How Millennials Are Shaping the Business-Travel Industry
Business trips ain’t what they used to be—and that might be a good thing. Considering that Millennials will make up half of the global workforce by 2020, they’re starting to have a serious impact on how business trips go down. From the mingling of business and pleasure to the reliance on sharing economy services and the use of tech on the road, here are the major Millennial travel trends that are poised to change business trips forever.
THE RISE OF “BLEISURE”
When it comes to Millennial travel trends, one of the most surprising is Gen Y’s keen interest in business travel. Whereas Baby Boomers once lamented having to jump on a plane to attend client meetings in far-flung locales, Millennials are, according to a recent survey, more than twice as likely to actively desire that scenario.
That brings us to bleisure. Unwieldy portmanteau that it is, bleisure—the mingling of business and pleasure travel—is key for Gen Y. In part, that’s because Millennials are increasingly likely to freelance, be self-employed, or work untraditional hours. Old-school 9-to-5 life created stark demarcations between work and play, but for many Millennial workers, it all bleeds together.
Couple that with the fact that younger workers are more likely to have strained finances, a preference for experiential activities rather than material possessions, and an interest in keeping their ’gram game on point, and it isn’t hard to see why Millennials view a business trip as the ideal jumping-off point for a cost-effective vacay.
LEARNING TO SHARE
While previous generations were far more likely to book a traditional hotel stay and hop in taxis to get around, the latest Millennial travel trends reveal how entrenched disruptive sharing economy services have become—both at home and on the road.
Reportedly, a whopping 7 in 10 Gen Y business travelers are interested in booking in a “shared accommodation” (i.e., Airbnb) during their trip, while over 80% are more likely to prefer a ride-sharing platform than a classic cab. Hotels seeking to compete—including major groups like Hilton and Starwood—are wisely adding sharing flourishes of their own, including everything from co-working spaces to free bike rentals. Even on the road, sharing is caring.
As a rule, Millennials prefer special, unique experiences to material objects or old-fashioned notions of luxury—and against this backdrop, bespoke experiences become the new standard for travel. “Today’s consumers expect personalized experiences from the businesses they frequent, and that doesn’t stop when they travel,” as noted in a recent report.
That can translate to everything from Airbnb offering “tailored search results and custom guidebooks based on their users’ preferences” to Virgin Hotel’s Lucy app, which lets guests order the number of pillows they need, set their preferred room temperature, and pick out their favorite food before they even check in. For both businesses and business travelers, bespoke is better.
TECH IS TOPS
For your average plugged-in Millennial, tech is a natural part of daily life—and a big part of business travel, too. The bulk of Gen Y business travelers will be using social media throughout their trips. They also report wanting 24/7 online support from airlines, hotels, and other travel services while on the go, and will use apps like Hotel Tonight and Airbnb rather than booking through more traditional means. And don’t get us started on Wi-Fi: there’s a reason that even the big hotel groups are starting to offer Wi-Fi on tap for their guests.
This tech-heavy mindset extends to hardware, too. Take the Away bag, which has carved out a successful niche among young business travelers. Not only are its carry-on bags sleek and durably designed, but they also come equipped with an interior compression system and a battery that charges your gadgets on the go. Beyond the luggage, other high-tech gadgets are also capturing younger travelers’ imaginations.
If Millennials are making over business travel in their own image, then, there are plenty of changes afoot—and if you ask us, most of them benefit travelers of all ages and persuasions.