The Millennial Road
The world of travel is getting a makeover, one tap at a time
My twenty-something daughter recently posted the following on her Facebook page:“I am annoyingly coming to the conclusion that my parents were right about almost everything.” Ha! Told you so. Well, not really. I didn’t tell her so, not about everything. Some of life I knew she was going to have to figure out for herself. And a lot of it is coming as a surprise to her dad, too. She’s one of the so-called Millennials, young people between the ages of 18 and 30 who are reshaping the world they – and we – live in, one download, one app, one post at a time. As a decidedly non-Millennial, I see her generation facing some unprecedented challenges, perhaps more than the Boomers or even the children of the Depression.
You see, the Millennials are at the conjunction of global societal changes and technological leaps as disruptive and head-swimming as anything since the Industrial Revolution. No longer are we standing on the precipice of change – we are falling, head-long over the edge into a world that I suspect even the most ardent visionaries of previous generations could scarcely have foreseen.
It’s hardly surprising then that in the travel business, Millennials have sharply different habits and expectations from preceding generations. This according to a global study from online travel site Expedia.com and its business travel arm Egencia. The Future of Travel polled over 8,500 adults across 24 countries to discover how this upcoming generation will change the travel landscape. Here briefly are some of the top line findings: No surprise here, mobile devices are reaching near-ubiquity, with 75 percent of all travelers across all regions and all demographics using smartphones and tablets. But their use is even more prevalent among Millennials than any other group.
It should come as no shock then, that nearly a third (32 percent) of under-30s use smartphones to book travel versus 12 percent for those over 45.
Millennials are also not shy about using these devices to let travel providers know when things aren’t right. Over a quarter (26 percent) of American travelers under 34 posted negative reviews of hotels within the last year, compared to 14 percent of their older peers.
Of course, this may be due to the simple fact that Millennials have more opportunities to gripe since they travel more on business than any other age demographic; 4.7 times per year on business, versus 3.6 times per year among 30-45 year-olds, and 4.2 times per year among 46-65 year-olds. In fact, it seems when I was 20-something and traveling a lot, I wasn’t really reticent to point out problems either. But what I lacked was ready access to a platform from which to trumpet my displeasure.
And that’s really the difference. Technology is empowering this new generation of travelers, and they’re leveraging it to the max to change everything about the travel experience. Thus, we can hardly write about business travel these days without speaking in the same breath about technology and its impact.
Case in point; this month’s Business Traveler. Consider our cover story, High Tech, Low Touch (page 30) wherein Artie Beavis unveils the brave new world of keyless, cashless, contactless travel access. In Evolving Luxury (page 36), Jenny Southan looks at the future of truly high-end travel and, among other things, how technology in the background enables a real, personalized experience. Finally, World Wise (page 58) takes a different turn in coming months, as Ross Atkinson begins an exploration of trends in travel, drawing from the accumulated wisdom of business travelers the world over.
So to all you Millennials out there I say, keep the heat on. Continue to use these tools to refine and revolutionize travel. We all win when you do; providers get better at their jobs, businesses grow more productive, the world opens up and the experience become more meaningful for everyone.
The rest of us, for whom these changes are not exactly second nature, can appreciate and benefit from the travel world you’re creating, if we’re wise enough. And you, if you’re wise enough, can harness these changes without letting them run you over.
Then we can say that you, too, were annoyingly right about almost everything. BT
— Dan Booth Editorial Director