Skift Take

Everyone wants a better balance between their personal and work lives. Younger travelers are leading the charge when it comes to helping push forward more progressive change in corporate travel policy.

Business travelers want a lot of things: quality accommodations, safety when traveling, the freedom to be able to enjoy themselves during even the most onerous trip, and the ability to balance their work responsibilities with their personal lives.

Work-life balance, in particular, has taken on a new level of importance as digital technology has made it easier work on the road, according to a new study from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) and American Express Global Business Travel.

“Modern business travelers are less frenetic and more deliberate,” writes Greeley Koch, executive director of ACTE. “They travel for two reasons: to meet their corporate objectives and to support their life’s objectives. For a growing number of them, the first is meaningless if it doesn’t contribute to the second. Forty-eight percent of the travel managers interviewed for this report cited an increase in travelers’ work-life balance inquiries. The issue is so significant, that 25 percent of respondent travel managers are developing new key performance indicators based on the traveler experience.”

The report queried 254 travel managers and buyers in September and conducted focus groups to better explore the wants and needs of business travelers. Of particular note are findings on exactly how traveler priorities have shifted.

Younger business travelers are more concerns with work-life balance than they are about safety, while travelers overall a looking for the flexibility to combine leisure elements with their trip.

Here are four takeaways from the report.

Relationships matter


This may come as no surprise, but maintaining customer relationships is the top reason workers travel for business, with internal meetings and sales basically tied for second.

It stands to reason that happier business travelers will do a better job maintaining relationships with their clients.

Business travelers are worried about safety


More travelers are worried today about their personal safety and work-life balance, while concerns about receiving time off in exchange for overtime work has dropped off.

“While quality of life concerns many modern business travelers, the issue that weighs most on their minds is security,” states the report. “Statistically, a traveler is highly unlikely to be caught up in an incident but perceptions matter: almost two-thirds (65 percent) of travel managers saw an increase in traveler inquiries about personal safety.”

Millennials care more about work-life balance than safety


Younger travelers are more concerned about work/life balance than their older peers, and want to combine leisure with their business trip. Interestingly, neither group wants to share accommodations with colleagues or ask about receiving extra time off for working on their days off.

“The evolving behaviors and attitudes that define the modern business traveler are not confined to one particular age group,” concludes the report. “However, the trends appear more pronounced in corporations where the majority of travelers are aged 20 to 30. Here, travel managers have seen the use of app-based ground transportation double in the last three years. Travelers in these corporations also tend to be more enthusiastic about ride sharing and Airbnb-style lodging than the general population.”

Travel managers don’t want to engage with the sharing economy


Companies with younger employees have more progressive travel policies that allow business travelers to use the sharing economy and bring their family on trips. Overall, just nine percent of corporations overall allow workers to book sharing economy accommodations, compared to 15 percent of companies with travelers aged 20 to 30.

You can read the full report below.

Download (PDF, 435KB)


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Tags: business travel

Photo credit: Business travelers are looking for more work-life balance, and companies with younger workers are finding it. Here, attendees at a business conference eat dinner. Hui Yao / Flickr

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