Young business travelers are greedy, tech-obsessed complainers who will gladly charge expensive meals and airline upgrades to their company account and post a negative review online if they’re not satisfied. These are the findings of a new global study from Harris Interactive, released Monday on behalf of Expedia and Egencia, Expedia Group’s business-travel arm.
Researchers behind the new Future of Travel report asked 8,535 employed adults in 24 countries how they conducted business and leisure travel to evaluate their likes, dislikes, personal preferences and pet peeves. The goal was to discover how millennials -- those born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s -- will impact the travel landscape in the coming years as they gain decision-making power at work and purchasing power in their personal lives.
The results found a sharp divide in the values held by different generations of travelers. Millennials, for instance, are far more likely to find loyalty programs important when booking flights (48 percent) or hotels (51 percent), versus only three in 10 travelers (31 percent and 30 percent respectively) aged 46 to 65.
Millennials are also much quicker to use new technology. Some 32 percent made arrangements for business travel using a smartphone, while 20 percent used a tablet. Only 12 percent of business travelers aged 46 to 65 used a smartphone for booking purposes, while just 9 percent used a tablet.
“Business travelers are early adopters of technology -- millennial travelers even faster -- and all are on the move from device-to-device, from online to offline and back again,” Rob Greyber, president of Egencia, said. “We realize that keeping pace with millennials and future generations of corporate travelers demands significant focus on mobile in order to sustainably engage them with the right information.”
But it’s not just technology that will change the business-travel landscape. According to the Future of Travel report, millennials are a totally different breed of business travelers -- one that has no problem spending the company’s money.
Globally, 42 percent of business travelers under 30 said they would spend the company’s dime (instead of their own) on high-end meals, compared to just 26 percent of those aged 46 to 65. Thirty-seven percent of millennials, meanwhile, would use the company card on room service, compared to just 21 percent of their older colleagues. The younger generation does, however, travel more frequently than the older generations, perhaps giving them more impetus to take advantage of a company allowance.
One thing’s for certain, millennials are much more comfortable mixing work and play, and are almost twice as likely to extend business trips into personal vacations than their peers aged 46 to 65. They’re also likely to complain the loudest when things don’t go their way. Business travelers 34 and under are, by far, the most likely to post a negative review online about a bad experience with a hotel, restaurant, airline, taxi or rental car. One in four has done so in the past year, compared with only 14 percent of older travelers.
There are a few things that global business travelers across all age brackets agree on, including the top priorities for a trip: location/price of the hotel, travel time to the city and cost of airfare. More than one-third of all business travelers (39 percent) said they worked more hours when traveling than they did at the office, while more than two-thirds (68 percent) said they were compensated for their business trips on nights and weekends either with extra money or additional compensation days.
Harris Interactive conducted the Expedia survey between Aug. 20 and Sept. 12, 2013, across Europe, North America, South America and Asia Pacific. In order to qualify for the study, respondents had to be employed full-time, part-time or self-employed.