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You’ve probably recently heard of ‘Generation Y’ (sometimes referred to as ‘Millennials’), as the term seems to appear more and more in mainstream news channels. You might even be part of the Generation Y bracket yourself! In case you aren’t aware of this growing demographic, we’ll quickly summarise it for you –

“Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when the generation starts and ends; most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s”

So essentially, anyone currently aged between 16 and 36 is a trusty Millennial. This demographic of young adults has, unknowingly, changed and is still changing the landscape of consumerism all over the world. Their interests and demands are vastly different to their predecessors, and their dependence on technology and the digital world is transforming the way in which we live our lives and do business.

The era Generation Y grew up in was one where digital really began taking shape and becoming mainstream in popular culture; with Millennials being dubbed the consumer champions and early adopters of the internet, online gaming, social media, MSN, apps, and smartphones. This trend has remained as these young people became young adults graduating school or university to join an organisation, armed with a smartphone and a deeply engrained digital culture.

Millennials at work

What do we mean by ‘digital culture’?
Millennials have different lifestyle habits to the preceding Generation X. The way in which information is obtained is at the click of a few buttons or a quick Google search, leading to an inherent dependence on choice. Pages and pages of Google, Yahoo, and Bing searches lead to unprecedented choice. Information can be communicated to friends, family, or colleagues in a host of ways – many of which are digital and require no physical words to be spoken; social media, email, instant messaging, group chat, or text. Generation Y has become accustomed to an expectation of instant information, efficiency, and exceptional choice, and these are three of the biggest challenges the landscape of consumerism has had to evolve to meet…including that of business travel.

How is business travel changing to meet the demands of Generation Y?
Generation Y is essentially the next generation of business travellers. The once-teenagers growing up in the late 80s or early 90s are now approaching 30 years old and will be stepping in to the well-travelled shoes of Generation X. Let’s look at the facts; there are currently over 800 million young people in the Generation Y bracket. It’s estimated that by 2020, they’ll be taking 320 million business trips per year, and with a much higher travel expenditure than Generation X, they’ll be contributing a whopping 75% to business travel spend. Now is most definitely the time to join the conversation on how we as an industry can evolve to meet their needs.

So, what do they need?
There are three elements to Millennial business travel; technology, choice and exploring new places. These are now the three factors that dominate where Generation Y is booking their corporate travel and how they’re booking it. A corporate online booking tool isn’t nearly as effective as it was a decade ago; with Concur estimating that up to 50% of business travel is booked outside the traditional, mandated avenues. That’s almost half of an organisation’s travel programme booked either on an app or directly with a supplier. From both a spend reconciliation AND a duty of care perspective, that figure is pretty scary.

1. Travel Booking

Studies show that mobile technology is indispensable to a Generation Y traveller, with 32% using smartphones to book travel and a further 20% using a tablet. Comparing this to Generation X with less than 11% using a smartphone, you start to see a trend. Having a mobile booking avenue is vastly more appealing to a Millennial than using a desktop computer; something that remembers their payment/billing/personal information, offers plenty of choice on price and can be done on-the-go. Millennials are traditionally quite busy people, balancing a career, a vibrant social life and usually a health and fitness regime all at once. Time is precious and apps are their way of getting things done efficiently, quickly and on-the-move.

2. Choice

Choice is really at the heart of a Millennial’s business travel habits and from this spring a host of opportunities and challenges that the industry is rising to meet. One Google search for a flight to New York will yield approximately 209 million results and countless pages to scroll through! The level of choice available on the internet is phenomenal and not to be underestimated as a compelling tool for booking outside mandated policy. Having grown up through a double dip recession, value for money remains a real priority for Millennials and is currently one of the main reasons that travellers book directly with a supplier, or on a last-minute-deal website. More choice on the internet inevitably means a larger price range to choose from; prices which can often beat those offered by their incumbent travel management company.

3. Connectivity

TechnologyHotels all around the world are currently racing to put together free Wi-Fi packages for their business travellers as a means to keep their business. In a rather worrying recent survey, a host of Millennials were asked if they would rather have permanent internet connectivity or lose their sense of smell… can you guess their answer? You got it, over half of them chose connectivity. Poor connectivity is an issue for many travellers, Generation X included, but for our Generation Y demographics, it is often the difference between making a booking or not.

4. Bleisure

Whilst we can all agree that ‘bleisure’ is an incredibly ugly industry buzzword, the fact remains that employees are five times as likely to extend their business trips for leisure purposes than they were a decade ago. Meeting new people and exploring new places is engrained in the culture of Generation Y and with increasing pressure to work harder and longer hours, it makes sense that they’ve become opportunistic with their time off. By simply adding a few days of annual leave onto their work trip, they’re saving in air fare and will often invite a friend or family member out with them.

So there’re four top priorities for busy business travelling Millennials. With a host of new loyalty programmes, data capture technology, Wi-Fi bundles, bleisure policies, payment reconciliation tools, itinerary integration apps, and duty of care platforms being created specifically to target the needs of this demographic, we think Generation Y might just be the most powerful demographic the consumer world has seen yet.

For more information, please drop us an email at info@businesstraveldirect.co.uk or call us on 01895 450701 to chat to a member of the team.