Millennial Travel Trends and Business Travel
If there’s one niche group that has paved the way to a new type of corporate culture, it is the Millennial generation. Whether they are traveling overseas or trekking through sought-after destinations, Millennials born between the years 1980 and 2000 have become today’s movers-and-shakers in the business world.
For employers, understanding the needs, expectations, and habits of this unique generation is essential to establishing a sufficient company travel policy.
Are Millennials Changing the Nature of Business Travel?
Within the next 5 to 10 years, the Millennial generation’s expectations of business travel are expected to rise as they enter the peak of their earning and spending potential. They continuously seek real value and worth at their workplace and are more inclined to travel frequently to international destinations unlike their predecessors, the Baby Boomers faced with more family commitments and responsibilities. Millennials are tech-savvy, socially minded, and all about proper accommodation. According to the Boston Consulting Group, they will account for close to 50% of all business travel spending by 2020.
Travel and Workforce
According to the Governance Studies at Brookings report entitled “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America,” Millennials will comprise more than 1 of 3 adult Americans by 2020 and 75% of the workforce by 2025.
Forecasted to travel 35% more this year than in 2017, Millennials are receptive to new experiences and opportunities that travel for work has to offer. This group expects their company travel policy to be just as flexible as it is in our consumer-driven world. “Business travelers are looking for an experience, end-to-end that mimics or even surpasses what they’re getting in the leisure experience” – Evan Konwiser, VP Digital Traveler for American Express Global Business Travel. These individuals are experts at travel booking their own weekend getaways or their month-long vacations which is what makes them a generation of natural travelers and adventure-seekers. Instant gratification in this world is part of their reality.
Last minute bookings and comparison sites make it easy to scout for the most affordable flights, hotels, and car rental services. Employees no longer have to book business trips in advance or in bulk in order to get the best prices. They can find next day flights to China that cost $100 more or even less than the same flight a month from now—with just a simple click of a button. Therefore, companies are beginning to build their travel policies to reflect these Millennial travel trends which are considerably more important. Employees prefer arranging their own travel bookings rather than resorting to agencies who cannot accommodate to their ever-changing schedules.
Companies should encourage an effective Millennial travel strategy that addresses key factors like time, effort, and risk with the expectations of their employees in mind—from coordinating and aligning their goals to formulating effective strategies, tactics, and reasonable budgets.
Work and Life Balance
Finding the right balance has become a challenge for Millennials who have grown accustomed to fitting their leisure pursuits and family time around work. A handful of individuals work from home or have flexible hours—making the line between their personal and professional lives often blurred.
When it comes to travel, Millennials are truly the generation that has cultivated flexibility and freedom—extending their business trips to include leisure days. In fact, companies that incorporate flexible travel policies allowing their employees to extend business trips for exploration and pleasure, often increase the value and loyalty of their workforce.
Just like companies establish employee loyalty through providing benefits and flexibility, airlines and hotels do the same. However, Millennials are already engaging with brands, forming opinions and travel habits—making it increasingly challenging for travel companies, hotels and airlines to effectively target them.
In an article entitled “Trends on Business Travel’s Biggest Generation: Millennials,” it states that “younger Millennials (ages 18 to 24) are three times more likely to report strong brand loyalty than their non-Millennial counterparts”. The vast majority of Millenials take action regarding brands they feel strongly about through their social networks. The top of these are airlines, hotels, and travel booking companies which are heavily vested in the Hospitality space. This shows how important it is to build strong brand loyalty within this generation and mold their travel brand preference towards these ongoing changing factors.
Digital Age and Connectedness
According to the 2015 GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™, Millennials are the first generation of the digital age, yet they still prefer having face-to-face interactions with clients and suppliers even with all the technology available to them. This is truly an indication of how business travel will continue to play a key role in the notion of connectedness for the Millennial employee.
When it comes to life and travel, everyone loves an easy experience. From online reviews to mobile booking and check-in to expecting top-of-the-line services—to staying connected to friends—Millennial employees rely on technology and anticipate easy, user-friendly and hassle-free experiences when it comes to the overall travel booking process.
Travel trends such as clear, accessible flights, hotels, car rental and insurance fees should be considered when formulating a company’s travel policy. On a corporate level, if the entire business travel ecosystem can transform to be completely seamless and mobile-friendly, the Millennial traveler experience will be greatly improved.
Introducing Shep, a one-stop-shop open booking platform that understands these needs and takes the stress out of booking your next business trip. Shep offers a comprehensive, all-in-one travel tool for business travelers and works with companies to provide them with policy guidance and reporting for your favorite booking sites. By using the same consumer interface of these travel sites, employees have the peace of mind that they are abiding by their company’s travel policy while companies efficiently monitor company expenses.
So, are Millennials Changing the Nature of Business Travel?
In short, yes, and a number of companies have already started improving their travel services to comply with the satisfaction demands of Millennial travelers as a means to improve their overall performance. They look for more employee-focused booking tools, such as Shep, to measure the success of their programs, track traveler trends and justify improvements. Shep uses an easy to use expense data reporting approach that also enables traveler tracking while supporting daily responsibilities of the managers responsible for monitoring compliance
This understanding between the demand of travelers and company efforts to accommodate their needs while also ensuring their own is guaranteed to shape the future of business travel in the upcoming years.