The Business Travel Generational Gap: How are Millennials Changing the Landscape?

January 5th, 2019 by Holly Godbey | Comments Off on The Business Travel Generational Gap: How are Millennials Changing the Landscape?

It’s a hot topic you regularly see in business publications. Millennial are flooding into the market and changing the way business gets done. For the most part, it’s a good thing; studies show millennials are more in tune with their soft skills, and see the value in team diversity, which leads to increased profits.  Still it can be confusing, especially if you’ve been in an industry for decades, only to see it shaken up by this band of ragtag newcomers. 

How are millennials changing the landscape when it comes to business travel?

So how are millennials changing the landscape when it comes to business travel? There’s certainly a generational gap, one that is causing more travel providers to cater to this up-and-coming generation with disposable income — which can be bothersome to those who have traveled their entire careers and are now rattled by all the changes. 

What can you expect, and are these changes good or bad?

Well, let’s start by acknowledging that millennials love travel. This generation has taken to the road with ease, embracing the nomadic lifestyle with digital careers and remote work. Business travel is considered a perk by many, and they look for jobs that promote it. Less business travel in a position is a con in their minds. Even though you might look at business travel as an occasional nuisance, they see it as an opportunity; to explore, see new places, meet new people. In fact, some millennials admit that they’d consider a new job if it allowed them to travel more than their current job. 

When millennials are getting in their much-beloved miles, they’re also traveling differently than their predecessors. 

Take, for example, loyalty programs. Traditionally, business travelers would pick a loyalty program that made sense for them, and would remain loyal out of habit. 

Millennials don’t hesitate to jump ship for a competing brand.

Millennials need a better reason to stick by a brand. They want brands to earn their loyalty. If they start to falter, millennials don’t hesitate to jump ship for a competing brand. 

While you might not react like millennials do, their behavior in the marketplace has benefits for everyone. Loyalty programs are upping the ante to get people to stick around. 

Conversely, there’s one way millennials behave on the road that could negatively impact everyone eventually. While they profess to want an equal work-life balance, it’s less a reality than a perfect state to aspire to. Instead, because of millennials’ willingness to work remotely and their adeptness at it, they can find themselves constantly blurring the lines between work and leisure, until there are no boundaries. At some point, employers will also come around to this new work-life approach.

If a millennial can pack around a hot spot, why can’t you?

For you, this means that bosses might start expecting the same amount of flexibility from all their workers, whether they’re at home or on the road. Additionally, they might not be so apt to take a plane’s bad WiFi, or spotty WiFi connectivity on the ground, as an excuse for not turning projects in on time or making a meeting. After all, if a millennial can pack around a hot spot, why can’t you?

Along the same lines, millennials are hopping aboard the “bleisure” trend (which you can read more about in one of our earlier blog posts). This blurring of the line between leisure and business for employees also has its perks for the boss. While an employee may be extending their business trip by a few days for leisure purposes, it often means they’re not looking to then take two weeks off in the middle of summer to be completely unreachable on a beach in Cabo. Will the boss now be raising an eyebrow when you request off two weeks for your annual family trip to Hilton Head?

Lastly, if you’re ever traveling alongside a millennial colleague, to a meeting across the world or a conference across the country, you’ll soon pick up one advantage they have over the older set — they’re simply more connected while on business trips. They can check in with the office or the team anywhere, anytime, via a host of apps. They don’t miss a thing and are in-the-know at all times. Is an interesting deal going down? Did a big brand just make a major announcement? They already saw it on Twitter, retweeted it, and connected with the right people via LinkedIn. 

“We have a lot to learn from millennial business travelers,” said Jason Hartman, the founder of Hartman Media and a frequent business traveler. “While the differences between their travel habits and those of older professionals may be intimidating at first, getting to know them and the ‘why’ behind their business travel decisions is well worth the effort.”

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