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How travel brands are adapting for millennials

Mike Kemp | In Pictures | Getty Images

Adaptation, innovation, and evolution.

These are the buzzwords describing the travel industry's understanding of millennials — typically defined as those born between 1980-2000 — when they go on trips.

Travel and hospitality was one of the major themes at the Millennial 20/20 summit, the first of its kind in Asia, which debuted in Singapore to explore the future of commerce.

"It's a lot more about listening to friends and seeing what the bloggers are writing about," Faeez Fadhlillah, CEO and CO-Founder of TripFez, a company that accommodates preferences of Muslim travelers, said during a panel discussion.

And for millennials, differentiation is the name of the game.

Janice Chan, Senior Director of Digital Marketing at Starwood recalled when Starwood first launched its W Hotel, brand. "The bars were filled with young people, but the rooms were all suits," she said, referring to the high nightly rate driving out younger guests from actually staying at the hotels.

There wasn't a brand in Starwood's portfolio that could cater to millennial interests and wallets, and that's when Aloft Hotels started.

"We don't do any traditional marketing," Chan said of the brand. Instead, the hotel partners with local partners that emphasize experiences.

Aloft debuted a robot room service butler in its hotels last year.

Even though millennials tend to be perceived to have minimal loyalty to brands, loyalty programs are another story.

"Loyalty programs are the way to capture an audience," Chan said.

"When I travel, I want to stay at a five-star hotel, but I don't want to pay for a five star hotel," Fadhlillah said, referencing the loyalty points he vehemently accrues.

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