is essentially a trillion-dollar industry. You can look at Holiday Inn Express and be like “BHAHAHAHAHA, THAT’S A JOKE!!” but in reality, they’re interacting with more people in a given week (as a brand) than you are posting your sponsored content on Facebook (news flash: 14 people saw that). These hotels are where the rubber meets the road all week around America. And oh, as for America…

These rooms above are available only in Europe now, but there’s a “focus group” or some shit working on U.S. rooms, and here’s the quote on it.

Grantham wouldn’t tip the firm’s hand on what U.S. rooms would look like just yet, but he teased that Europeans and Americans were different in at least one way: Guests there still crave a person-to-person experience when they arrive at a hotel, so the hotel provides it (though guests can also check in with an app). Americans, on the other hand, are a lot more comfortable with automation. “That guest is more on an extreme,” Grantham says. “‘I just want to be able to press buttons that will fly me through.’”


/ ** throws self down stairs


Ted Bauer