Part 1 of 4
Generation Alpha, or Gen Alpha, is the demographic group born from 2010 to 2025, succeeding Generation Z. This generation is the first to be fully born in the 21st century and is often linked with Gen Y, as most members of Gen Alpha have millennial parents, as such sometimes they are also called “mini millennials”. Gen Alpha is expected to reach close to two billion by 2025 with India poised to have the largest population of Gen Alphas, followed by China and Indonesia.
With an estimated 2.8 million members being born globally each week, it is high time that we took a closer look at what makes Gen Alpha tick. A standout feature is that they are digital natives. While there are exceptions, Gen Alpha is generally proficient with technology. They are growing up in a world where digital technology is enmeshed into everyday life. They have never known a world without smartphones, tablets, and the Internet.
Gen Alpha is also likely to be one of the most diverse in history, with many coming from multicultural backgrounds and more connected to global culture. Thanks to the Internet and social media, this generation has a greater awareness of world issues and perspectives. Gen Alpha will experience rapid technological advancements, particularly in areas like artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and automation, which will profoundly shape their lives and the workforce they enter.
Let us take a closer look at how this generation will impact the hospitality industry in this 4-part series that will explore Gen Alpha’s influence on key industries such as hospitality, retail, gaming, and F&B.
One of the most significant influences of Generation Alpha on the hospitality sector is their heightened awareness of environmental sustainability. They are growing up in a world where climate change is a pressing issue, and they expect the businesses they engage with to reflect their concerns. Greta Thunberg, a prominent advocate for climate action, serves as a striking example. Born in 2003, Thunberg has inspired millions of young people worldwide to participate in climate strikes, demanding governments take immediate action to combat climate change.
Gen Alpha is likely to carry this torch forward, advocating for sustainable practices and innovative solutions to address environmental challenges.
How then can the hospitality industry cater for Gen Alpha? According to Rosemary Anderson of Fedhasa, South Africa's trade association for the hospitality industry, hotels in South Africa are slowly starting to market to Gen Z and Gen Alpha by leveraging technology and digital platforms.
Hotels have begun to focus on creating personalised and immersive experiences that align with the younger generations' preferences and this includes offering interactive and technology-driven amenities, providing opportunities for social media sharing and user-generated content and showcasing sustainable practices.
Hotels in regions like the Maldives, which are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, need to take this into account. Alphas are likely to favour eco-friendly accommodations, such as those with renewable energy sources and reduced plastic usage. The Shinta Mani resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia, serves as a prime example of social responsibility, combining luxury with community support through its foundation that empowers local communities.
Moreover, Gen Alpha holds an enormous influence on their parents' decision-making, pushing hotels to adapt their offerings.
In a study by Expedia Group titled "Generation Alpha Research", 43% of respondents indicated that young children influence or inspire the decision-making process when booking a family trip. They actively participate in the planning process and voice their preferences and opinions.
With parents who are more affluent than previous generations, Alphas often accompany them on vacations. This shift has prompted hotels to provide a variety of room options catering to different family dynamics, acknowledging that a one-size-fits-all approach no longer suffices.
Technology plays a pivotal role in catering to Alpha's preferences. Personalisation is key, with hotels leveraging advanced data analytics and AI to anticipate and meet individual guest needs. Whether at city, business hotels or idyllic beach resorts, Alphas are comfortable with technology-enhanced experiences, including the use of robots for services. This raises the prospect of the metaverse playing a role in the future of hospitality, offering virtual experiences and immersive environments that captivate and engage them.
In terms of value, Generation Alpha is redefining luxury and the star rating system. Their expectations differ based on the type of hotel and the level of service provided. A 3-star hotel might need to emphasize affordability and convenience, while a 5-star resort should focus on creating memorable experiences that align with their values. This could potentially lead to a reconsideration of the traditional star rating system in favour of a more diversified approach that better caters to the preferences of Gen Alpha.
In a nutshell, Alphas are ushering in a new era of hospitality, demanding sustainability, personalised experiences, and redefined notions of luxury. The industry must adapt to meet their unique needs and expectations, from embracing eco-friendly practices to welcoming advanced technology and evolving the traditional star rating system. By catering to Generation Alpha's values and preferences, hotels can thrive in an ever-changing landscape and provide unforgettable stay experiences for this influential generation.
Gen Alpha is set to change and shape the future, and as they mature, their unique perspectives and experiences will contribute to a world that values sustainability, innovation, equality, and digital fluency, ultimately leaving a lasting impact on society, technology, and the global economy. It is essential for governments, institutions, and businesses to adapt to this emerging generation's values for a brighter future.