For leisure travellers, each of the major urban destinations in Europe has assets linked to its heritage, history and geographic location... But what offers, concepts and positioning with regard to the young target group? What is the dynamism of the nightlife offer? Crossed views on Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Lisbon, London and Paris.
Six European cities that each evoke multiple images and share, with the exception of Barcelona, positive performance data for the year 2018. Some of them, such as Amsterdam and Barcelona, are victims of their success, which has forced the public authorities to take strong action to regulate tourist clientele. Others have a less "trendy" image. How does each destination work to attract young people, future leisure or MICE consumers to their destinations?
In this article...
- Destinations meet their match
- Which destinations for which millennial brands?
- The accommodations supply through the lens of young clientele
- Focus Airbnb
- Focus social networks
Destinations meet their match
These six European destinations are dynamic cities that each benefit from international renown.
Amsterdam boasts a museum heritage driven by famous artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Rembrandt, its canals also attract tourists and the world-famous Red Light District, which is a strong vector of appeal for young audiences. It is also a dynamic MICE destination with a RevPAR of €115.60 excluding VAT at the end of 2018, up +5.1% compared to 2017, driven by an increase in average daily rates by +6%, while occupancy rates are down -0.7%. However, after spending 10 years developing the number of visitors, particularly through the "I amsterdam" brand, the city is now falling victim to its own success and its residents are suffering from the damage caused by tourists.
Barcelona, a city nestled on the shores of the Mediterranean, rich in famous architectural heritage and a nightlife that once again attracts young people, is pursuing a drastic policy to limit tourism and give the city back to its residents, who in some cases felt deprived of their city and even chant and write the slogan "tourists, terrorists", which can escalate into nocturnal misdemeanors in particular. As a result, hotel development is no longer possible within the city limits. Despite this, the city ended 2018 with a -3.4% drop in its RevPAR to 91.7€ excluding VAT, due to a 3% drop in ADR and a slight decrease in occupancy rate by -0.3%. This is the biggest decrease among Spanish agglomerations followed by OlaKala_destination.
The German capital is home to a flourishing underground culture that also attracts young tourists. It ends the year with a RevPAR up +7.1% to €76.6, boosted by an ADR up +4.9% and an occupancy rate up +1.6 pts. Real estate prices are increasing at the destination, which suggests a turnaround for the cycle in the coming years. In 2018 it saw its room supply in the chain hotel sector increase by 3.8%.
Lisbon is now one of the popular destinations for short urban stays because of its moderate prices, its climate and its heritage offer. This is not the Portuguese destination that comes to mind for millennials looking for a festive holiday, but rather the coasts of the Algarve in the south of the country, which in some seaside resorts offer a rich nightlife. The Portuguese capital ends the year in the green with a RevPAR up +5.7% to €67.7 excluding tax - the lowest in the panel - driven solely by the increase in average daily rates at a time when occupancy rates are falling by -2.3pts.
The British capital maintained very good performance indicators in 2018 with a RevPAR up +2.6% to £103.4 excluding taxes driven by both ORs and ADRs. In 2017, the RevPAR grew by +5.0%. The impact of Brexit on tourist numbers will have to be determined in 2019, but the capital is performing well and still attracts hotel investors who are fond of its MICE clientele. Ten years ago, it capitalized on the arrival of the Olympic Games in 2012 to develop a new tourist area and revitalize its offer, and the benefits are still there.
Paris has been working since 2015 through its tourist office to develop an attractive nightlife offer. However, the Ile-de-France destination attracts 72% of visitors to visit museums and monuments (source CRT Paris Île-de-France). The French capital continues its recovery and closes the year with a +11.9% increase in RevPAR to €132.40 excluding tax thanks to higher prices and patronage.
Which destinations for which millennial brands?
It is in Berlin and London that the brands targeting generations Y and Z are the best established, Amsterdam and Paris follow with Barcelona and Lisbon close behind. This data should be differentiated by nationality of groups developing them with St Christopher Inn historically established in London and Meininger in Berlin.
