Upscale hotels have found an innovative method for turning teen travelers into future customers. John Wicke, a veteran concierge at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago, pioneered a program for teens to receive travel advice from those they trust the most: fellow teens. The Ritz-Carlton Chicago and several other upscale hotels around the nation now have teen concierges on staff to recommend teen-approved music venues, restaurants, and activities.
"It wasn't enough to just offer them bicycle rentals, but connecting them with someone their own age could make a huge difference to teen travelers," Wicke told FOX News.
New Jersey high school student David Strebel is a teen concierge at New York City's Omni Berkshire. With a father in the hospitality industry and years of experience scoping out activities in New York City, Strebel is well-equipped to give teen travelers advice. Young hotel guests can reach David through Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and text; he'll respond within minutes with his best recommendations.
"I'm not a big fan of the big tourist attractions everyone goes to, so I guide teens to cool hangouts," he says.
According to Bjorn Hanson, dean of New York University’s hospitality school, hotels are working to create customer loyalty from a young age. Catering to teens' interests is one way to build a connection.
Hotels are also revamping their menus with young people in mind. Hyatt ran their new, celebrity chef-designed menu by a group of young taste-testers. Susan Santiago, vice president of Food and Beverage for Hyatt, told USA Today, "If our children are happy, we're happy, and happy parents make for loyal guests."