Speaking at the Hospitality & Tourism Summit 2014 in London last week (5 June), Dr Codrington warned that the rules of success and failure in many industries – most notably hospitality and tourism – are undergoing a ‘massive shift’.
“There is a new generation of young people are coming into the world of work, not just as customers but also as staff, and they have a different set of expectations that we have to meet,” he said.
Dr Codrington defined ‘Generation Y’ as those born post 1989 - the year the internet was invented, bringing huge changes to the way we communicate and consume information.
Growing up in a digital age – and experiencing very different parenting and school environments to previous generations – means Generation Y have a very different set of priorities and expectations, he said.
“And we can’t wait for them to grow up. They are different and they are not going to grow up to become like us,” he explained.
Instead, Dr Codrington said hospitality businesses must adapt to better suit the new generation of workers and consumers.
“This is an industry that relies on a fold of young people coming in every year. We have to understand that this is not more of the same.
“If our young people are different, we need to do things differently.”
In order to do this, hospitality businesses need to make three key shifts in mindset, he added.
“You have to sort your technology out, this is a generation that uses technology as its main communication medium,” said Dr Codrington.
“Young people want to bring their own devices and use their own technology, and they want to have access to social media.”
Pointing out that young people check their smartphones on average 70-100 times a day, he stressed that companies should have a ‘mobile first’ strategy.
2. Work/life balance
Dr Codrington said that Generation Y places a high value on socialising and family life, with most looking for opportunities that will give them ‘freedom, flexibility and fun’
“Most young people will be attracted to your industry because of the fun they can have,” he said.
“How much of these three things do young people get when they connect with you? You can’t give them all the freedom, flexibility and fun that they want, but you can probably give them more than they have now.”
Dr Codrington pointed out that just because young people don’t look like they are communicating and connecting when they use mobile devices and other technology, it doesn’t mean they are not.
“You need to find a way to connect into their world, not just expect them to plug back into yours,” he said.
He stressed that hospitality bosses should have personal social media accounts and adopt new technologies to understand the world that their staff and customers live in.
“This world we live in is a world that most corporate chief executives have no personal understanding of,” he said.
“We need to understand their world because it is the world and in your industry it is everything.”