The accommodations supply through the lens of young clientele
Young people: seeking accommodations in city centers
Choice of accommodations is a key to travel for young people: once there, accommodations often constitute the biggest portion of spending when the accommodations are commercial.
- Location is the leading selection criteria for young people according to tour and events operators for young people. This is the request made by all tourists, of all ages, staying in the city. For young people, one of the reasons is to be able to go out in the evening and walk home safely. Thus, agencies favor accommodation in the city centre.
- Value for price comes just behind, this factor is always important and goes hand in hand with the type of accommodation chosen.
- Youth hostels have the triple advantage of being located in city centers, being inexpensive and even having their own nightlife in some cases (bar, nightclub).
- Young people also take into consideration services provided. Private bathrooms, for example, may constitute a condition. The search for extra services by young travellers is particularly taken into consideration by youth hotels and inns that offer services that are missing from traditional hotel concepts (activities, common areas, night clubs, job boards, games, etc.).
- Tour operators favour accommodations in busy neighborhoods, which for the most part means centrally located.
- Comfort and hygiene are also taken into consideration, along with good value at a low price. Central location or in a lively and festive quarter are the primary criteria when young people choose accommodations.
The giant Airbnb is present in all destinations with a record number of rooms and apartments available in Paris and London. Berlin, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Lisbon lag far behind.
Some of these destinations have taken measures to curb the development of one-to-one rentals via the platform. In Paris, it is impossible to rent an apartment for more than 120 days (with variations depending on whether the accommodation is a primary or secondary residence), and you must request a registration number from City Hall (as a result of the famous "Airbnb decree" signed in 2016 to apply the law for a "Digital Republic"). In Amsterdam, on 1 January 2019 the limit increases to 30 days of rentals per year and per apartment. The Mayor of Barcelona is also developing an arsenal of measures aimed to place strong constraints on homeowners who will no longer be able to rent their homes, for example, if they do not have direct access to the street.
Focus Social Networks
Since the advent of technology and social media, travel is no longer the same. Consumers have the privilege of instant access to information in the form of a digital guide, with TripAdvisor recommendations, blog posts and Instagram photos. Such real time to pertinent recommendations has changed the approach travelers take to their trips.
The biggest websites have understood, and the top tourism sites in each city in the panel keep their own count and hashtags. Nonetheless their popularity varies from one site to the next:
- The Louvre is largely in the lead with 2.5 million subscribers on Instagram, 2.4 million on Facebook and 1.4 million on Twitter. The Eiffel Tower, meanwhile, has fewer fans on Twitter and Facebook, while on Instagram it has 5 million users of the hashtag #EiffelTower.
- The British Museum follows with more than 2 million members on Twitter, 1.4 million on Facebook and 1.3 million on Instagram. Big Ben does not have its own account, but its hashtag has been used more than 2.9 million times on Instagram, with London Eyes (2.7 million) close behind.
- The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam holds third place with 250,000 to 380,000 fans. Unlike other cities, the museum’s hashtag is the most active (340K) but is much weaker compared to the historic monuments of London and Paris.
- Barcelona’s leading site (Sagrada Familia) is much less popular on social networks with 150,000 fans on Facebook, 16,500 on Twitter. Nonetheless 1.6 million internauts have used the hashtag #SagradaFamilia sur Instagram.
- Berlin’s Pergamonmuseum and Lisbon’s Calouste Gulbenkian Museum have particularly slow activity with just a Facebook with few fans (30K fans and 294K fans respectively). In terms of hashtags, these two destinations post weak results (less than 500K) despite a range of unmissable monuments.
Tourism accounts sell a product that is the destination itself. Therefore:
- The contents generated by users tell a story through the eyes of real people. It is authentic, inspirational and may give rise to real emotions.
- Contents quality is very important. As a competitor with best brands worldwide, a destination must valorize itself as much as possible.
- Sites that are photogenic, have unique histories, offer experiences off the beaten path are what travelers adore.
Millennials are a clientele coveted by hoteliers but sometimes difficult to integrate into destinations. However, they will be the future business travellers and family customers of tomorrow whose purchasing power is likely to increase.
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