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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 TripsTotal %Millennials %Xers %Boomers %
To attend a conference62746153
To attend a meeting with people from another company for the purposes of business planning or customer service56775639
For professional development or training44634325
To meet with coworkers who work in a different location40583725
For the purpose of selling/pitching new products or services30452717

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…TotalMillennialsXersBoomers
More business trips38%59%33%19%
Same number of business trips58%37%63%76%
Fewer business trips5%4%4%4%
Net increase in intent to take more business trips32552915

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 PlanningTotal %Millennials %Xers %Boomers %
I make my own reservations69696967
The company travel department17171718
My assistant/someone else in the company1011119
Travel agent3235
None of the above1002

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 BookedTotal %Millennials %Xers %Boomers %
Through the hotel’s website accessed with a desktop computer29173042
Through an online travel agency’s (such as Expedia/Orbitz) smartphone/tablet app1010138
Through an online travel agency’s website accessed with a desktop computer10101110
Through the hotel’s mobile website81186
By calling the hotel directly87511
Through another type of third-party reseller’s (such Kayak, Hotel Tonight or LivingSocial) website accessed with a desktop computer6784
Through an online travel agency’s mobile website5655
At the hotel/resort desk4941
Traditional travel agent4831

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.


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