“What do Millennials mean for your business?”
“What makes millennials tick?”
Here a Millennial, there a Millennial, everywhere a Millennial - just about every industry today is speaking excitedly about what this younger workforce is bringing to the table, and corporate travel management is no different.
The Millennial mass can be overwhelming, but no less important. Consider these three statistics:
- Millennials (people born between the years 1981-2000) form the majority of the workforce today.
- By 2025, Millennials will make up 75 per cent of the global workforce.
- By 2020, Millennials will account for 50% of all business travel spending.
The exciting and challenging reality for today’s businesses is simple: Millennial business travellers are significantly different to their elder counterparts. In order to manage them effectively, businesses need to understand them.Below we outline the mechanics of Millennial travel management, and explain how businesses can adjust their corporate travel programs to accommodate for the new breed of business traveller.
The Rise of the Millennials
In October 2016, Google Trends ranked the search term “Millennial” as 100/100 on its global interest scale. In October 2015, this ranking was 23/100, and in October 2014, it was a meagre 16/100. The rise of the Millennials has well and truly arrived, and everyone is talking about it.
Almost every business in every industry is experiencing the impacts of a younger workforce, who are inherently tech-savvy, innovative and agile. The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016 even found that a surprising 44% of Millennials would leave their current employer within the next two years.
A Pew Research Center report found that in 2015, Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest share of the US labour market (or 53.5 million workers, about one-third). The same trend is true for the Australian workforce, and business leaders in all industries are adapting to meet the needs of the new breed.
Millennial Business Travellers: Unmanageable or Misunderstood?
Millennials may be the majority, but in many ways they’re still misunderstood by their employers. Often called the “Me Generation”, some elder business people regard Millennials as self-centred individualists who come and go as they please, deriding anyone without an A-grade tech knowledge.
An article by Justin Bachman in Bloomberg, titled “The Millennials Have No Patience for Your Corporate Travel Policies”, reflects the challenges businesses are facing in managing their younger business travellers.
Businesses that put noncompliance with travel policies down to Millennials being “kids” will fail to ever manage them effectively. The truth of the matter is more interesting than misguided rebellion. So what do Millennials actually value in a corporate travel experience?
“Kids today! Won’t use the corporate travel policy, want to choose their own rental car company, no respect for ‘compliance’ or ‘mandates’,” it reads.
The Characteristics of Millennial Business Travellers
As mentioned above, travel managers must have a keen understanding of their Millennial employees in order to manage them. Below are three defining characteristics of Millennial travellers:
1. Technology Champions
Millennial travellers aren’t just technologically savvy, they’re technologically supportive.
An eMarketer report found that in 2015, 17.5% of 25 to 34-year-olds used mobile payments. This is compared to the just 3.5% of 65-years and older bracket of consumers, who remain wary of the technology.
The same report predicted that in 2017, 37% of younger consumers will have embraced mobile payments, compared to just 6.5% of older consumers.
While these statistics refer to uptake of mobile payments technologies, they reflect a broader trend of technology adoption in corporate travel. An Expedia report found that “Mobile devices are nearing ubiquity for business travellers, but more so for Millennials.”
2. New-age Networkers
According to research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, Millennials are keen conference travellers. However, it’s unlikely you’ll find they carry a suitcase full of business cards.
An article by Katie Devlin in Forbes, titled ‘Why Millennials Should Throw Out Their Business Cards and Connect Digitally” explains how Millennials are new-age networkers, valuing digital connections when conducting their networking.
“Presenting your personal brand in a digital manner will be sure to keep you name - and image - top of mind to an ever-growing community as you grow your career,” she writes.
Interestingly, while Millennials are keen conference travellers, their networking doesn’t end there. According to a Hipmunk survey of Millennial business travellers, 45% of respondents said they would like to be able to digitally connect with fellow passengers while flying. Mid-flight networking is increasing in popularity, with carriers announcing full Wi-Fi connectivity and even ‘Meet and Seat’ networking programs for business travellers.
3. Creatures of Culture
The perception that Millennial employees are self-centred isn’t without reason, however nor is it a bad thing for businesses. Just like Millennials may have up to seven jobs before they reach 30 years old in order to find their perfect fit, Millennials value their personal comfort highly while travelling.
The same research by the Boston Consulting Group found that Millennial corporate travellers are 60% more likely to upgrade for extra legroom on flights. They’re also more likely to pay a premium for roomier seats, more headroom, and in-flight entertainment.
40% would pay more for an open bar on the plane, and 25% would pay up to $50 more for a child-free plane.They are also more likely to incorporate leisure days into their corporate travel journeys (known as ‘bleisure travel’), which they say enriches their end-to-end experience.
Travel Managers and Millennial Travellers
It’s clear that Travel Managers must take a different approach to Millennial travellers than they do with more senior employees. For example, some providers in the corporate travel industry have turned to gamification strategies to encourage compliance with travel policies.
However, according to Justin Bachman in Bloomberg, “The obvious way to change behaviour would be to stop reimbursing employees for self-booked travel.”
In doing so, businesses would forfeit the productivity and innovation that Millennial travellers enjoy by crafting their business trips to suit their individual preferences.
The answer for travel managers is a corporate travel platform that supports self-booking and personalisation, without sacrificing cost control, expense visibility or insight and analysis of policy performance. To see how the Locomote platform does just that, view a product demonstration by clicking below: