How are Millennials Impacting Business Travel?

February 1, 2016
Reading Time: 2 minutes

What does the rise of the millennial mean for the business travel sector?

With every passing year, the millennial generation accounts for a greater share of the global workforce. This demographic, which roughly incorporates people born between the 1980s and 2000, currently accounts for around one in three employees and the figure is expected to reach half by the start of the next decade.

Face-to-face still first

The rise of the millennial is already having a profound impact on the working world and business travel is no exception. A reliance on digital technology is one of the main traits associated with the demographic, but this does not mean millennials are favouring video calls and conferences over traveling to face-to-face meetings.

A survey carried out by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has revealed 57 percent of millennials believe technology can never fully replace face-to-face meetings and people in the demographic are nearly twice as likely to want to travel for work as baby boomers (45 percent to 26 percent).

Commenting on the research, Susan Chapman-Hughes, senior vice-president for American Express Global Corporate Payments, stated: “Millennials in particular are interested in business travel and see the value it brings to their companies and their careers.

“This generation may see more upsides to business travel because they’ve found new ways to stay connected to their personal and professional commitments while on the road.”

The mobile experience

How else are millennials impacting business travel? PwC research has revealed the demographic has a strong preference for mobility in general. In a survey, seven in ten respondents said they would like to work abroad at some point in their career, while 66 percent believe international experience is necessary to further their career.

“I expect to travel and my career will be more about enjoying the experience than earning money,” one millennial told PwC.

With the demographic so focused on working abroad and gaining international experience, it is no surprise that they are strong advocates of business travel. However, is the way in which millennials travel different to the habits of their predecessors?

According to the GBTA research, millennials do place a greater emphasis on technology when traveling. For example, 46 percent are likely to use social media to meet up with friends while on the move, compared to just 17 percent of baby boomers. Also, when asked if they could only have access to one travel amenity, 30 percent of millennials said they would choose Wi-Fi, which is close to double the figure for baby boomers. Another notable finding in the research was that only 53 percent of millennials are willing to use personal credit cards to float business expenses, compared to 69 percent of older employees.

It was also revealed that millennials are generally more willing to combine elements of consumer and business travel. For example, one in four said they are happy to use an app-based private car service instead of a traditional taxi. Millennials are also keen on the use of apps, with close to two-thirds feeling their overall travel experience is improved by the use of mobile apps from travel suppliers.

These trends will be of interest to all stakeholders in the business travel space, as the needs of millennials increasingly represent both the sector’s present and future.