Business travel among Millennials was up 40% in 2011 and the business travel industry is learning to accommodate them. For example, Millennials like paperless travel, using apps and websites to handle all of their arrangements and transactions. “All of my tickets can go on my phone,” says one Millennial. “I scan it at the T.S.A. and scan it at the gate. There’s no reason to print out airline tickets again.”
They prefer travel communication in the form of texts, emails, or social media messages. And they expect customer assistance from all of their travel vendors to be available 24/7. “They expect to do things online and 24/7 wherever they are,” says a travel consultant.
Millennial travelers are also more demanding, having had more travel experience at a younger age than previous generations. Wi-Fi is a minimum requirement, according to a hotel executive, “If you don’t have Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, this generation isn’t going to stay with you.” Hotels are adding other Millennial-friendly amenities like open social spaces. And if they aren’t up to par, Millennials’ feedback is instant, swiftly posted on the hotels’ or airlines’ Facebook pages.
Millennials are beginning to demonstrate an inclination to travel and hotels are keen to accommodate them. Travel spending by Millennials rose 20% in 2010, according to the New York Times, and now nearly every major hotel brand has developed products to appeal to them.
For Millennials, a hotel being “interesting is more important than comfort,” according to the dean of the hotel management division at New York University. That’s the reverse of the Baby Boomer market, he adds. Another key feature: Wi-Fi. “High-speed internet is like air to Millennials,” he adds – they consider it as important as beds and towels in a hotel.
Hotels are also redesigning facilities to be more casual and social and to provide more power and data portals for Millennials to plug in. Multiple bars and restaurants as well as increased social activities are designed to keep Millennial guests entertained enough to stay on the premises throughout the day and evening. And some hotels are catering to Millennial tendencies even after the guests leave. Starwood, for example, has a 20-person team devoted to responding to complaints and comments on social media sites.
Business travel is projected to rebound in 2012, with Millennial and Gen X business travelers leading the way. In a new Deloitte survey, 27% of Gen X and Millennials say they will travel more for business next year, nearly twice the percentage of Boomers and Matures who plan to take more trips.
When traveling for business, younger generations tend be more loyal to their favorite hotel brands with nearly half saying they like to stick with the same brand regardless of location or convenience. Only about a third of travelers over 45 share that brand loyalty. A majority of older business travelers find major hotel brands too inconsistent to earn their loyalty.
Features that appeal to Gen Xers and Millennials include common areas and lobbies that can serve areas for them to work in and self-service kiosks for check-in and other services. All generations agree (77%) that complimentary internet access is essential but less than two-thirds are satisfied with the access provided by most hotels.