“Business traveller.” For many, the term evokes an image of a middle-aged man, briefcase in hand, rushing for a flight or dining alone in a hotel bar. Not long ago, this picture was actually fairly accurate.
Today, however, business travel looks a lot less like a scene from Mad Men and a lot more like a scene from Modern Family.
We’re in a new generation of business travel, which is younger, more plugged-in, more value-focused, and, increasingly, female. This demographic shift poses plenty of challenges for the travel industry and company travel managers alike. Women and millennials have already rewritten the rules of business. Now they’re redefining what it means to be a business traveller too. Let’s look at how these two groups are pushing business travel into the future, one itinerary at a time.
The next generation
Millennials are already the most frequent travellers in the business world today. That’s hardly surprising, considering their endless love of new experiences.
Where past generations saw business travel as a necessity, young business travellers see it as an exciting, even glamorous lifestyle choice. To them, travel is an inherently rewarding experience that expands cultural horizons while bringing plenty of social media attention.
By 2020, half the world’s workforce will be millennials. These young professionals are teaching the travel industry the importance of work-life balance. Beige hotel walls, dodgy WiFi, tired salad bars and unspectacular service will never succeed in this market, no matter how competitive the price.
A man’s world?
Women are the fastest growing segment among business travellers, according to the Women in Business Travel Report 2016. The report finds that a strong majority of women appreciate travel providers who pay special attention to gender-specific needs. While most female business travellers don’t expect preferential treatment over men, they do want different kinds of amenities and services.
For example, female business travellers are more concerned with safety than their male counterparts. They want their companies to prioritize accommodations that explicitly address safety concerns. Popular hotel amenities among female business travellers include discreet check-in (with numberless keys/key-cards), female room-service staff and 24-hour reception.
Female business travellers are understandably safety-conscious. Nearly one-third reported encountering sexual harassment during a business trip. Hotels must take measures to ensure guests’ safety, and companies have an obligation to support and protect employees on the road. There’s much room for improvement. Talking to employees and providing special training are great places to start.
In our creativity-fueled economy, a diverse and motivated workforce is essential to any company’s success. Millennials and women have changed the way we do business and now they’re reshaping business travel too. Travel suppliers must continue to seek exciting innovations so they can appeal to these more discerning customers. Companies must update travel strategies, adjust them to their employees’ needs and adopt modern business travel tools that enable this to happen.
Ultimately, everyone wins though, because most of the things millennial and female business travellers demand actually benefit everyone: richer experiences, more attentive service, greater safety. Sounds like an amazing trip!