Skift Take

Travel brands need to start paying attention to how younger travelers book travel, especially in business travel. Companies will have a new set of challenges to face, especially if airline or hotel loyalty programs and other perks are less important than local experiences or brand identity.

Young employees are traveling for business more than ever before, according to a new report, and their buying habits are completely different than their older peers.

This may not be a surprise considering the rise of young employees in the U.S. workforce, but travel companies need to pay attention to how the behavior of millennials is totally different than that of older travelers.

In June, the Portrait of Business Travelers from MMGY Global report asked 1,007 business travelers (who took at least one trip in the last year and expect to take at least one trip in the next year) about their business travel habits and expectations. You can purchase the report here.

On average, business travelers took 6.8 trips in the last year, a number which is expected to increase to 7.4 over the following year. Millennials took 7.4 business trips in the last year, compared to 6.4 for Gen Xers and 6.3 for baby boomers.

While this is good news for the business travel ecosystem overall, there is one surprising problem: millennials, who travel the most, report that traveling for work has a more negative affect on their family life than other age groups.

“The biggest surprise is that millennials take the most trips and want to take more, despite believing it has a negative impact on their family life,” said Leanne Hill, senior market analyst at MMGY Global. “We didn’t ask why this is, but we can infer that they think it’s necessary in order to advance in their career and they’re more likely to have younger children at home.”

Another wrinkle has to do with the effect of loyalty programs on traveler behavior. Younger travelers are less likely to book air travel based on loyalty program perks, and more likely to book based on which type of experience they prefer.

“Loyalty programs matter more in airline section than hotel or rental car,” said Hill. “Millennials are less likely to be in loyalty programs for airlines and are less likely to choose an airline because of their loyalty program.”

Younger travelers also were more likely to use roomshare services like Airbnb than their older counterparts, with 67 percent saying they’re interested in staying in a shared home, but major hotel brands aren’t under serious threat, according to Hill. Ridesharing has also become mainstreamed across all groups, with 81 percent overall preferring to use ridesharing over taxis.

Here are four charts detailing other important business travel insights from the MMGY Global report.

Younger workers are traveling the most

Reasons for Past Business Trips Total % Millennials % Xers % Boomers %
To attend a conference 62 74 61 53
To attend a meeting with people from another company for the purposes of business planning or customer service 56 77 56 39
For professional development or training 44 63 43 25
To meet with coworkers who work in a different location 40 58 37 25
For the purpose of selling/pitching new products or services 30 45 27 17
Other 15 18 12 13

Millennials are getting into meetings in a serious way. More than three-in-four millennial business travelers reported they had traveled in the last year for a meeting with another company, and just under two-in-three attended a conference.

… and they’re expecting to travel even more

In the next 12 months, Plan to Take… Total Millennials Xers Boomers
More business trips 38% 59% 33% 19%
Same number of business trips 58% 37% 63% 76%
Fewer business trips 5% 4% 4% 4%
Net increase in intent to take more business trips 32 55 29 15

Overall, no age group expects their business travel to slow in the next year. Millennials expect the most growth, but the other groups are still bullish on the amount of travel their jobs will entail.

Most business travelers book travel themselves

Person Responsible for Travel Planning Total % Millennials % Xers % Boomers %
I make my own reservations 69 69 69 67
The company travel department 17 17 17 18
My assistant/someone else in the company 10 11 11 9
Travel agent 3 2 3 5
None of the above 1 0 0 2

Most business travelers reported booking their own travel, with less than 10 percent of each age group using travel agents.

Hotel bookings are extremely fragmented

How Accommodations are Booked Total % Millennials % Xers % Boomers %
Through the hotel’s website accessed with a desktop computer 29 17 30 42
Through an online travel agency’s (such as Expedia/Orbitz) smartphone/tablet app 10 10 13 8
Through an online travel agency’s website accessed with a desktop computer 10 10 11 10
Through the hotel’s mobile website 8 11 8 6
By calling the hotel directly 8 7 5 11
Through another type of third-party reseller’s (such Kayak, Hotel Tonight or LivingSocial) website accessed with a desktop computer 6 7 8 4
Through an online travel agency’s mobile website 5 6 5 5
At the hotel/resort desk 4 9 4 1
Traditional travel agent 4 8 3 1

Hotel bookings come from a variety of sources, regardless of age group, but direct booking seems to be most popular with business travelers, likely due to the loyalty perks associated with booking direct.



The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: business travel, millennials

Photo credit: Millennials are now hitting the road more than their older counterparts, according to a new survey. Here, two millennials in London check their mobile phones. Garry Knight / Flickr

Up Next

Loading next stories