Moxy Hotels, owned by Marriott, is a three-star tier boutique-style hotel chain that operates on the smaller rooms, large public space concept. It currently has one location in Milan, Italy, but has 41 more hotels in development. Fourteen are scheduled for eight U.S. cities, expected to open by end of 2017.
Checking in at a Moxy Hotel? You can do so online at the hotel bar, where a bartender is on hand to make you a drink, or help you if you have any issues. Room service has been replaced by 24/7 "grab and go" technology-enabled vending machines. Instead of flipping through endless TV channels, you can screencast your Netflix using the hotels Wi-Fi. (They still have basic channels if you can't find anything to watch.)
Poulos said what Moxy Hotels focuses on is what the "next-gen" traveler really wants: active public space. Its large lobby areas are styled in raw, industrial chic — think concrete floors and purposefully exposed wires — and let people work in the communal areas, meet locals to get tips on the city, and chat with fellow travelers.
"The trend and behavior for millennials is a lot different to what historically travelers wanted," Poulus said. "Baby boomers back in the day wanted a comfortable bed, and they wanted a hot shower. Those elements of functionality were important to those kinds of travelers. Millennials and lifestyle travelers, it's more about experience."
Twenty years ago, the average hotel was a little over 350 square feet, said New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism clinical professor Bjorn Hanson. New hotels are getting smaller because they don't need to be big, he said. Bulky TVs have been replaced for flat screens. Some hotels have even custom-made beds to be between the size of a twin and a full, a nod to the rise of the single traveler.
"Apparently we have no travelers other than millennials, based on the work that is being done," he said. "But it is true that millennials don't spend as much time in their room as boomers did."
While it is true the millennial lifestyle lends itself towards smaller spaces, he believes the entire industry was heading down this path because of cost-cutting measures.
"Millennials make a really good excuse for smaller rooms," Hanson said. "Every square foot taken out of a room makes it less expensive to build, maintain and air-condition. We can attribute it to millennials, but the millennials gave the industry a reason to downsize guestrooms."
What's more, Lodging magazine editor Megan Sullivan said that millennial travelers are looking for technology-connected hotels that give them opportunities to socialize. She credits the trend to the growth in popularity of coffee shop communal work spaces.
"Today's consumer is more savvy," said Sullivan. "It's just the changing times. People are just more interested in having that social experience where they can interact with other travelers and where they can meet the locals."