The first thing most people in marketing will tell you is that the goal is not to create things specifically aimed at millennials, the oft-maligned generation who have never heard TV static or a dial tone in their lives. It's simply that every product evolves for the next generation of customer, and these days millennials are that group. But when it comes to creating a hotel room for the business traveler whose expense account also covers Airbnbs, hotel brands have had to get rid of some existing stereotypes and go back to a time-tested technique: asking people what they want.

Case in point: Hilton's new Canopy brand, which launched its first hotel in Reykjavik in 2016 and has further openings in the pipeline for D.C., Chicago, and Dallas. The company spent three years interviewing potential clients, bringing them into Hilton's D.C.-area headquarters to check out model rooms, and narrowing in on specific dynamic neighborhoods before even breaking ground in Iceland. "The top three drivers for guest satisfaction are room, check-in, and greeting on arrival," says Gary Steffen, the global head of Canopy by Hilton. "Then for millennials you would add on free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, and in-room fridges."

While many brands are eager to imitate the Ace hotel model—where lobbies are so cool, even locals hang out there with laptops in tow—Canopy's research showed that focusing on common spaces often meant that rooms were lackluster. Even if a millennial business traveler wants to meet locals or have a space full of free coffee to sit at and respond to emails, it's also critical to have a warm shower and a comfortable bed—something anybody at any age could agree with. The way to cope with a long flight and the 12-hour time difference between New York and Hong Kong isn't fashion shows and TED talks in communal spaces—it's with a room that will be ready when you check in, even if it's 4 a.m. local time.

"We took so much time in creating a guest room that works," Steffen adds. "Plugs, Wi-Fi, and lighting are at your fingertips. If I have a bad guest room, I don't care about how energetic the lobby space is. It's the entire package that we’re creating." And though the brand's first hotel is already open, that doesn't mean Canopy's work is done. Steffen and his team constantly monitor feedback, both from guest surveys and from social media outlets like Twitter and Instagram as well as ratings sites…[read the full article at]