If your travel program isn't catering to Millennials you're in trouble
Most travel programs are antiquated and not well-tailored to the needs of Millennials. This is a big mistake. Born between 1980 and the late 1990s, this groups makes up 31.5% of the population, the largest share of any cohort. It's no secret that they've had the most influence on recent industry trends and shifts in consumption over the past few years. Having grown up with technology and mobile as part of their everyday lives, they are at the forefront of digitisation. In many companies there are more Millennials than employees from any other generation, and studies show they expect more from their workplace than a traditional employer-employee relationship. According to BCG, Millennials are responsible for almost half of all global business travel. Just as markets have adapted to their needs, so should companies. Here's a few ideas on how to go about tailoring your company's travel program and policies to this key demographic.
Wooing them with travel
The effects of Covid-19 notwithstanding, effectively marketing your comprehensive travel program is one of the easiest ways to attract Millennials. They often view travel as a necessary perk when considering a job opportunities. In fact, a PwC report reveals that 71% of Millennials expect and want to do an overseas assignment during their career, while a Hilton Resorts survey conducted in the US found that 39% of this group go as far as saying they would not take a job that did not include some business travel. Tactically speaking, consider advertising corporate travel in your job descriptions, especially for positions most likely to be filled by Millennials.
The rise of bleisure travel
Millennials also think about travel differently than the typical Gen-Xer. For example, they are more likely to take advantage of corporate travel as a means to discover new countries. They tend to value experience over luxury, a key driver in the rise of the shared economy. A survey of 1,650 travellers found that 74% of millennial business travellers had recently stayed in a vacation rental, such as Airbnb, instead of a traditional hotel. In fact, these younger workers are known to choose cheaper options if it means more time to explore and discover.
What does this mean for corporate travel programs? Be open to flexible business travel by encouraging policies such as bleisure travel. Millennials have a more fluid understanding of work-life balance and will appreciate this shift, potentially making them even more productive. Moreover, encouraging flexibility can also significantly reduce your overall travel spend. As highlighted in our article on how to optimise the price of your ticket by being more flexible, non-rigid travel dates can decrease airfare by an average of 18%. This tweak to your travel policy is a guaranteed win-win.
Avoiding the obsolete
It's no secret that Millennials have developed a reputation for needing instant gratification. This is not entirely unjustified, but that doesn't mean it's all negative. Millennials have come to expect nothing less than extremely user-friendly, easy-to-use, and simple products (e.g., Amazon, Uber, Netflix), especially when it comes to leisure travel (e.g., Skyscanner). Most corporate travel platforms are no where like this.
In fact, making a flight and hotel booking on most travel tools is like pulling teeth. They are clunky and feel like they were built in the 1990s. Some companies still force their employees to spend hours on end calling up travel agents just to book air and train tickets. Many travel policies require employees to pay in advance (especially for hotels) and file paper expense claims post trip. As far as Millennials are concerned, this just isn't acceptable.
You need to implement modern tools that have been built with a B2C mindset: tools that allow for quick and effective travel searches, that make it hyper-easy to book flights, trains, and hotels all at the same time, that automate expense management, that come with great customer service, and more. These tools should help you achieve your travel goals (e.g., duty of care measures, spend reduction), but they should also empower employees to book and manage travel themselves. Moreover, your travel tools should be mobile first. Mobile travel bookings already account for 21% of of all bookings and are expected to grow by 60% in 2021. Millennials expect to book and manage their trips any time and from anywhere. If your tools don't have a great mobile native interface, your displeased Millennials will look elsewhere. Out with the old and in with the user-centric.
Millennials are likely the most socially-vocal generation we have seen; they have blurred the lines between their political views and their companies' missions and environmental impact and climate change are top of mind. Companies should create travel policies that not only address health & safety, budgets, expense policies, etc., but also incorporate carbon reduction solutions and targets. Push for your company to implement eco-friendly business travel as part of a genuinely green corporate culture and policy. This initiative will resonate with Millennials, whom are looking to work for organisations that best fit with their values and expectations.
Summing it up
Millennials take on average 5.6 trips per year, which is 1 more than the average person from Gen-X. They are already the most important business traveller out there. It's time for organisations' travel policies and tools to catch up. Start by attracting Millennials by more effectively promoting your travel program. Then, adapt your travel program to allow for more flexibility and to promote sustainable travel. Finally, and most importantly, step out of the travel tool stone age. Choose a platform that offers a smooth mobile-native experience which not only allows control over budgets and traveller safety, but meets the needs of autonomous Millennials who expect the same kind of seamless experience and functionality at work as they do in their personal lives. If you create a travel eco-system that better fits the needs of Millennials you will have a happier, healthier, and more productive travel program. Best of all, none of this needs to cost you any more, in fact you might even be able save along the way.