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Q&A with Kevin Kelly

President, Delaware North Parks & Resorts

Why is this research important to Delaware

North Parks & Resorts? Our mission is to provide stewardship and hospitality in Special Places, dedicated to creating memorable guest experiences as unique as the destination. In support of this mission, we have core values to be Stewards of the Environment, Stewards of Interpretation and Education, and Stewards of Historic Structures and Artifacts.

As operators in Special Places, we take a very customer- centered, data-driven approach to how we run our business. Ongoing research is at the core of this philosophy.

Why are Millennials important? Millennials represent not only a powerful segment of today’s traveler, but their preferences and habits will help shape the future of travel preferences going forward. Therefore, it is important to us that we understand these nuances not only for today, but with an eye to the future as well.

Many of our clients are also focused on this demographic as they look for ways to be relevant to this age group.

This is such a fascinating group. Millennials are more ethnically and racially diverse, and more educated, than any other previous generation. This creates a great opportunity for many of our clients, such as NPS and NASA, who are looking for ways to be more relevant to both younger audiences and more ethnically diverse audiences. Millennials can be a gateway for both objectives.

How will you apply the findings of this research? It is exciting and encouraging to see that Millennials place strong preference for those elements that are core values for Parks & Resorts such as the Environment and Education (importance of learning something new). Now the focus must be on delivering on these values in ways that are meaningful and appropriate to Millennials.

What role will technology play? Clearly, we must take their preferences for technology into account, particularly as we “Tell the Story” of the Special Places both to entice their visitation as well as engage them during their stay.

Focusing on mobile and social networks as information and booking channels changes a lot about the typical ways of doing business, and it is a big part of where we are putting our efforts.

Are there particular implications for your

lodging properties? On the “Hospitality” side of our business, this information impacts our decisions on the type of services and amenities we offer, including the room décor, food & beverage offerings, and technology offerings. Travel parties are clearly different with Millennials, so rethinking how we package and price is a consideration, too.

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