Millennials – the enigmatic and seemingly reckless bunch – are single-handedly reshaping the travel industry with their unique set of expectations, preferences and behaviour. When it comes to business travel, millennials are proving themselves to be a zealous generation of road warriors that are twice as eager to travel for business than the generations before theirs.
The Boston Consulting Group forecasts that millennials will account for half of all business travel spending by year 2020. Beyond simply highlighting the growing number of millennial travellers, businesses and industry players should leverage on this insight and adapt their travel policies and business models respectively, so as to remain relevant to the millennial travellers.
The good news is millennial travellers are not hard to please. As they already perceive business travel as a privilege, they are more likely to embrace it as an experience, paving the way for businesses to obtain value through catering to their needs and preferences.
It’s all about the value
Unlike the baby boomers who are simply price-conscious, millennials are more interested in getting the best bang for their buck and will not hesitate to spend more for an upgrade, as long as they perceive it to be a worthwhile investment. This also means that they consider a much wider range of factors when making a decision on their flights, hotels, and other travel-related services. This can include price, online reviews, convenience, comfort and increasingly, design. For example, millennials would top up a reasonable amount for a preferred flight time if this means that they will be more well-rested and productive upon reaching their destination.
For businesses with millennial travellers, it is worth noting their specific preferences – if they prefer an early morning or red-eye flight, or what are their top priorities when it comes to accommodation (i.e. location, facilities or services). Having these insights on the travellers’ habits allow organisations to improve their travel policies in order to increase efficiency and even accrue cost savings. Allowing more flexibility and increasing the options made available to travellers also means that they are more likely to adhere to the organisation’s travel policies, instead of seeking alternative methods to secure their travel preferences, which could potentially expose the organisation to unexpected risks or compromise on any duty of care obligations.
Travelling in style
Another major motivator for millennial travellers is the experience – beyond getting their jobs done, they also value the chance to enjoy themselves along the way. The bottom line is; millennials want to travel in style and will actively seek out unique and noteworthy experiences to share with their friends and family back home, usually through social media. After work hours, they are more likely to utilise their free time to explore the trendy spots in the city for a photo op, even if it’s on their own expense.
This is why millennial travellers are also the main purveyors of the Bleisure trend. Bleisure – the mixing of business and leisure – is rapidly reshaping the travel industry. In The Bleisure Report by BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, it was found 60% of the business travellers are more likely to take a Bleisure trip today, compared to five years ago. Yet, 59% of the respondents reported that their organisation does not have a travel policy that caters to Bleisure.
Clearly, there is a gap here for businesses to bridge and travel management partners can help take the lead by offering additional services to business travellers that will help ease their transition from business to leisure. This again, further incentivises travellers to comply with their organisation’s travel policy.
Millennials are no doubt challenging the long-established conventions of business travel, however, rather than viewing this disruption as a threat, businesses can tip the scales in their favour by embracing the opportunities that millennial travellers bring.