How Generation Age Groups Impact Hospitality

Robert Gary Dodds

By Robert Gary Dodds

May 21, 2022

Previously, we tied together how employee culture and the employee links in the service profit chain.  The total employee experience drives customer satisfaction, loyalty, and business bottom profitability.

The trends in the hospitality industry drive customer loyalty, repeat business, and business referral.    These actions result in higher occupancy, revenue, flow-through, profit, and ROI to investors.

Let’s look at the different age groups, the impact on the service profit chain and how to best move forward.

How Generation Age Groups Impact Hospitality

Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z, and now Gen A as they are referred.  Most followed differentiation of Boomers, and Gen X and Gen Y may be better known as Millennials, but it has grown as Boomers retire or not, and each new way of describing employee and age group habits.  To recap:

  • Boomers refer to those born between 1946 – 1964.
  • Gen X, those born between 1965 – 1980.
  • He was better known as millennials and were born between 1981 – 1995
  • Gen Z was born between 1996 – 2012
  • Gen A born between 2013 – through most agrees it will be by 2025.
  • Who knows what next, Gen B or not, to be? That is the question?

The Panic to Focus on Millennial Hiring Only Since 2000

Customer Trends

Top marketing trends indicated that millennials were and would increasingly be the customer going forward, spending the most money in our industry as the Boomers and Gen X started to retire. Hence innovative companies began spending their marketing dollars to become attractive to millennial customers.

Major groups started creating and opening new hotels, for example, with trendy names and design styles, delivering what the millennial customer market was saying they looked for in a hotel. Several economists contend that proof that these savvy marketing leaders were right is panned out in millennials (Gen Y) being the most significant spending demographic in many powerful continents during the Pandemic.

Millennials may Retire Earlier

Millennials also stand to inherit their parents’ more significant savings from Baby Boomers and early Gen X retirees.  This will see millennials more likely to retire or reduce work hours earlier than their parents or later generations, who will be less able to due to their potential financial situation.

Employers Needed to Follow the Millennial Customer Trend

So, employers were required to focus for similar reasons after building strength in millennial customers on attracting millennials to the workplace over the next twenty years from 2000.  From 2011 to 2029, we’d be seeing most Boomers retiring, and by 2045, in another 23-years still, we may see most Gen X retiring.

Yet a decade before most Boomers would likely retire, most large companies from the early 2000s, instead of focusing on all employees and investing as much in retaining the lower labor turnover Boomers and Gen X talent they had, spent billions on attracting millennials.  Many often labeled this demographic as seeking shortcuts to career growth and income return – and being quicker to leap-frog from employer to employer to get there.


The Post-Covid Result of This Mis-Step

Retention investment as labor turnover continued or increased with more millennials on board, some surveys suggest, was then piled into how to retain “millennials”.

However, it costs far less to invest in retaining talent than attracting it and then evolving new talent to company culture and productivity, positively impacting the bottom line.

Yet existing age demographic employees, it appears, held less focus to many corporations fixed on millennial hiring.

Like an Ostrich’s with its Head in the Sand

Those who had raised the battle cry and flag of blinkered investment primarily in millennial-only talent attraction and later millennial talent retention missed the powerful support solution hiding in plain sight – greater Boomer and Gen X retention effort.

Many employers focused the first two decades since 2000 primarily on attracting Millennials and far less effort on retaining not in a rush to leave Boomers or Gen X loyal employees. The almost panic to invest millions in millennial talent acquisition lost sight of the reality of putting your employees first that so many of the big boys espoused. They dropped the ball of the employee service profit chain because marketing trends saw the massive growing trend of millennial spending power – and some confused that with the need to hire mainly millennials to serve them before everything else.

Now we are coming out of Covid lockdowns, and our industry is reopening rapidly; as the public is coming back, how many of us, from fast food stores to luxury hotels, have signs saying “Hiring Now.” So many cannot attract enough right now. Why?

Many Baby Boomers and Gen X had been the first to be dropped from the payroll in Covid or not paid enough attention to earlier. Unemployed for months or much longer, these Boomers sought alternate careers and many early retirement where they felt undervalued. Many experts claim that the millennials had a trend that was quick to jump employers to kick-start rapid career growth. In contrast, the boomers and Gen X were the backbones of lower labor turnover.

These missteps by all too often enlightened academic rather than steeped in industry hotelier HR senior leaders of large corporations are now coming home to roost as we move out of Covid lockdowns.  Many of those Boomers and Gen X are only a few years from retirement – and chose not to come back to work post-Covid closures of too many businesses in our industry.

Those somewhat ignored in the retention versus hiring strategies and often first to be dumped in Covid chose to retire early or find alternate careers.

Such Boomer loss from our industry may have chosen 9-5 jobs Monday and Friday with other sectors where they have no 24-hour shift rotation or, as for many in our industry, be on their feet all day.

You need a living, breathing Culture in pace to attract and retain top talent, or you risk losing half of your youngest employees, mainly the new focus as millennials were twenty years ago) the Gen Z, Gen Y, and Gen A emerging.


About the author

Robert Gary Dodds

Robert Gary Dodds is the Founder and Managing Partner at MG Consulting and a consultant at Cayuga Hospitality Consultants. Gary is an international best practice specialist in Human Resources, Learning & Development within the hospitality industry.  His global background includes living and working in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.  Now working with clients on most continents and previously having headed Human Resources in regional and corporate luxury brands worldwide – Gary is well qualified to talk about what best practices he sees and what are, for some, lessons still to be learned.

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