The Mil­len­nial Road

The world of travel is get­ting a makeover, one tap at a time

Business Traveler (USA) - - TALKING POINT -

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 Ex­pe­ 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

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