A shocking but true statistic: By the year 2025, 75 percent of the workforce will be comprised of millennials.
And here’s another fact that is highly cited but still worth repeating: A report by MMGY Global finds that, of the three generations in the workforce, millennials now go on the most business trips, taking an average of 7.7 business trips in 2015-2016 as compared to 6.4 trips for Gen Xers and 6.3 for baby boomers. And get this: The same report indicates 61 percent in this generation wish to travel more.
It makes total sense. Millennials — defined by MMGY Global as those born between 1980 and 2000 — are an independent, adaptable, adventurous bunch who crave time outside the office. Tech-savvy and hyperconnected, they easily work on the go, excel at multitasking and thrive working in different settings. Because many of them have postponed getting married and having kids, they can leave for a trip on short notice and are in no rush to get back home — and even will delay doing so, if company policy allows it.
Because of their unique traits, millennials also have unique desires when it comes to business travel. And while it may seem easier to stick to the status quo and ignore their requests, when you reconsider the stats above, that’s the kind of mentality that will motivate your most eager travelers to pack up and leave for a company with better travel perks. Fortunately, tweaking your travel program need not be arduous. With just a few subtle shifts, you can have a program that’s a millennial magnet.
The first thing millennials want: tech tools that can keep up with them
Perhaps the most defining feature of these “digital natives” is how technologically connected they are. More tech-dependent than tech-savvy, they conduct much of their daily tasks via their mobile devices and feel it shouldn’t be any different when it comes to planning their business trips. They want the technological power to make bookings, check itineraries, receive travel updates, hail rides, make dinner reservations and submit expense reports all with a few swipes on their smartphone.
The solution: Simple. Encourage them to download apps, such as the Amex GBT Mobile app that makes their travel coordination a fast, seamless process. Not only does our user-friendly app — available only to American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) clients — give travelers the ability to view and share their itinerary details and receive travel updates, but with just the touch of a button, they can access live support when needed. And for when the workday winds down, the app also has a search function that helps travelers find restaurants and activities to do in the nearby area. American Express GBT also offers Neo, an award-winning self-booking tool with a superior interface and functionality that lets travelers make all their travel arrangements in one place. Available to clients in the EMEA region, Neo has a search tool that helps steer travelers toward cost-effective, in-policy bookings, this powerful tool is one travel mangers will love, too.
The second thing millennials want: the flexibility of staying in alternative accommodations like Airbnb™
According to another report by MMGY Global, just four in ten business travelers expressed an interest in staying in an alternative accommodation such as those offered via Airbnb while on a business trip. However, when the bracket was narrowed down to include millennials only, that number jumped to seven in ten. It’s no wonder why they love it so much. Millennials crave new experiences that give them a taste of the local culture — even more so if they think they are getting a good deal.
The solution: While in the past some travel managers (TM) may have been hesitant to allow their travelers to stay at shared accommodations, things are changing now — and rapidly.
According to a recent Bloomberg report, more than 250,000 companies now are signed up to book and manage travel through Airbnb, compared to just 250 in 2015. And a few months ago, Airbnb launched a search tool designed specifically for business travelers. The feature allows professionals to filter homes and apartments that are deemed Business Travel Ready (BTR). To qualify for a BTR listing, the accommodation must have a desk, Wi-Fi, self-check-in through a doorman or digital lock and various amenities you would find at a hotel.
While some TMs still may have safety and data reporting concerns regarding Airbnb, American Express GBT, one of the first business travel management companies to form an agreement with the hospitality company, has the technology to integrate data from Airbnb’s bookings into our own reporting platform so that our clients easily can keep track of itinerary information for both corporate reporting and travel risk management purposes.
The third thing millennials want: personal time to explore the city they’re visiting
Through its research, MMGY Global also found that 73 percent of millennials want some form of leisure time during a business trip, whether they extend their travel by a couple of days or simply have an opportunity to go play for a few hours between work commitments. As adventure seekers, they wish to explore the city, soak up the vibe, feel like they are having a new encounter — as well as have a cool pic to share on their Instagram page.
The solution: Give them some leeway to indulge in some leisure activities. You may even be able to offer them money toward entertainment that doesn’t cost you any extra if you create a system that rewards their thriftiness. For instance, kind of like the programs that incentivize travelers to save on their bookings, you may consider giving half of what your employees save on their flight and accommodation toward their leisure activities. This kind of incentive is particularly appealing to millennials who value getting deals yet will splurge to have that cool, new experience.
And if your company does not offer a policy yet to accommodate those travelers who want to tack on a couple personal days to a business trip — also known as “bleisure” travel — here’s a full guide on how to create this millennial must-have.