According to a new study millennials will supplant Gen X business travelers in spending by 2020. While one generation succeeding another may not seem all that newsworthy, what’s surprising is how quickly millennials are doing it. After analyzing the spending habits of a few generational groups, Boston Consulting Group’s Traveling with Millennials found that business travelers, age 18 to 34, will account for 46 percent of spending on business flights from the United States by 2020, up from 35 percent in 2013. And, older Gen X business travelers would see their share drop to 34 percent by 2020, down from 38 percent this year.
“In as few as five years, millennials will enter their peak earning, spending, and traveling years and surpass the baby boomers in business flight spending,” said Christine Barton, a BCG partner and lead author of the report. “The window of opportunity for businesses to understand the unique travel approach of this generation and gain its mind share is closing rapidly. Companies will be more successful if they determine an effective millennial strategy now.”
A survey released by Hilton Garden Inn last month revealed that one in four (24 percent) millennials travel overnight for business at least once per week in an average month. More than any other age group, millennial business travelers are more likely to add on extra days to their business trip for leisure travel than they were compared to a year ago (84 percent).
“Millennials are creating a very specific kind of work-life balance that makes sense for their generation and the long hours they’re putting in,” said Judy Christa-Cathey, vice president, focused service brand marketing, Hilton Worldwide. “The line between personal and business time is becoming blurred, particularly for this group, so millennials are finding adventure through business.”
That’s not to say that all other groups should be pushed aside in a rush to attract a younger audience, but there are some additional advantages to skewing younger. “Some travelers in the older generation, specifically baby boomers, also like this trend because they still think they are young and hip,” says Chris Klauda, VP of quality assurance and lodging at D.K. Shifflet and Associates.
Marriott International is attempting to tap into this market with a new advertising and branding campaign for Marriott Hotels and Resorts, its largest brand. The campaign, named “Travel Brilliantly,” is directed at frequent business travelers who are Gen X and millennial. The campaign includes 30- and 60-second versions of a commercial that was shot at Rayong Marriott Resort and Spa in Thailand and the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit, and features young travelers arriving at the hotel, attending a conference, and swimming.
The voice-over says: “This is not a hotel. It’s an idea that travel should be brilliant. The promise of spaces as expansive as your imagination. This is not business as usual, it’s a new take on taking a meeting. A new way to inspire, create and, yes, dream. Because it’s not only about where you’re staying, it’s about where you’re going. Marriott, travel brilliantly.”
Commune Hotels and Resorts stepped into this space as well when it introduced Tommie, its value-conscious brand, earlier this year. The new brand is built around space efficient “crash pads,” meeting spaces, and casual communal dining experiences. The public lounges, called Reading Rooms, are intended to promote gathering and socializing with games and curated programming. The hotels will also offer self check-in, a grab-and-go marketplace, and eclectic retail.
“Tommie is about stripping away the non-essentials to create a functional efficiency. Everything is beautiful, but also has a purpose,” said Jason Pomeranc, co-chair of Commune Hotels and Resorts and founder of Thompson Hotels. “We are creating hotels that will appeal to youthful, design savvy, connected, and discerning travelers seeking responsible and immersive experiences.”
Klauda sees more initiatives like these coming out of the lodging industry in the next few years. “Hotels are going after the younger traveler because that is where the population growth and money is,” she says. “To feed their tech and foodie obsessions hotels have created lobby and lounge areas with techno furniture, chai lattes, designer cocktails, and lots of electrical plugs-ins to provide this generation a venue for their ‘isolated togetherness.’ They can be having fun in a crowd while being on the cloud.”
And that just might turn out to be the new definition of inclusiveness