In just over two years, 50% of the workforce will be millennials, and currently they account for nearly half of all business travel spending, according to Boston Consulting Group. They aren’t the pant-suit wearing, hotel-by-the-airport staying, business-class flying, fancy-meal buying travelers of yore. Their mindset, habits and preferences are completely different, which can present unique challenges as well as opportunities for a managed travel program. Recognizing their needs and adapting your travel policy now will ensure the success of your travel program in the future.
Who are the millennial travelers?
Born between 1980 and 1995, millennials are enthusiastic, tech savvy, entrepreneurial, and they love to travel. Their expectations from travel are different than other generations, and experience is key. Millennials travel to reinvent themselves personally and professionally. They look for adventure and shareable experiences, which means they want to stay connected on the road. A Wi-Fi connection is a non-negotiable amenity. Millennials have come to expect brands to leverage technology that enhances travel planning and their on-the-road experience.
What does it mean for your travel management program?
Travel frequency is no longer the most common characteristic that helps you group your travelers when it comes to your travel program, and specifically, your travel policy. Now, it’s the age group of your travelers. Not only do millennials travel differently, they have an offbeat approach to researching and booking travel. Millennials are willing to research and utilize the sharing economy to bypass traditional travel vendors. They expect customization, mix leisure and business, and want to book everything online. In fact, 78% of millennials will turn a business trip into a “bleisure” trip, and 60% of them believe vacation time benefits their company by helping them think big picture, according to Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card Survey. All of this directly impacts your travel program, and should be taken into account when you think about policy compliance and how you communicate with your travelers.
What can you do to prepare for this demographic shift?
Last Thursday, October 12th, Direct Travel teamed up with Business Travel News for an educational webinar. We brought together a group of panelists consisting of travel managers and travel industry experts to discuss how travel management is evolving with the influx of millennials in business travel and how to prepare your travel program for this transition.
Our panelists shared their experiences and real strategies implemented within their organizations to meet the changing generational needs. One of the strategies discussed was the utilization of technology to communicate and influence behavior. For example, Carey Ann Pascoe, Senior Travel Manager at Dolby Laboratories, recognized an immediate opportunity after getting to know her millennial travelers. Dolby created an internal communication platform that allows travelers to communicate with the travel team. Carey Ann found that millennials were more inclined to stay within the travel policy if their questions were answered quicker through that platform versus other communication means.
Other key strategies discussed during the webinar were:
- Creating a customized experience to increase satisfaction
- Educating travelers on duty of care and duty of loyalty
- Incorporating the sharing economy into the travel policy
- Continuously innovating the program based on generational needs
- Encouraging bleisure trips for cultural experiences relevant to business
The good news is that millennials embrace change, which means that whichever strategy you choose, they can be your early adopters. However, millennials want to be educated on the “why” in order to go along with the change. It has to make sense and deliver value to them.
Want to learn more about these strategies and how to build a value proposition for millennials that drives compliance? Download our whitepaper on the millennial shift in business travel.