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MILLENNIALS


B


Y 2020, HALF OF THE GLOBAL WORKFORCE will be made up of millennials. And we are repeatedly told that millennials – the gen- eration born approximately between 1980 and 2000 – have distinctive tastes, seek out unique experiences, are socially minded, tech savvy and constantly switched on. But in 2019, does this ring true? And


what exactly do these 20 and 30-somethings expect and need from their travel experiences – and, more crucially, how are they changing the shape of the travel business? Millennials have grown up in a world of laptops, the internet and smartphones and are the first generation of true digital natives. Consequently, they tend to depend on technology for the entire travel booking process, from reading website reviews to mobile booking. However, research for American Express’ Traveller 360º report, which was published last year and surveyed 2,000 UK business travellers, found three-quarters of them used an online system or app to book business travel, with nearly six-in-ten describing it as easy to use. Another cliché is that millennials desire instant grat- ification. The topic came up at November’s BBT Forum, where delegates argued millennial business travellers tend to opt for the instant gratification of free upgrades instead of saving up points. When they do collect points, they redeem them as often as two or three times a year. “Millennials are more loyal to their social media net- works and they look for ‘instant gratification’ from their loyalty programme,” said Apu Kuchibhotla, head


of sourcing, EMEA, at HRS. “Millennials really needed to be catered for,” she stressed. Carolyn Pearson, chief executive and founder of Maiden Voyage, also spoke at the forum. “Millennials want a different working environment and more flexibility,” she said. And Ian Ferguson, founder and lead partner at Ignis Solutions, claimed “millennials are used to becoming the product themselves”.


But what of their often-cited preference for unique, or sharing economy, accommodation? To some extent this is also true, according to Krystine Dinh, director of communications for TripActions. The corporate travel management firm recently conducted a survey of millennials for its Millennials Are Shifting Business Travel Standards report and found 36 per cent of them favour unique experiences at boutique hotels or Airbnb-type accommodation as opposed to hotel chains; 21 per cent of millennials do not belong to a loyalty programme and they are less interested in loyalty schemes in general; and shared car services – not taxis or shuttles – are their preferred mode of ground transportation. “Much has been written about how millennials are spurring change in the broader cultural and techno- logical sectors, and the same is true when it comes to business travel,” says Dinh. “Our survey results show that millennials still tend to see less distinction between their personal and work lives – they’re mobile-focused and have come to expect the same kind of seamless experi- ences across devices offered by consumer sites, such as Kayak, from their company’s business travel solution.”


buyingbusinesstravel.com


2019


JANUARY/FEBRUARY


99


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