Millennials want to travel more for business, embrace value of face-to-face meetings

Business traveller satisfaction with getting through airport security and faith in overall economy declines significantly since previous quarter

Millennials are nearly twice as likely to want to travel more for business than Baby Boomers (45 per cent to 26 per cent, respectively), and a strong majority of Millennials (57 per cent) believe technology can never replace face-to-face meetings to get business done.

Additionally, Millennials are far more likely to rely upon social media to meet up with friends when travelling than Baby Boomers (46 per cent to 17 per cent) and are far less likely to want to use their personal credit cards to float business expenses (53 per cent to 69 per cent). In terms of travel amenities, if only one could be selected, Baby Boomers would strongly prefer to pay no fee to check bags (47 per cent compared to 34 per cent of Millennials), while Millennials want free Wi-Fi (30 per cent compared to 17 per cent of Baby Boomers).

These findings come from the latest GBTA Business Traveller Sentiment Index™ – research from the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with American Express.

“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,” said Michael, W. McCormick, GBTA Executive Director and COO.  “Over the last quarter, business travellers across the board – Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers – reported that their goals were met on business trips, leading to greater satisfaction.”

“Millennials in particular are interested in business travel and see the value it brings to their companies and their careers,” said Susan Chapman-Hughes, Senior Vice President, American Express Global Corporate Payments.  “This generation may see more upsides to business travel because they’ve found new ways to stay connected to their personal and professional commitments while on the road.”

The study also found that overall business traveller satisfaction with getting through airport security declined significantly in the past three months (from 55 per cent in Q2 to 45 per cent in Q3). Despite this drop, overall satisfaction levels with the business travel experience remain high (73 per cent). But with airplane travel as a driving force in overall satisfaction, a continued downward trend could have an increasingly negative impact.

Older business travellers say smooth sailing through security trumps amenities

Given a choice, business travellers overall prefer getting through security easily (52 per cent) to other airport amenities, however, smoothly getting through security is much more important to Baby Boomers (59 per cent) and Gen Xers (56 per cent) than to Millennials (35 per cent). While almost one-half (48 per cent) of business travellers want free Wi-Fi at the airport, this is more important to Millennials (54 per cent) than Baby Boomers (44 per cent). Additionally, regardless of age, two in five business travellers (39 per cent) want airports to offer non-stop flights to their destinations.

Additional key findings

  • A concern raised in the study centres around confidence in the economy. The percentage of travellers who believe the overall health of the economy is excellent dropped from 32 per cent in quarter two to just 21 per cent this quarter. This is despite the fact that travellers’ views of the health of their own company or industry remained virtually unchanged and much more positive. More than half of business travellers feel their own company is in excellent financial shape (62 per cent) and that the overall health of their industry is excellent (51 per cent).
  • Travellers don’t want passengers to talk on mobile phones while in flight. The study finds that nearly two thirds of business travellers oppose allowing passengers to talk on their mobile phones while a flight is in the air, while just nine per cent support this.
  • The GBTA Business Traveller Sentiment Index, in partnership with American Express, experienced a significant decline — 3.7 percentage points — from Wave 2 (98.7) to Wave 3 (95.1) of this research. A decline in the Index means the overall trip experience for business travellers has worsened, which may partially reflect concerns about the overall economy, as well as other challenges with the travel experience.

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