Millennials Embrace Business Travel, In-Person Meetings

New research from the Global Business Travel Association finds that younger employees are quicker to embrace business travel than their older counterparts—particularly if there's free WiFi.

Don’t be fooled by their smartphones, their active social profiles, or the fact that people write about them like they’re a single hive-mind entity: Millennials really like in-person meetings.

In particular, they love traveling to those business meetings. They may use social media while on the road, but quite often, it’s with the end goal of meeting people in person.

That’s the recent conclusion of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), which found in the latest edition of its GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index that millennials are far more likely to want to travel for business than baby boomers are (45 percent versus 26 percent, respectively). And when they travel for work, tech is a key tool for younger travelers that’s not as well-utilized by other generations. The study found that 46 percent of millennial travelers use social media to meet up with friends, a far cry from the 17 percent of boomers who say the same. And 30 percent of millennials want free WiFi when they travel, while just 17 percent of older travelers want the same.

The study also pointed out a few other notable differences between generations when it comes to business travel.

Don’t force me to expense it: While younger employees may like the idea of business travel, they’re not so into the idea of charging expenses on a personal credit card and being reimbursed later. The report found that 53 percent of millennials were OK with doing that, a much lower level than the 69 percent of boomers who are willing to float expenses.

Checked bags a pain point for boomers: Nearly half of all baby boomers (47 percent) say that they don’t want to pay for checked bags. Millennials are more open to doing so; just 34 percent say paid checked bags is a requirement for them. (Is it because they don’t remember the days when the service was usually free?)

Older travelers want fewer security annoyances: In the case of business travelers who have been around the block a few times, one of the key amenities that they want at the airport is a smooth trip through security. This ranks higher in importance than other amenities to baby boomers (by 59 percent) and gen Xers (56 percent) . This is less of an issue for younger business travelers, with only 35 percent of them saying this is a priority. Instead, they tend to prioritize WiFi access over other amenities.

Overall though, GBTA emphasized that the findings of the study were positive for the travel industry.

“Millennials are the newest generation of road warriors and, like their more experienced peers, they understand that face-to-face meetings remain key to getting business done,” GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick said in a news release. “Over the last quarter, business travelers across the board—millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers—reported that their goals were met on business trips, leading to greater satisfaction.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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